MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Pepe of Real Madrid controls the ball with his head injured during the La Liga match between Real madrid and Valencia at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 19, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Controversial, thrilling or lackluster--the press is conflicted on Madrid's opener against Valencia. The manager and players are in agreement, however: Madrid may not have played well, but they played better than Valencia and a win would have been deserved.
We begin with Barcelona based El Mundo Deportivo, who claim that our start to the league was "controversial" or, as their headline put it: 1-1: El Madrid comienza con empate y polémica. Translation: 1-1: Madrid starts with a draw and controversy.
They are, of course, casting doubt on the offside call against former Real Madrid man Roberto Soldado for Valencia's second "goal".
Their reading of our tactics: Lass Diarra's start was a mistake. His removal meant Ozil was pulled back next to Alonso to make room for Benzema.
Un estelar Diego Alves dejó al Real Madrid sin dos puntos para empezar writes Marca, coming straight to the point, if somewhat afflicted by hindsight bias. Translation: a stellar Diego Alves leaves Madrid without two starting points. The paper dubiously claims the game was "thrilling".
Canada's Globe & Mail gave a different reading of the game: "Real held in to draw in lackluster opener..."
According to As, Alves was "brilliant" and Jonás Gonçalves was man of the match. Lass was not a good enough partner for Xabi Alonso who was forced to rely on Angel di Maria. The Argentine is singled out for special praise by the paper.
As also points to controversy: but in this case, Gago's foul on di Maria in the box that should have been a penalty to Madrid.
Absolutely without exception (and absolutely without surprise) Germany's major sporting newspapers are pointing to the absence of Sami Khedira in the line-up as the most noteworthy aspect of the game. Welt Online, Zeit Online, Focus Online are all agreed: his absence was unexpected.
The Guardian reserved commentary for Madrid's game in a longer piece on Barcelona's 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad. The paper focused on Madrid's strong start to the game and unfortunate concession, as well as the lost points.
Aside from reviews of the game, all newspapers are reporting the following: Pepe is in hospital and remains there under watch with a breathing tube (purely precautionary) in an ICU unit.
Mourinho said the following, according to the club's website.
When you don’t win you always hope for more. It’s normal. It’s a game similar to last year. You always want to win. There’s no game where you draw and you’re satisfied. To lose this game was difficult, because the opposition hasn’t created chances to score. But you always draw games throughout the season. We drew last season. Last year it was Guaita who was the best player on the pitch and this year it has been Diego. I don’t think we played a great game but we did enough to win...Perhaps if we had played a little better, if we had played like we did in the second half, we would have had more opportunities. Perhaps if the ball had gone in off the post. But football isn’t about maybes. We have drawn and it’s a point for both teams. We played well enough to win but we should have and can play better.
From the same source: Cristiano Ronaldo.
We played well and created opportunities. We played well in the first half, and better in the second, but it was not to be. We had chances to score one or two more goals and get the win. This is the first match and it’s not the best result, but we must continue...It’s a shame about Pepe and we hope it’s not serious and he recovers soon...Now we are only thinking about the match against Barcelona. We have a Supercup match we have to win. We will give out all to win the game there and then win here to win the title...
Iker Casillas, in addition to praising Valencia's defense:
I’m ok. The last minutes of the first half were hard, but later I was ok. Pepe took the brunt of it, and he’ll spend the night in hospital. We hope he gets better soon because a knock to the head always causes tension...Now we have to prepare for an exciting title. As with last year, we play against Barcelona. It will be a beautiful, exciting match, in which two teams that play football and create goals go head to head. We are going there with the idea of winning.