Delight in Madrid as Real finally reach Champions League quarters

Last Updated 17 March 2011, 10:11 IST

Jose Mourinho's team reached the quarters by thrashing feeble Lyon 3-0 Wednesday, which gave them an impressive 4-1 aggregate in the tie. The comfortable win was front-page news in every Spanish newspaper Thursday.

The headline in sports daily Marca, Spain's highest-selling newspaper, was "To Dream". The headline on the paper's website, meanwhile, was "The 'Mou Team' Ends The Curse."

'Mou', of course, is Real coach Jose Mourinho, a man constantly supported, applauded and defended by Marca in his feuds with other newspapers, referees, the Spanish football federation - and even with Real general director Jorge Valdano.

Marca believes that reaching the quarter-finals justifies the decision, taken 10 months ago, to sack Manuel Pellegrini and bring in the controversial, expensive Mourinho. Radio Marca commented: "Mourinho knows the Champions League better than anyone...This is what Real are now in the quarter-finals."

Mourinho is attempting to become the first coach to win the Champions with three different teams, having won the trophy last season with Inter Milan and in 2004 with FC Porto. He is fairly popular with most Real fans although after the match he raised a few eyebrows, as usual, by saying "the fans were helpful, though not very much."

Rival daily AS, for its part, heaps praise on Wednesday's goalscorers Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, as well as on their man-of-the-match Mesut Oezil. Radio station Cadena SER, meanwhile, pointed out that Mourinho's team is no longer as dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo as it was earlier in the season.

The Portuguese winger passed a late fitness test after being out for two weeks with a pulled hamstring, but looked short of rhythm and did little. According to Cadena SER, "it was good to see Oezil, Benzema and Xabi Alonso showing some leadership and initiative. This augurs well for the future of this team."

(Published 17 March 2011, 10:11 IST)

Follow us on