While Atletico Madrid was on their way to claiming the Copa del Rey last week, José Mourinho was being sent off during his last major match at Real Madrid’s helm. When Cristiano Ronaldo saw red in extra time, the Merengues couldn’t have had a more fitting end to a bitterly disappointing season.
With their 2-1 win, the Atleti snapped a 14-year unbeaten run against their capital tormentors, depriving El Real of the thin silver lining they’d hoped to take into the summer. How else do you end a season that started with promise, ended in turmoil, and became microcosm of Mourinho’s time in Madrid?
Now comes the check. Both Mourinho and Ronaldo have been handed two-match bans, suspensions that only apply to cup play. Mourinho’s ban was given for the protestations that saw him dismissed. Ronaldo gets a one-match ban for the red card and a second one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, having been cautioned earlier in the match.
Neither punishment’s likely to mean anything. When this news was handed down, José Mourinho was probably walking movers through his house in Madrid, pointing at baroque designs and classical prints – the curt instructions like a puppet José: “Take it. Leave it. Take it. Forget it.” Unless he coaches in Spain again, this suspension’s never getting served, and unless Barcelona has a change of heart in the future, Mourinho’s days in La Liga are probably done.
Ronaldo, for all the rumors surrounding him, is likely to stay in Madrid, which means he’ll probably serve his suspension. Yet given the nature of the Copa del Rey it’s unlikely to matter. Real Madrid’s latest opponents in their opening Copa rounds have been Sporting Gijon, Ponferradina, Murcia, and Alcorcon (to whom they lost in 2009). If they can’t beat those teams without Ronaldo, a Copa exist won’t be the team’s biggest problem.