After their defeats at the hands of the top two in Germany last week, the Spanish big two must produce comebacks of epic proportions if they are to realise their dreams of a Clásico final at Wembley in the Champions League showpiece event.
For tonight’s match against Borussia Dortmund, a communication went out to all Real Madrid club members asking them to wear their white shirts and have their Madrid scarves at the ready to create as much of a hostile atmosphere in an attempt to intimidate their teutonic opponents.
The current Spanish champions will rely on memories of great battling comebacks on nights of European glory at the Bernabéu. Players such as Camacho, Pirri, Butragueño, Santillana and probably most famously Juanito will be used as a means of inspiring the memories of great nights for the Spanish capital club.
Juanito is still as much of a hero to the Madrid faithful now, 21 years after his tragic death in a road accident at 37, as he was in his playing days. In the 7th minute of each home match, the chant of “Illa, illa, illa, Juanito Maravilla” can be heard to rise up from the South stand of the Bernabéu. A similar chant to the one directed at David Villa by fans of the Spanish national team and no small coincidence that both shared the number 7 shirt.
The player who was born in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, and briefly played for Málaga towards the end of his playing days, spent the longest spell of his career at the Bernabéu. In his ten years at the club, he made 284 appearances, scoring on 85 occasions. His famous number 7 shirt, hence the 7th minute tribute by the fans, is now in the care of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was rested at the weekend and is still not fully fit, but will be risked tonight in the hope that he can lead the charge towards the much hoped for comeback. However, the Portuguese star is the focus of the difference between this current Madrid side and the glory sides of the past.
Previously, the Madrid faithful had the leaders and legends to look up to and most of these were Spanish born players that played for la Roja. The current Madrid side has less of a Spanish feel to it and many find it difficult to identify with players who many do not see as sweating the Madrid shirt.
There has even been a falling out of love with their coach and in his pre-match press conference he did not wear any kit that would identify him as a Madrid man. Certainly he is an employee, but many have come to doubt his commitment to Madridismo. Others look on in envy at the coach of their opponents and the way he inspires his side. Who can tell whether, or not, he will not be on the other bench after the summer?
Both sides will have their strongest talents available to them for tonight’s clash. The only doubt for Dortmund is the fitness of Polish fullback Piszczek, who would be expected to cover Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid will concentrate on their usual quick counter attacks and the heavy weight strike force that they can usually rely on. But, if they do play a high defensive line in search of their much needed goals, Dortmund have already proven on their three previous meetings this season that they can hurt Madrid at the back.
Can the memories of great comebacks and heroes of the past inspire Madrid to victory, or will their current crop of stars fall short against the German efficiency that was shown so ruthlessly and effectively only a week ago…