Real Madrid: Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

Chris PotterCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2008

With all of the qualification issues in the U.E.F.A. Champions League already decided before tonight, perhaps the most significant match of the night was the tie at El Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Zenit.

Hours after Bernd Schuster's sudden departure, all eyes in the white half of Madrid were on new boss Juande Ramos, and how the club's faltering superstars would respond to the coach's arrival.

As it happened, Ramos' charges ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, thanks to a Raul brace and a goal from winger Robben.

It must be stressed, however, that this game was academic and Ramos' first real challenge will be the biggest match of his life—'El Classico' at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.

With real nine points behind the Catalan giants already, and following a hapless 4-3 defeat at home to Sevilla, Club President Ramon Calderon decided to replace one under-performing coach with another.

Juande Ramos, despite helping Spurs win their first silverware in nine years, was sacked in October, following a catastrophic sequence of league results stretching back to March. If his arrival caused much excitement, his departure was greeted with resignation.

Among the problems that he struggled to overcome this season in London were communication issues with his players and a lack of firepower.

Now he no longer has these issues. Now he no longer has an excuse. Any excuse he may conjure up will, in any case, fall on deaf ears.

He has signed a six-month contract. With Real's record of hiring and firing coaches, he may not even see this contract out if his players don't start firing immediately.

Having stated his desire to move back to Madrid following his departure from White Hart Lane, Ramos has now been granted his wish. With his knowledge of Spanish football and players and his previous successes at Sevilla, he has the credentials to succeed. 

How his side performs over 90 minutes against arguably the in-form team in Europe could shape his tenure at the biggest club in the world.

Ramos' selection policies at Spurs were often debated furiously among supporters. The faith he showed in Didier Zokora, while credible, bewildered man.  And while speculation linking the Ivorian with a move to Real may be far-fetched, Ramos may tinker with the first team both now and in the transfer market in an effort to play catch up with Barcelona.

Having made no outfield changes for his first game in charge, he must now hope that his players will have enough energy, guile and quality to at least match Pep Guardiola's stars, who were rested for their final group match against Shakthar Donetsk.

Key to Real's chances will be the impressive Sergio Ramos and experienced Cannavaro and Casillas—if they play.

Scoring goals is Real Madrid's forte. If they can start keeping them out at the other end, they may stay in contention for the La Liga crown a while yet.