Real rally to defence of elbows-akimbo Ronaldo

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If Real Madrid actually had a pair they’d take the Cristiano Ronaldo banning business on the chin - or rather the nose - like poor old flat-faced Patrick Mtiliga had to.

NEWS, Mon Jan 25: Mtiliga nose broken by Ronaldo

“Suspend him for a decade!” they would cry.

“A thousand years! Do your worst! Don’t need him! We’re Real Madrid!”

The problem for the inhabitants of Castle Greyskull is that they have absolutely no faith in their forward line without the presence of either CR9 or Gonzalo Higuaín, who's injured.

This is especially the case ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Deportivo bogeymen at a ground where they’ve not won for nearly 20 years - a scenario that must be giving the second-placed side the biggest of willies.

So it's no surprise that the Madridista press has launched a desperate ‘Free Ronaldo!’ campaign ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the league’s disciplinary committee in an attempt to get a fair and just outcome for their poor persecuted superstar.

And like a puppy with three legs or Arizmendi trying to play football, the campaign is a sight both endearing and pathetic.


Although the general vibe in Capital City is that a one-match suspension for Ronaldo will be tolerated - barely - despite the enormous injustice of the initial sending off, the message being beamed to la Liga’s punishers on the front pages of both Marca and AS is that a two-match ban for Ronaldo would rival anything the Burmese Junta could conjure for cruelty.

A key strategy for the defence is that the footballer under discussion is Cristiano Ronaldo, is pretty and kind to kittens.

“I just want to be allowed to play” is his front-page plea in Tuesday's Marca.

The fact that he plays for Real Madrid is crucial too, as all governing bodies in Spain clearly love Barcelona and hate Madrid.

Therefore the disciplinary committee should show mercy on this particular occasion and buck this trend of bias.

Another argument against a two-match suspension for Ronaldo is Zinedine Zidane’s declaration that Cristiano Ronaldo is not a violent player, which is akin to Phil Spector getting Charles Manson to say “you know, he’s not that bad really.”

"He was ever so quiet, kept himself to himself"

Marca have a good old straw-grasp with their contention that the referee’s report from the Málaga clash was not clear enough to warrant a two-match suspension for violent conduct because it did not make the crucial distinction of whether Ronaldo’s aggression took place on or off the ball or “at the airport” according to the paper’s “refereeing contacts.”

Pérez Lasa, the man who dared to “provoke Madridista anger over the controversial sending off,” could end up causing feelings of joy amongst the same masses over his glaring error, apparently.

AS helpfully note that Lasa chose to speak to the media over Sunday’s affair in Catalunya, with the obvious implication being that the referee is a card-carrying Barcelona fan.

However, the big defence being promoted by both papers is the “but he did it first!” strategy centred on Leo Messi’s involvement in what they claim to be a similar incident with Sevilla player Marc Valiente a few weeks back - an incident ending up with Valiente being booked for pulling on Messi’s shirt.

CR9 takes the long walk

But unlike Sunday's scuffle it was an incident that didn't end up with a nose being broken by a flying elbow – a fairly important distinction, one would have thought.

Not so, says AS editor Alfredo Relaño.

“Cristiano did exactly what Messi did, except Cristiano is bigger than the Argentinian, has longer arms, while at the same time Mtiliga is smaller than Valiente so the blows struck where they shouldn’t have.”

“Cristiano has not done anything worse than others before him,” explains Tuesday’s editorial in Marca, “so he should not be made a scapegoat.”

The “Free Ronaldo!” campaign from the Madridista press ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s meeting smacks of desperation and dark days at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It is unlikely that such a defence would be launched if Fernando Gago were in Ronaldo’s shoes.

It shows that the €100 million spent on Kaká and Karim Benzema and the presence of Raúl still isn’t enough to help a side that is one thing with Cristiano Ronaldo, but something very different without him.

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