Real Madrid Vs. Real Sociedad, La Liga 2012: Press Review

Denis Doyle

Controversy over the sending off, the captain's armband and the crowd reaction has overshadowed reviews of the game.

On a night when Cristiano Ronaldo matched Emilio Butragueño's goal-count for Madrid (they are tied for 8th place), and defensive midfielder Sami Khedira scored and assisted for the first time in his career in a single game, the papers were full of praise for both.

Marca made Khedira the focus of his own write-up in the paper praising not only his contribution, but the style with which he backheeled his goal, and assisted Benzema with a defence-splitting pass. He even, the paper notes, had time to miss a good chance on goal and "if these performances continue, it would be hard to see Jose Mourinho not choosing his German playmaker in future fixtures."

Marca has not always been a fan of Sami Khedira, so this praise (and the telling use of the term "play-maker") signifies an interesting sea change.

Cristiano Ronaldo was also proclaimed man of the match after scoring twice in quick succession when Madrid had been down to 10 men for more than an hour.

Match aside, the main theme in the press has been the substitution of Casillas for Antonio Adán.

Adan was sent off in the 5th minute after fouling Carlos Vela, and felt it was a harsh decision. He spoke after the game to say he was "angry" at what he believed should have been a yellow card. His coach, Jose Mourinho, agreed. He noted that with defenders between Adán and the goal, he wasn't the last man and the decision was harsh.

The coach's decision to replace Casillas for a second consecutive league match, and the crowd and press reaction to his sending off was the chief theme of Mourinho's press conference. The boss pointed out that Adán has been a Real Madrid player for 16 years and that in his view, press coverage of his recent playing opportunities has been "lacking in respect" for the player. Asked about the crowd reaction to the switch (and to Mourinho himself) the coach stated he doesn't care if the crowd whistles him.

Mourinho, in his own words (from As):

It was fine, I'm happy for them to boo me before the game and then support the team, like they have been doing, it's perfect. I think I was booed because I left Casillas out and because of our low position in the league. It's normal for me to get booed and I that's how I like it. I don't want to always be the hero, regardless of how well the team is doing. If they booed me for leaving out Iker then that's fine, and if they booed me because of my poor results, I accept that too.

I told Adán before this game and before the game against Málaga that if he got booed, it was because of me and not him. The fans have no problem with Adán and neither do the press, they have a problem with my decision and he is suffering the consequences. This is a problem in Spain but it's not a problem anywhere else. My personal belief is that there's been a lack of respect shown towards Adán. He's been at this club for 16 years and he grew up here, he is a boyhood Real Madrid fan, he is a homegrown player, and why shouldn't he have the right to be happy? You [the journalists] have turned a problem with Mourinho into showing a lack of respect towards Adán.

Another detail that has taken the attention of the newspapers: that Cristiano Ronaldo approached Iker Casillas to give up the captain's armband, but that Casillas gestured at him to keep it on.

Aside from controversy over armbands, starting places, and the sending off (and the excitement over the balon d'or ceremony), the game itself has received rave reviews as a spectacle. Madrid's comeback was termed "thrilling" in The Guardian and there seems a general feeling that Madrid may have turned a corner with this performance.

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