Friday, March 7, 2008
A REAL SHOCKER
Real's worst fears realized
Thu Mar 6, 2008 9:55am GMT
MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid's worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday when they exited the Champions League at the first knockout round for the fourth year in succession.
The nine-time champions were ruthlessly exposed by a high-quality Roma side who beat them 2-1 at the Bernabeu, completing a 4-2 aggregate victory that will have major repercussions at a club that measures success in terms of European trophies.
"We didn't have that magic we've shown on other nights," said skipper Raul, whose 61st Champions League goal was to no avail.
"It's a very heavy blow, a really big disappointment because the Champions League was one of our big objectives this season and now we are out of it.
"We were the better side in the first leg, but we came back with a very dangerous result and we weren't able to impose ourselves on opponents who showed themselves to be a very good team. We struggled to create any scoring chances."
Real were simply not as sharp, as hungry or as skilful as Roma and although they can point to the sending off of Portugal centre-back Pepe as the turning point in the tie, the defeat revealed more serious weaknesses.
The absence of leading striker Ruud van Nistelrooy through injury exposed the team's lack of alternatives up front, while the midfield once again looked short of pace and ideas.
SHARP PASSING Continued...