The Week In Real Madrid: Arbeloa treated to hero's farewell as Ronaldo's brace keeps Blancos breathing
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The week in five words
That nearly went fairly pear-shaped
What went well
On the plus side, Real Madrid almost had an extra week to prepare for the Champions League final. After cosily being 3-1 up and coasting towards a comfy win against Valencia in the Bernabéu, the final minutes turned out to be a rather fraught affair with one more goal from the opposition handing the title to Barcelona after Atlético lay down their title tools against Levante.
Instead, the title race is thundering down to the final day with one less team in the freeway of football to worry about. Madrid still have to rely on Barcelona to drop points at Granada and as well as pick up three points against Deportivo, themselves, but not having Atlético’s final result to deal with is a heck of a Brucie bonus.
That unexpected drama sealed what was a successful but ultimately fairly mellow week for Madrid after the completion of another excruciatingly bad semifinal clash against Manchester City, a team that looked thoroughly miffed by having to play a couple of midweek games when there was end-of-season parties to organise.
Considering the doom and gloom of even a month ago, the fact that Madrid have a chance of completing a league and Champions league double - still a “so you’re telling me there’s a chance?” Dumb and Dumber opportunity, to be fair - the Madridista massive will happily take those odds.
The continuing inability to get the BBC back in full working order will be a frustration to Zinedine Zidane. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were both back in the starting line-up against Valencia, but this time it was Gareth Bale’s turn to tap out with a knee strain.
And it is very much a beggars-can’t-be-choosers scenario but Madrid fans might have preferred Bayern Munich in the Champions League final rather than an Atlético Madrid side that has had the upper hand in the city derby of late and is almost certainly looking for revenge for That Night in Lisbon, despite players and manager denying it until the kick-off whistle blows.
Quote of the week
“I had to decide between staying and being the rag doll that people liked to prick like a voodoo doll, or leave and breath again” - Iker Casillas looks back fondly on his final days at Madrid before moving on to pastures new at Porto, where it sounds like he is having just as much fun with fans and press.
The need-to-know facts
- Madrid have now lost just one of their last 14 La Liga outings against Valencia, with the 3-2 result ending a streak of four games without a win against Los Che.
- The win over Valencia was Madrid's fifth victory in a row at home in the league.
Video of the week
Some love for Madrid’s man of the hour, Alvaro Arbeloa. Yep, just keep on reading.
Winner of the week
The forgotten man of forgotten men at Madrid had his moment in the sunshine for once with Arbeloa getting the bumps at the end of the game after his final match in the Santiago Bernabéu for Madrid. The fullback also enjoyed the unusual sight of seeing supporters wearing shirts with his name on their backs, too.
Rather unnecessary jokes aside, Arbeloa has not just been an important ‘trolling’ influence at Madrid due to his entertaining Twitter spats with Gerard Piqué. Back in the day, Arbeloa was a key player for José Mourinho who once claimed that the Spaniard was his favourite footballer in the squad due to the consistent performances he gave on both flanks.
That, and being a handy attack dog in the infamous Pep wars. “A good player and an exceptional man” wrote Mourinho in an open letter on Arbeloa’s departure.
Loser of the week
Piqué - one less entertaining sparring partner on social media with Arbeloa set to leave Spain for either Italy or England.
But the centre-back paid a fairly fond well to a former international teammate: “I wish him the best. Sometimes his tone was a bit strong and he should not have done it. He a great career with some big titles, especially the World Cup, I wish him the best.”