Saturday 21 October 2017

madrid can send fergie and united packing

John Mullane

LIKE millions of people across the globe, I'll be transfixed by tomorrow night's second leg between Manchester United and Real Madrid in the Champions League at Old Trafford.

I've a huge affinity for Madrid and they're hitting form at the right time.

They beat Barcelona twice in the space of five days and I watched the Copa Del Rey match between the sides at the Nou Camp last week. Madrid scored three but could have hit five. When is the last time you could say that about a team visiting Barcelona? I can see Madrid winning 2-1 against United, as the wide open spaces at Old Trafford will suit them perfectly.

It's a massive game for Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (pictured) and this tie will define his reign there. I know he's won La Liga and the Copa Del Rey but 'Los Blancos' crave the big one – a 10th European Cup success. And if Real can clear this hurdle, they could be well on their way.

As for Barcelona, I have a theory on why they've declined recently.

Before, they had a 10-second rule in that they gave themselves 10 seconds to win the ball back after losing possession. I don't see that with them anymore.

I think it's a big part of the reason why Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are being exposed at the back. Madrid have laid that frailty bare over the past week and unless Barca get back to the principles that served them so well in the past, they'll continue to struggle.

fatherhood will teach o'driscoll it's only a game

I read some quotes from Brian O'Driscoll last week, how rugby is now number two in his life following the birth of his first child.

He's right – becoming a father brings with it a new perspective on life. Brian will have looked on rugby as the be all and end all before this but, after Ireland lost to England in the Six Nations, he was soon back at his wife's bedside.

And as soon as he saw his newborn child, he'll have thought, 'hey, it's only a game'. He'll realise too how lucky he is.

I often think about so many kids sick and suffering in hospitals and thank my lucky stars that my two daughters, Abbie and Katie, are healthy and well.

Irish Independent

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