Rafael Nadal may have his own problems at the moment, but the Spanish tennis superstar has taken the time to comment on the crisis occurring at his beloved Real Madrid this week.
Before coming unstuck at the hands of Andy Murray in Sunday’s Madrid Open final, the former world no.1 had been in attendance at the Santiago Bernabeu to see Carlo Ancelotti’s men concede further ground to bitter rivals Barcelona in the La Liga title-race after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia.
In the most expensively assembled football squad in history; players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric have been unable to keep Los Blancos ahead of their Clasico rivals and they now face a battle to retain their European Champions title after Juventus drew first blood in their two-legged semi-final last week.
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One of the main targets of criticism from disgruntled fans in Madrid has been their long-serving captain, Iker Casillas. The veteran goalkeeper has had his place in the squad questioned after some poor form, but another one of the country’s most famous sportsmen has leapt to the 33-year-old’s defence.
"Iker is not to blame for the goals," he reportedly told journalists after the Valencia draw in which Real came from 2-0 down to secure a point, Ronaldo also missed a first-half penalty.
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"What seems to have happened is the public is just too demanding.
"Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Iker Casillas ... these are players who have done a lot for this club. As a rule, one's own players shouldn't be booed."
WORRIES ALL AROUND
Nadal admitted that the result leaves Barca as title favourites, but he was unable to cure his own disappointment by landing the Madrid Open title.
As in previous years, Madrid players have tuned out to repay Nadal’s support and watch his own matches when in town. This year, the likes of Ronaldo and Bale have been pictured in the crowd for the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s duels.
They would have been happy with what they saw earlier in the week as the 28-year-old looked in fine fettle, however Murray brutally denied him with a crushing 6-3 6-2 scoreline in their final.
Nadal’s ‘King of Clay’ tag looks shakier than ever and his fans will be fearing that this year’s French Open will be just the second time that their hero leaves Paris empty-handed.
Novak Djokovic – Nadal’s Barca equivalent – could finally land his Career Slam having been denied time after time by the Majorcan star, but even British no.1 Murray will count himself as a contender for a first Grand Slam in France too.
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