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Monday, March 14, 2005

Madrid tumbling as Europe's best

Watched Getafe v Real Madrid yesterday, and once again the Galacticos didn't impress. The score suggests that but that's not always the case. Teams have played overwhelmingly yet lose to sucker goals or to a simply crafted goal. Barcelona were like this against Chelsea and it was Chelsea who had the fewest chances, fewer attacks even, in the second half yet scored and qualified. But yesterday's La Liga match was different.

Getafe were 16th before the game, so the equivalent in the Premiership is Fulham beating Man Utd. Not impossible but on paper, with current form, you'd probably look at an away win. However, Real are not in the Copa Del Ray, are also, like Utd, out of the Champs League, a campaign both are renowned for doing well in. And another similar fact is they both occupy 2nd place with a margin between that and top position, Madrid were facing 8pts like Utd now, but this morning stare out at 11pts. Luxemburgo had a face as if to say to asst. Marcos Teixeira 'where are we going wrong?' In charge of a team full of influential internationals like Madrid, if that is the question one is asking as a coach, then the position is untenable.

But indeed, what has happened at the Bernabeu, named after former chairman of the Board of Directors, Santiago Bernabeu? Honour is in the stadium's name alone, Mr Bernabeu borrowed finance to buy the very plot of land which is foundation to Real. But it's not the stadium. Is it the coach? Possibly, but football fans are on the thinking line of not so much that the problem lies with the coach or manager solely, but spreads to the players. In bringing players to the club, the manager would want to have the overall say on who comes and who doesn't, he is the one who manages and trains the players to play how he wants them to.

Harry Redknapp. Fretted about a director of football coming into Fratton Park and left. Mandaric wouldn't change his mind. Would Zejec have overall say in the management of the players and transfers? Redknapp didn't sit around to find out. Football through and through, he stood stubborn on this point. He manages the team, he is criticised if it goes wrong, he is sacked if it goes horribly wrong, under that responsibility he should be allowed to dictate such matters.

At the Bernabeu, is Vanderlei Luxemburgo allowed to do the same thing? Already they had Morientes and Solari (technically midfielder), Portillo, Raul and Ronaldo but they bought Owen. Guti, Figo, Zidane, Makelele, again the option of Solari, but bought Beckham and Gravesen. Woodgate hasn't looked at a Spanish ball much less kicked one in La Liga. Four purchases from the Premiership. Owen at the expense of Morientes, different class but which one would most people pick? Makelele out for Beckham, Gravesen in to help add bite to the midfield. The purchases are great, that is when Woodgate is fully fit, but to what avail? Did they really need Owen?

Real had Casillas, Raul Bravo, Helguera, Samuel, Carlos, Figo, Guti, Gravesen, Zidane, Raul and Ronaldo starting. Getafe took the game to them and hardly came off the pedal. Helguera flapped in the box and the ball spun in the air for a low volley by Raul Albiol. Going in at half time, you'd have thought Madrid would get together and vow to not only equalise, but increase their playability tenfold as Getafe had too much possession. Then former Madrid man Riki emerged one-on-one to beat Casillas two mins into the second half, Bravo playing him on. Zidane and Figo came off for Solari and Owen respectively, so three top class international strikers and still Madrid looked vulnerable to a third.

Luxemburgo said when he came to Real that "[t]here are four fundamental factors which the team needs to function as required. Discipline, unity, hard work and professionalism,......what we need to form a team to win competitions." Hard Work has dwindled, it's at half peak, shall we say. Unity forms from hard work, as hard work cultivates chances and goals, thus the team have formed unity to create. Discipline has negatively propped up, while Getafe had two yellows via Albiol and Yordi (Albiol tooked off his shirt in celebration, so that was for regulation), Samuel, Gravesen and Helguera went into the book too easily.

Yet discipline is also key to keeping a cool head and aiming on target. Professionalism. The players behave off the field, they behave on it enough, I cant see this factor being questioned. Except for when Ronaldo decided to go to Paris to host a Valentine's Day party and injure his toe with a falling object. Not professional to return to Real Madrid with, especially late. Under Luxemburgo, Owen cannot get a regular start, though a section of the crowd call for this to occur. When Owen came on yesterday, it could have been for any of the 10 outfield players, none of them played particularly well.

If Raul and Ronaldo wish to play about with the possibility of either of them being dropped, it will be to their peril. Perez has spoken out in support of current football matters regarding Real's performance. If Luxemburgo has his and the board's support, then the coach should face axing one of those two strikers and make way for a regular appearance from Owen. Owen came on in the 64th min but couldn't receive any service to make any threat on the goal. Out of Guti, Gravesen and Solari, the Spaniard and the Dane can find passes and tackle, only Solari can be seen to make runs from midfield into the box. This he did well when the ball came to him in injury time and he hooked a mid-air volley past Aragones, which came as Getafe began to relax too much, thinking it was game over at 2-0.

The problem with Real is that a number of players are not performing with effort. It's the same at Liverpool, good players with pedigree yet the passing, movement, possession and effort on goal are dismal at times, or have been. There isn't enough determination and drive to ensure that any and every ball passed, shot or repossessed is kepted that way for the majority of the game until final whistle. Arsenal are class at keeping the ball, passing and movement sublime that by the time reality hits you they've scored. Watch as Drogba or Lampard or Gudjohsen, Robben, Duff even, as they aim at goal, more times than not it's on target. Moan-rinho asks of nothing less.

The spark has gone out at Real, and either the players will train harder to improve or the coach should drop the axe and install Owen, as he has shown his keenness to score. The only other option is to change the coach. Yes, I know.......again.



Blogger T said...

An excellent review Redsman. Real Madrid are like some over-financed, low on quality, Hollywood blockbuster: All the stars, but no plot.

3/16/2005 1:22 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

It's terrible that with the finace came top players who won like a wave flows through little surfers. But suddenly a stem of rot occured and the team of international talented players cannot perform enough. The old heads should blend together to solve this issue otherwise the likes of Getafe wont be the only chopping adversaries coming Madrid's way.


3/17/2005 6:27 pm


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