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!

2007-12-01: Real Madrid 3 - Racing Santander 1

2007-11-28: Werder Bremen 3 - Real Madrid 2

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Bad Week

A Draw in Murcia and a loss to Werder Bremen.
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We're having a BAD week.... that's very clear now. Shit. Shit. Shit. What a pisser. Some thoughts / observations on the matches:
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1.) Raul and RVN BOTH looked lost in both matches. Are they getting fed the right balls from midfield? or are they just not playing with the necessary energy to fight for the incoming passes for them to pounce? RVN missed a sitter that would have made is 2-2 vs. Bremen (it became 3-1 seocnds after that chance). What's up? Tired?
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2.) Guti needs to have his head checked and get his act together (what the fuck was that red card all aobut!?!??!). RM better work the phones fast and secure Diego (better Cesc, though looking more and more impossible) so we don't have to waste our hopes and time on waiting for the moment Guti will start acting like a mature player whom the team can regard as a Vice Captain. His talent is unquestionable... but bloody hell, his temper, attitude and inconsistency is really a massive liability for the team considering the importance of his role.
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3.) What happened to the Double Pivot that destroyed Valencia? We were like pussies vs. Murcia and the Gago-Diarra tandem was overrun by Bremen's midfield. Was their performance at the Mestalla an aberration? We got owned at midfield which brings us to...
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4.) Terrible Defense again. Where the hell is the Christoph Metzelder who was once hailed as Beckenbauer's 2nd coming? What happened to the Fabio Cannavaro who captained Italy to lift the World Cup?
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5.) Sergio Ramos looks tired.
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6.) Marcelo is slowly being exposed as the amateur he might really still be. Would it be better if we just keep him in RM Castilla for the moment? Torres and play Left Back and though he's no Roberto Carlos, he's not really comical with his defending. Coz right now it seems pretty clear that everyone knows that the way into RM's defense is through Marcelo's wing... and that's a problem.
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7.) I'm happy at least that Robinho's run of form has continued.... 2 goals in the last 2 matches. Schuster: If you wanna give Robben minutes to work him back to regain match fitness: pls. don't do it at the expense of Robinho while the game's still on the line.
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8.) I've finally seen Pepe play... and he hasn't been bad at all. Does this mean that RM will need to pay 30m Euros everytime they need a decent defender? (Ramos was around that price too).
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We're Playing Racing Santander tonight. Hope we don't shoot our foot again coz Villareal's now just a point away, and Barca 2. How do we beat them? For Sneijder to get over his 'I'm shy and I'm having trouble coping with the pressure of being an RM player' mode. Make an assist, score a bloody goal. Act like a man. Win us a match!
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We're all hoping...