Sunday, December 2, 2007

Back to Winning Ways

Raul
What a game from El Kapitan... 2 goals including one from a shock free kick. I've never seen Raul take a Free Kick in my life. It still baffles me what made him say 'I wanna take this one'. I'm glad he did though coz it turned out to be a goal.
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Is Raul turning into the player he was in the pre-galactico era? 14 matches into the La Liga Season, and he's already got 8 goals, 1 more than his total from last season's campaign. That's a huge jump. There are a few obvious factors of course:
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1.) That he's not injured. I remember him tearing his ACL in that embarrassing El Classico where Ronaldinho torched us on a way to a 3-0 romp for Barca... and he was clearly out of it in the months that followed.
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2.) That he's playing in his favored position: 2nd Striker.
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3.) That he's playing this position behind a player that complements him almost perfectly: Ruud Van Nistelrooy. It has been said that Raul is best playing behind a Targetman-type '9', which is the type of player that RVN is... similar to Fernando Morientes, with whom he struck up a great strking partnership with. RVN is lethal in the box but is unselfish and willing to pass.... a different player from Ronaldo, who thrived at being given the ball for him to run at the defense and create a scoring chance for himself.
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4.) or is it simply just the oxygen room? Which I think more or less just tells us of Raul's professionalism and his dedication to keep himself fit.
The man ran his socks off and scored 2 great goals (the first one was a nice example of clinical finishing). Kudos to the Captain.
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The Midfield
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The Midfield was still unconvincing. After the Sneijder + Guti + Diarra midfield trio tailed off into poor performances, Schuster has reverted to a Capello-esque 'Double Pivot' with Diarra + Gago sitting behind Guti: a combination that saw RM thrash Valencia. The combination has tialed off too... Last night, we saw Schuster try Baptista out in a role similar to his position form his Sao Paolo days (so I read), paired with Diarra. Baptista had a pretty good game. His physical presence was felt, but we still got owned at the midfield: which means that we haven't figured out the right combination just yet.
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I would've liked to see Sneijder score... It'd be good for his sagging confidence. But Baptista did himself a favor with his performance last night. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the player who convinced RM to acquire him from Sevilla.
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Defense
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Someone should teach Marcelo to defend! Because while his offensive game can thrill, his defense is just absolutely hapless... and for a team that has a chronic problem of leaking goals, perhaps Heinze should be the first choice. That is if he gets healthy, otherwise why not give Torres a shot? He was pretty decent last season.
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In the meantime, Pepe continues to impress! We might have found one for keeps!

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