srijeda, 6. siječnja 2010.

Osasuna 0-0 Real Madrid: Limp Los Blancos Held By Camacho's Charges

Real Madrid limped into 2010 as they escaped from Pamplona with just a point against a gutsy Osasuna side. The hosts had the better of the chances in the first half while Gonzalo Higuain squandered Los Blancos best chance in the second 45 minutes.

Playing in difficult conditions, Osasuna had the better of a high-tempo first half. Jose Antonio Camacho's side were a threat from set pieces and used the long throw-ins of Cesar Azpilicueta to good effect in the opening period.

Real struggled to win the midfield battle and relied on the advancing Alvaro Arbeloa to produce something down the left. He was full of tricks, but all too often his team-mates couldn't capitalise on his crosses.

Osasuna came close to breaking the deadlock twice in the first half and both times it was through set-pieces.

First, it was Reversio who nodded an inviting Juanfran free-kick just wide on the half hour mark and ten minutes later Javad Nekounam forced Iker Casillas into a last ditch save, as his header from Francisco Punal's corner bounced in front of the Real Madrid shot stopper.

Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to exert his usual influence on the game as he tried to pick out white shirts who weren't on his wavelength.

The Portuguese wizard went to ground far too easily in the dying stages of the first half as he was closed down by three red shirts on the edge of the box. The former Red Devil was lucky to not pick up a booking for simulation, but Walter Pandiani wasn't so fortunate as he saw yellow for a peculiar incident moments later.

The striker got booked for intercepting a long throw from Casillas which clearly struck his head and the Uruguayan was furious.

Knowing a win would return them to the summit of La Liga, Real were more determined for the second half and went close through Marcelo, who tested Ricardo with a rasper just seconds in.

Their best chances fell to Gonzalo Higuain who was played in by Marcelo on the hour mark and dragged his shot wide of the six yard box when he had time and space to compose himself.

Moments later it was the hosts who nearly opened the scoring in a crazy minute of action.

Javier Camunas played in an excellent crossfield ball which appeared destined for Pandiani, only for Sergio Ramos to stick a leg out and prevent the danger. From his clearance the whites went on the break and it was Higuain again who broke into the box and with only the keeper to beat he put his effort skyward.

The visitors introduced Raul and Karim Benzema as they went in search of a winner. Real's summer signing from Lyon impressed with an angled drive that whizzed past the post moments after coming on.

Osasuna forced a flurry of corners in the closing stages as they more than held their own against their glamorous visitors from the capital.

Coach Camacho continued to roar his side on who were good value for their point as Real could only lament not taking advantage of Barcelona's rare slip up against Villarreal on Saturday.

Player Ratings

OSASUNA

Ricardo: 7 - Anticipated the danger well when Real broke early in the first half and punched away any threats which came his way.

Azpilicueta: 7.5 - His long thrown ins caused Real no end of problems particularly in the first half. Stole the ball from Ronaldo in the first half to set up Aranda and also created a chance for Pandiani with a curling cross which deserved better.

Roversio: 7 - Went close with a header from a corner kick and intercepted several Real attacks when the whites went in search of a winner in the second half.

Miguel Flano: 7.5 - Tested Casillas with a looping header in the second half. Made a vital intervention to deny Sergio Ramos who had space in the danger area late on.

Monreal: 6.5 - Battled with Van der Vaart and did well to continue after the latter barged him to ground early in the match.

Punal: 6 - His corner kicks were hit and miss. Given that his side forced so many he'll be disappointed not to have done better.

Nekounam: 7 - Another who tested Casillas with a downward header. He was always a threat from set-pieces.

Juanfran: 7.5 - Played in some excellent crosses and made himself available for possession given any opportunity.

Camunas: 7.5 - Along with Juanfran they were a vital outlet for the Pamplona outfit as they scooped a valuable point.

Aranda: 7 - Wrestled with Albiol and was a threat with his physical presence. Looked irked to be taken off on the hour mark and rightly so given his contribution.

Pandiani: 6.5 - Picked up a harsh booking for intercepting Casillas' clearance in the first half. Would have been the hero had his toe been able to connect with Camunas' fine cross only for Sergio Ramos to clear the danger.

Substitues

Masoud: 7.5 - A threat as soon as he came on for the last half an hour.

Ruper: - N/A

Calleja: - N/A

REAL MADRID

Casillas: 7 - Did what he needed to do to keep Osasuna at bay throughout. Made a hash of a Flano header in the second half when he would have been better claiming the ball instead of punching it.

Sergio Ramos: 7 - Wasn't on the same wavelength as Ronaldo in the first-half when his team-mate tried to put him through in a promising position in the final third. Made an important clearance to deny Pandiani in a crazy minute of action in the second half.

Garay: 6.5 - Nothing special as he and Albiol tried to get to grips with an imposing Aranda up front.

Albiol: 6.5 - Chanced a shot from range early on and enjoyed a physical battle with Aranda during the latter's hour on the pitch.

Arbeloa: 7.5 - Got forward often in the first half and showed a range of tricks to set up some half chances. Picked up a booking for a reckless challenge on Juanfran.

Lassana Diarra: 6 - Gave the ball away too often in the first half and didn't look his more dependable self on a poor night for Real.

Xabi Alonso: 6.5 - Better than Diarra but not by much. Did well to put his body on the line late on to get the ball away when Osasuna forced several corner kicks.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 6.5 - Not his best night in a Real shirt by far. Had one free kick which went well over and although he looked dangerous when he got on the ball he didn't see it enough. Went to ground too easily in the first half and should have been booked for simulation.

Marcelo: 6.5 - Had a couple of attempts from range and rasped the gloves of Ricardo with a fierce drive early in the second half. Played in a good through ball for Higuain which the striker should have done better from.

Van der Vaart: 7 - Did well before being substituted with an hour gone. Created some half chances for himself and should have stayed on longer than Higuain.

Higuain: 5.5 - Missed two golden opportunities to send Real to the summit of La Liga but left his shooting boots at home. It wasn't a surprise when he was replaced late on.

Substitutes

Benzema: 6.5 - Went close with two shots after being introduced and linked up well with Ronaldo to fire a drive which just rolled shy of the post.

Raul: - N/A

Granero: - N/A

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About Real Madrid C.F.

Real Madrid Club de Fútbol , commonly known as Real Madrid (and in Spain, within an adequate context, simply as el Madrid), is a professional football club based in Madrid, Spain. It is the most successful team in Spanish football and was voted by FIFA as the most successful club of the 20th century, having won a record thirty-one La Liga titles, seventeen Spanish Cups, a record nine European Cups and two UEFA Cups. Real was a founding member of FIFA and the now-defunct G–14 group of Europe's leading football clubs as well as its replacement, the European Club Association. The word "Real" in the club's name is the Spanish term for "Royal", and was added in 1920 together with the royal crown in the emblem.

Founded in 1902, Real Madrid has since spent all of its history in the top flight of Spanish football. In the 1940s, the club, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Ciudad Deportiva were rebuilt following the Spanish Civil War. The club established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football during the 1950s. In the 1980s, the club had one of the best teams in Spain and Europe (known as La Quinta del Buitre), winning two UEFA Cups, five Spanish championships in a row, one Spanish cup and three Spanish Super Cups.

The team traditional home colours are all white, although it initially adopted a blue oblique stripe on the shirt. Its crest has been changed several times in attempts to modernise or re-brand; the current crest is a modified version of the one first adopted in the 1920s. Real's home ground is the 80,354-person-capacity Santiago Bernabéu football stadium in downtown Madrid, where it has played since 1947.

Real Madrid holds long-standing rivalries with some other clubs; the most notable of these is with FC Barcelona, the two teams regularly contest in El Clásico. Unlike most European football clubs, Real Madrid's members (socios) have owned and operated the club since its inception. The club is the world's richest football club (€351m) in terms of revenue and the second most valuable (worth over €950m as of 2008).