Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jose Mourinho's red mist at Real Madrid - 22 players sent off in 103 games

Jose Mourinho doesn't want to talk about it. The Real Madrid coach refused to speak to the media after his side's 1-1 draw at Villarreal on Wednesday, in protest at a series of refereeing decisions that he believes went against his team at El Madrigal. And the capital club, at Mourinho's request, then took the unusual step of cancelling their pre-match press conference altogether ahead of Saturday's match against Real Sociedad.

Behind the scenes, however, the Portuguese will not stay silent.

Mourinho himself was dismissed on Wednesday night, along with Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil and fitness coach Rui Faria. Pepe, despite reports to the contrary, was not shown a red card in the tunnel after the game, but added another blemish to his growing list of misdemeanours as he reportedly told the referee: "What a robbery, you son of a b***h."

Madrid were angry after match official Jose Luis Paradas Romero appeared to book Villarreal striker Marco Ruben twice, but failed to send off the Argentine, although the referee's report later revealed that the first card had been for Marcos Senna, who went on to smash home a free-kick to claim a point for the hosts and subject the visitors to their second draw in the space of four days. But while Mourinho moaned on the sidelines and Madrid were unlucky with the dismissal of Ozil, who was shown a straight red card for applauding the referee, there could be few complaints overall - indiscipline had cost them once more.

The Portuguese appeared most unhappy with the foul committed by Hamit Altintop just outside the area with eight minutes left. It was an identical position to where Esteban Granero had conceded a free kick on Sunday against Malaga. And the result was the same, too, as Senna emulated his former Villarreal team-mate Santi Cazorla and beat Iker Casillas with a stunning shot to seal a 1-1 draw. La Liga, all of a sudden, looked back on, as Barca are now just six points adrift of Madrid with 10 games left and a Clasico clash still to come at Camp Nou next month.

Since arriving at Madrid in the summer of 2010, Mourinho has now seen 22 players sent off in 103 games - and seven in 11 matches against Barcelona. The biggest offenders are Pepe and Ramos, with four red cards apiece (although the latter's last dismissal has since been converted to a single booking), followed by Alvaro Arbeloa with three. Marcelo, Angel Di Maria, Ozil and Ricardo Carvalho have all seen red twice under the Portuguese, while Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas complete the list with one dismissal each.

Wednesday's game was the third time Mourinho's Madrid have ended a game with nine men. The first of those, however, was a carefully planned exercise as Ramos and Alonso - on learning their coach's instructions via a message passed from Jerzy Dudek to Casillas and then to the Seville-born centre-back - both forced a second booking in the Champions League win at home to Ajax in order to serve suspension in Los Blancos' final group game in last season's Champions League.

The second time Madrid finished with nine players was against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa at Camp Nou earlier this season, when Marcelo and Ozil saw red at the end of an unsavoury encounter which will forever be remembered for Mourinho's eye-poking incident with Barca's assistant coach Tito Vilanova.

With Ramos' red card now reduced to a yellow by the RFEF, he can now play against Real Sociedad on Saturday, which represents a real relief for Mourinho as central-defensive partner Pepe has been banned for two games and cannot feature. The Portuguese will also be without Ozil, while he himself will be watching from the stands as Madrid look to return to winning ways on Saturday.

And with Barca closing in, they simply cannot afford to let any more points slip. Nor can they afford any more red cards.

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