Sports

Real Madrid hoping Bernabeu magic will work vs. Man City in Champions League semifinal, second leg


The time period is “miedo escenico” and it interprets as “stage fright,” although there’s way more to it than that. It is a mixture of insecurity, self-doubt, powerlessness and a way that you’re battling towards the inevitable, trying to subvert a future that destiny has already written. Former Real Madrid ahead/thinker Jorge Valdano used it to explain what occurs to opponents on the Bernabeu as they discover themselves falling sufferer to the early indicators of a comeback by the house workforce. Valdano himself borrowed it from Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and it has develop into a part of the narrative not simply of the membership, however all of “Madridismo.”

It is also what Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will probably be going through on Wednesday evening once they journey to the Spanish capital to defend their 4-3 benefit from the primary leg.

Rationally, Guardiola ought to inform himself and his gamers that it is nonsense as a result of, nicely, it’s nonsense. In a rational world, there isn’t a such factor. His gamers had been in a Champions League remaining lower than a yr in the past. His gamers additionally loved 60% possession within the first leg, outshot Madrid 16-11 and had an Anticipated Targets (xG) that was a complete objective larger than their opponent’s. The pitch will probably be comparable in measurement on the Bernabeu, will probably be 11 vs. 11, and his crew is prime of the desk within the Premier League, which is the most effective league on the earth proper now. There is not any motive to concern: simply exit and play the sport.

By no means thoughts that noise you heard. There is not any beast beneath your mattress. Not in your closet. Not in your head.

The issue is, sports activities aren’t wholly rational to start with; actually, soccer might be a complete heck of lots much less rational than others, and for those who imagine in one thing, generally you may make it develop into actuality. Whether or not you are doing all of your hardest to not (like Man City), or whether or not you are milking it as a lot as potential for it to be true (like Real Madrid).

It was Juanito, Real Madrid’s winger and cult hero of the Eighties, who supposedly coined the phrase “90 minutes is a long time in the Bernabeu.” He mentioned it to an Inter defender earlier than the second leg of the 1984-85 UEFA Cup semifinal, with Real Madrid needing to overturn a 2-0 deficit. They did, successful 3-0 (and, later, the ultimate itself).

Taken in isolation, it is only a neat anecdote from almost 40 years in the past. Nevertheless it’s layered into the historical past of the membership. Earlier than: 1975-76 Derby County, 1-4 away and 5-1 at house; 1979-80 Celtic, 0-2 away and 3-0 at house; 1984-85 Anderlecht, 0-3 away and 6-1 at house. And after: 1985-86 Borussia Moenchengladbach, 1-5 away and 4-0 at house; 2015-16 Wolfsburg, 0-2 away and 3-0 at house. It begins to tackle that means. And, in probably the most eerie approach, we noticed it once more this season.

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Towards Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid went into the second leg 1-0 down having been completely outplayed on the Parc des Princes. They conceded at house and, with half-hour to go, they had been 2-0 down on combination earlier than a Karim Benzema hat trick made it 3-2. Within the quarterfinal towards Chelsea, there was a little bit of a twist. This time, they received the primary leg away, 3-1, solely to seek out themselves 3-0 down and heading for the exit at house. Rodrygo discovered the web to ship the sport into extra time, when Benzema (who else?) scored to clinch the spot within the semifinal.

We noticed it of their LaLiga season, too. Towards Sevilla, in November: 1-0 down, Vinicius scores with three minutes to go they usually win 2-1. Towards Elche: down 2-0 with eight minutes to go, snatch a attract damage time. Or, certainly, Valencia again in September: down 1-0, 4 minutes left, they usually win 2-1.

Voodoo? Hoodoo? The ghost of Juanito? Manifest future? Who is aware of: the purpose is that they imagine in it, a lot in order that Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti pushes buttons by joking about it. Requested not too way back what he was pondering again in 2014 within the Champions League remaining in Lisbon, along with his workforce trailing rivals Atletico Madrid and with a single minute left in damage time, he mentioned: “I was pretty calm. I told myself we still have 60 seconds. That can be a really, really long time.”

And it was. Sergio Ramos headed within the equalizer and Real Madrid romped to a 4-1 win in further time, clinching their tenth European Cup.

Ancelotti instructed me years in the past that the bizarre factor in regards to the Bernabeu is you could be 3-0 up and nonetheless get booed by the gang if they do not like the best way you are taking part in. The thought was that that is Real Madrid, there is a sure method to do issues and it is much less in regards to the consequence (as a result of that is anticipated) than the way you get there.

This season, it appears like this narrative has been changed by certainly one of manifest future, inevitability and the way perception can carry you over the road. It is what Real Madrid rode on their method to securing their thirty fifth LaLiga title over the weekend.

At this level, you could be questioning: is it even actual? Is there any statistical proof that Real Madrid acquire extra dramatic comebacks at house than different groups? I will be sincere: I have never checked. Anyone else can go and do this. And I have never checked as a result of it actually does not matter whether or not it is true — it is a part of the narrative, and sufficient people imagine it’s actual that it begins to impression the sport.

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Luis Garcia feels Real Madrid should maintain Carlo Ancelotti on as supervisor after they received their thirty fifth LaLiga title.

We will attempt to clarify it in several methods. This can be a facet brimming with skilled veterans of the “been there, done that” selection. They not often get spooked or rattled. In a knockout competitors of a low-scoring sport, they’ve the perfect mixture of a standout, shutdown goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois) and particular person match winners (most notably presumptive Ballon d’Or winner Benzema, in addition to Luka Modric and Vinicius Jr.). The 90,000-strong crowd on the hulking Bernabeu could make an terrible racket.

In pundit converse, “patience” is sweet and “lack of urgency” is unhealthy, however they’re two sides of the identical coin. And when Real Madrid chase video games, even once they do not succeed (keep in mind the 4-0 house humiliation towards Barcelona?) the vibe is mostly certainly one of endurance. In some way, this will get channelled to the gamers. (No less than till the ultimate whistle, as a result of once they lose, typically, all bets are off and native media and followers may be as vicious towards their very own gamers as anyplace on Earth.)

However actually, we’re clutching at straws. Possibly probably the most rational clarification is that Juanito was proper: time actually does get warped on the Bernabeu when Real Madrid are behind. It is what Real Madrid will imagine on Wednesday evening towards City, and it is what Guardiola will wish to shut out of his gamers’ minds (and his personal). Whereas he is at it, he’ll wish to be sure the ghost of Juanito does not materialise in his gamers’ heads, reminding them simply how lengthy 90 minutes within the confines of the Bernabeu can final.



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