Real Madrid left reeling as European focus found wanting

Friday, 26 April 2013 05:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Real Madrid’s nightmare in Dortmund comes as a greater surprise than Barcelona’s mauling in Munich, given coach Jose Mourinho has given up on La Liga to focus on the Champions League.

The nine-times European Cup winners were overwhelmed 4-1 by a dynamic Borussia Dortmund in their semi-final first leg on Wednesday, though Cristiano Ronaldo’s away goal gives them a glimmer of hope for the return at the Bernabeu next Tuesday.

Barca’s injury problems and inconsistent form had been more apparent before their 4-0 defeat at Bayern Munich on Tuesday, while Real appeared to have geared all their planning towards their bid for a 10th European crown.

“Extraordinary. In two days the top two in the class have been swept aside,” said the editorial in Madrid-based sports daily AS on Thursday.

“It almost impressed me more what happened yesterday, because I never remotely considered the possibility of it.”

Mourinho has openly conceded defeat in the defence of their La Liga title for months, saying their priority was Europe and the King’s Cup, where they meet Atletico Madrid in the final on May 17.

In recent weeks, he has fielded weakened sides in the league to conserve the energies of an expensively assembled and almost injury-free squad.

They trail leaders Barca by 13 points with six games remaining and could see their arch-rivals secure the trophy this Saturday, if the Catalans win at Athletic Bilbao and Real lose the city derby at Atletico.