Ozil On Song As Real Eye Elusive 10th

In his weekly column, 'El Loco' says that Real Madrid look to cruise in to semis of the Champions League while Barcelona were held back by PSG and Messi’s injury.


Real Madrid are on fire.

The 3-0 thrashing of Turkish club Galatasaray in the Champions League quarter-final at the Bernabeu proved that Real are on course in their bid to win the 10th title in this elite European competition.

It was a convincing performance by Jose Mourinho's men. It would now take a miracle for Galatasaray to stop Real from marching to the last four next.

Some expected the Turkish side to put up a fight against Real with the presence of their own stars like Didier Drogba and Burak Yilmaz but this was not the case.

Leading the cast in Real's success on Wednesday is surely Germany international midfielder Mesut Ozil.

The 24-year-old was instrumental in assisting the team - via his finesse and improvisation as an attacking midfielder - with some superb passes.

He was match-of-the-match for Real, to many.

When Ozil is on song, it is always difficult to stop him from providing assists for his deadly teammates like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain to do the damage upfront.

The good news for Real is that Benzema and Higuian seemed to have regained their scoring touches as well.

If Ozil can maintain this kind of form, then Real are capable of making the final and inch one step closer to winning the Champions League for the 10th time, which has been somehow elusive.

The last time Los Blancos won the title was way back in 2002. And it is high time for them to be installed as the 'Kings of Europe' again.

Meanwhile, Real president Florentino Perez has made it clear to Mourinho he wants him to stay.

Punto Pelota reported the pair met last week to discuss Mourinho's situation and Perez wanted the Portuguese to continue next season.

Mourinho insists that he has not signed any contract with any club, though it remains undecided over whether he will remain in Madrid.

Perez understands Mourinho's position, knowing he has been hurt by the treatment from the Madrid media this season and his battles in the locker room.

But there is a growing feeling inside the Real boardroom that Mourinho is leaning towards staying.

Will Mourinho stay?

But more pressing is that Lionel Messi suffered a hamstring injury during Barcelona's 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League first leg quarter-final on Tuesday in Paris.

And he is now doubtful for the return leg at Nou Camp next Wednesday.

It is a huge blow to the Catalans if the Argentine genius can't play.

Like it or not, Barca will be affected if he is not around. However, they still have superstars like Andres Iniesta and Xavi to lead the way in the attacking aspect.

This was evident in Paris after Messi was substituted at half time.

And Barca need goals in the return leg as PSG are capable of scoring - especially with the hosts having problems in defence with injuries to Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

It is unfortunate that Messi picked up an injury at this crucial stage of the competition.

The last time Messi was injured was in September 2010, when a foul by Tomas Ujfalusi ruled him out for 10 days with a sprained ankle.

Since then, Messi has had knocks and niggles but nothing too big to prevent him from playing in almost every fixture.

This season, he has only missed 119 minutes of action in Primera Liga, 105 minutes in the Champions League as well as Copa del Rey ties against Alaves and Cordoba.

The coming Liga match against Mallorca this weekend will be the first complete game he misses.

The last time Messi did not feature in Primera Liga was in the 25th game of last season - against Sporting Gijon when he was suspended.

Barca right-back Dani Alves said that the players are up for covering the absence of Messi.

"The fact that we don’t have him is an incentive to prove to everyone that we have enough quality to compete without him and show that we can do it just was well when he’s here," said Alves.

"It’s a challenge for us to defeat PSG without Messi, but, obviously, it would be better if he was there."

It is going to be tricky for Barca against PSG if Messi is not around. It is time for Barca fans to pray hard so that Messi, somehow, will be fit next Wednesday.