Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is hoping his goal-shy team rediscover their goalscoring form in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu against Turkish giants Galatasaray today.
Cristiano Ronaldo kept up his imperious form with his 43rd goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at Real Zaragoza, but the lack of goals from other areas of the pitch concerns Mourinho.
“Perhaps that is one of the differences this season,” he said. “Last season, with four chances we would score three goals, we were scoring goals with great ease and the only one who has maintained a similar average has been Cristiano.”
Indeed, since the turn of the year, Ronaldo has nearly outscored his teammates single-handedly with 21 goals to their combined 23.
However, Mourinho is particularly concerned about the form of strikers Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain.
“All the others have gone down in their numbers of goals and obviously the team feels the consequences,” he said. “The goals will come. If they don’t arrive on Wednesday, then we hope they will do so in the next game, but it is a reality that we are having some difficulties in scoring goals.”
Mourinho also indicated that Iker Casillas would not be involved against the Turkish champions, despite returning to training following a hand injury.
Raphael Varane and Fabio Coentrao are expected to return after missing the Zaragoza game with slight muscle injuries, while Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria will also start after being rested at the weekend.
Mourinho said while some might have felt Galatasaray were one of the easier teams to draw, he was not of that opinion.
“This is a team that is used to the Champions League and who not only have two former winners of this competition, [Didier] Drogba and [Wesley] Sneijder, but also players who have played for other top clubs,” he said.
Both Drogba and Sneijder have played under Mourinho at Chelsea and Inter respectively, and Sneijder has said he enjoyed the best time of his career under the Portuguese in Italy.
“Mourinho is like a second father to me,” he told Spanish sports daily Marca. “He is a machine. In football we have players who are machines and since I have known Mourinho, we can say we have managers who are machines. He is a very special person for me.”
The Netherlands international also believes that his side have a chance of progressing if they can ensure the tie is still alive for the return leg in Istanbul.
“For us, it is very important to arrive at the game in Istanbul with a realistic chance of going through. If we manage to arrive here with the tie still open it would be incredible,” Sneijder said. “Our fans always support the team a lot and anything can happen.”