Euphoria in Madrid as Real return to glory
By Duncan Shaw Apr 21, 2011, 8:55 GMT
Madrid - Thursday was a public holiday in Madrid, which was just as well because many people would not have gone to work anyway after spending most of the night celebrating Real's 1-0 cup final defeat of Barcelona on Wednesday.
Thousands of madridista fans braved the rainy and cold weather to greet Jose Mourinho's team returning from Valencia with the cup in the dead of night.
Cristiano Ronaldo and company drove in an open bus from the club's Estadio Barenabeu down to the central Plaza Cibeles, where the Real fans traditionally celebrate the club's triumphs.
The anecdote of the night was provided by defender Sergio Ramos, who accidentally dropped the trophy, which was almost flattened by the wheels of the bus.
The celebrations were especially wild because Real had won absolutely nothing for three years, having had to endure the glorious reign of Barcelona since Pep Guardiola took over the Catalans in 2008.
In addition, it was the first time that Real had managed to beat Barca in three years, after five consecutive defeats and a draw.
It was Real's first cup triumph since 1993. The whites now have 18 cup titles to their name, five less than Athletic Bilbao and seven less than Barcelona.
Real's surprise victory was front-page news in every Spanish paper on Thursday. The three heroes singled out by the media for special praise are Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo - scorer of the extra-time goal - and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who kept Barca at bay with several sharp saves.
Mourinho was hailed by Radio Marca on Thursday as a 'tactical genius' for the way he constructed two 'imposing defensive lines which kept Barca under control.'
The first defensive line, according to Radio Marca, was made up of hard-working defensive midfielders Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Pepe. Then came a second line, made up of defenders Alvaro Arbeloa, Ramos, Ricardo Carvalho and Marcelo, all of whom coped well with Barca's slick attacks in a one-sided second half.
Cadena SER, for its part, commented that 'Mourinho realized that the only way to beat Barca was by defending in depth and...hitting them on the break. This was exactly how the game went.'
Cadena COPE, meanwhile, said of Mouriho's strategy that 'it was not very pretty, but it was certainly effective.' COPE then compared the win to Mourinho's Inter Milan eliminating Barca from the Champions Cup last season.
Marca claimed that 'Cristiano Ronaldo won his personal battle against (Barca idol) Lionel Messi...and proved why he is the world's most expensive player.'
The two strikers have been vying for the Spanish top scorers' award all season. Messi has scored 30 goals in La Liga - in which Barca are eight points ahead of Real - Ronaldo has put away 29.
AS, for its part, commented that 'it was an heroic occasion because Real beat a Barca team that was really superior....Few triumphs have ever tasted so sweet for Madrid.'
AS then expressed the hope that 'this is promising with regard to the upcoming Champions League finals.'
Real host Barca in the first leg of the semis on April 27, then travel to Barcelona for the second leg on May 2.
The Catalan media, on Thursday, understandably preferred to focus on the Champions League semis rather than on the cup final.
According to Catalan daily Sport, 'the challenge is now to beat them (Real) in the Champions.' Sport added that 'nobody should start to talk about the end of a cycle...This defeat should give new encouragement to Guardiola's team.'
The headline in Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, was 'And Now For The Champions!'
Inside, the sports daily complained about Real's 'ultra-aggressive and physical approach' and claimed that Arbeloa, Pepe and Xabi Alonso should all have been sent off.
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