April 24, 2013

Casillas, Benzema on Real bench as Mourinho names squad against Dortmund

DORTMUND, Germany – Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho on Tuesday took the unusual step of revealing his starting line-up for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg at Borussia Dortmund with both Iker Casillas and Karim Benzema on the bench.

“Diego Lopez, Sergio Ramos, (Raphael) Varane, Pepe, (Fabio) Coentrao, (Sami) Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Mesut (Ozil), Higuain, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and hopefully Di Maria,” Mourinho told reporters in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.

Watch Mourinho at the conference.

Mourinho, 50, played down any problem between him and Real’s captain Casillas, a World Cup winner and Madrid stalwart, who has failed to regain his place in goal since breaking a bone in his hand earlier this year.

Casillas is reported to have said he will leave at the end of the season if he does not get more game time.

“My relationship with Iker Casillas is very professional, between two people who understand and work together,” said the coach when a Spanish reporter asked about his choice, having noted Lopez is carrying a slight injury.

Mourinho also preferred Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain over France’s Benzema, who scored in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Real Betis in La Liga.

“The only player who raises questions is (Angel) Di Maria because he just had a daughter and it’s not an easy situation,” the coach added.

“He went through a lot of emotions, we’ll see if it is fit for tomorrow (Wednesday).”(AFP)

Can Madrid avenge Barca’s defeat by thrashing Dortmund? Or are German machines too hot for Spanish clubs?