Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (C) is congratulated by team mates Fabio Coentrao (L) and Raul Albiol after scoring a goal against Sevilla during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid February 9, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Real Madrid's season has not been a great one. The team currently sits 16 points behind first place team Barcelona in the Spanish League. Madrid struggled in the group stage of the Champions League and had to settle for second place behind Borussia Dortmund. More importantly, the year has been plagued by infighting and drama from its major stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas. The fighting has gotten so bad that fans were calling for coach Jose Mourinho's head and a Spanish newspaper even reported that Casillas and Ramos had met with the team president to demand Mourinho's resignation (the report was angrily refuted by club President Florentino Perez).
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Mourinho stated that the Champions League was the most important goal for his team this season, but Madrid faces a tremendous task when it faces Manchester United on Wednesday. Despite all the negative energy surrounding the club, there are numerous reasons to feel positive about Madrid's chances at winning. Here are a few.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that when the ball starts rolling, Ronaldo will be the best player on the field. He can score from anywhere; he can create out of anything; and when he is on top of his game, he is virtually unstoppable. In case no one has noticed, Ronaldo has been supreme in 2012 with 13 goals in just 10 games, including two hat tricks. Ronaldo has been outspoken about his excitement to take on his former team and it is unlikely that the Portuguese superstar puts up a poor performance in a match he has been awaiting for so long. Even though there are questions about his cooperative mentality, his team mates know that he is invaluable to their success. "Cristiano is going through the best moment of his career and we are so lucky to have him at Real Madrid," Ramos said. Cristiano will lead this team to victory.
Manchester United has tremendous talent, but Real Madrid is loaded at every position. No one will compare the goal keepers; Diego Lopez has displayed the poise of a veteran while Manchester's combo of David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard has proven unreliable. A comparison of the two defenses skews heavily in Madrid's favor. Same for the midfield where the combination of Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil, and Sami Khedira heavily outmatches anything that Manchester has to offer. The only position where the teams have parity is at the striker position; however Cristiano Ronaldo is the most lethal of the forwards.
Many will argue that Madrid does not have the cohesion of Manchester, but when this team is on its game it is one of the best in world; and superior to United.
Real Madrid has not lost at home this season; Manchester has lost a few times away from home. The Santiago Bernabeau is a fort where Madrid has a penchant for playing at its best. More importantly, Ronaldo elevates his game when playing in front of his fans; in the 2012-13 season he has scored 22 goals at the Bernabeau. Manchester has scored 25 of its 62 premier league goals on the road. The home team knows that it has the advantage and will be in its top form.