Real vulnerable to Champions League jinx at last-16 stage

21st February 2008, Comments 0 comments

If Real Madrid is to avoid exiting the European Champions League for the fourth season in a row at the last-16 stage, it will have to beat Roma in two weeks' time at the Bernabéu after Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat in the Italian capital.

21 February 2008

MADRID - If Real Madrid is to avoid exiting the European Champions League for the fourth season in a row at the last-16 stage, it will have to beat Roma in two weeks' time at the Bernabéu after Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat in the Italian capital.

The sensation surrounding the club that there it is dogged by a jinx in the first knockout round following the donkey work of slogging through each season's group stage can only be exacerbated by the fact that Real clearly dominated the game in Roma's Olympic Stadium, even taking an early lead before being undone by some canny Italian counterattacking and a certain profligacy in front of goal.

"We knew it was going to be very tough, given how effective Italian teams are," a disappointed coach Bernd Schuster said after the game, adding bitterly: "What's more, they are really good at wasting time when the score line is in their favour. It's an undeserved loss," he concluded.

In a game played at a furious pace, Raúl opened the scoring in the eighth minute by cleverly diverting Guti's shot into the Roma net. The Spanish champion then had chances to extend its lead, but instead David Pizarro levelled the game halfway through the first half, seizing on a loose ball inside the Madrid penalty area. After the break, Real continued to look for the win but was caught on the break, Brazilian winger Mancini slotting home after being played in by Francesco Totti.

Still, Raúl's goal means that a 1-0 win in Madrid would be enough to see Real into the last eight, but Real must manage without defender Sergio Ramos, who will be suspended after being harshly yellow-carded late in Tuesday's game.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / Jaume Bauzá Leira 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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