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Real Breaks Record Despite Poor Form

  • Reuters, Monday, January 14, 2008 3:30 PM
Seven points adrift of second-place Barcelona and sporting the highest points tally (47) after 19 games in La Liga's history of the modern points system, Real Madrid should be earning accolades across Europe for charging through La Liga this season. Wrong. As respected writer Santiago Segurola told La Marca on Monday, "The results are excellent but they cannot disguise the crisis at the leaders who are playing vulgar soccer."

Indeed, former Real coach Fabio Capello was given his marching orders last season for the similarly vulgar -- according to club officials, anyway -- manner in which his team won the Spanish league title last season. Bernd Schuster was supposed to usher in a new brand of soccer at the Bernabeu, although that hasn't been the case. Instead, Schuster's Merengues have been eking out wins, and late ones at that. On Sunday, it took his men 76 minutes and one dubious penalty to score against bottom club Levante. Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy later completed his brace with a long-range effort with two minutes to spare. It must be said, however, that the Spanish champion looked poor value for its league standing over the first 75 minutes.

Meanwhile, rival Barcelona was electrifying at home to Murcia on Saturday, creating scores of chances while hitting the back of the net four times -- all without injured regulars Ronaldinho, Deco and Lionel Messi, while holding midfielder Yaya Toure had already left for international duty with the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations. Next week Barca adds two-goal hero Samuel Eto'o to the list, as he leaves for the same tournament to be with Cameroon.

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