Thursday, October 9, 2008

Would We Rather Have It This Way?

So here we are... first draw of the season and dropping down even further in the table to be tied with Barca on points and further away from Villareal and Valencia who have been putting on great performances thus far. I know it's early on in the season but these types of situation are making me really antsy: we are adrift by quite a few places from top spot in what is shaping up to be a competitive La Liga season: Villareal is great as ever, Valencia have found themselves again and Sevilla seems to have recovered from the loss of Juande Ramos and their summer player departures. Then let's not forget Athletico Madrid who are being carried by the super-scoring strikeforce of Aguero and Forlan... plus of course Barca, who, after a sputtering start under Pep Guardiola are playing great football and winning convincingly again. If we don't figure our issues out... we'll be in trouble.
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I actually thought we weren't so bad. Even in the first half where we conceded the 2 goals. We were able to move forward and create some chances which were fluffed (typical Higuain miss- making all of us go 'uh-oh'). But we moved forward quite well.
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We were even better in the 2nd half as we laid siege to their goal in the second half but were left with only a point. Would we really rather have it this way? I ask this question more than a week after our game against Zenit where we lived a situation with the tables turned against us: 2nd half with the opponent laying siege on our goal. 3 points with all that suffering? or 1 point despite the effort?
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I totally get where the guys who had made comments in my previous post are coming from: we all want to see Madrid destroy teams utterly, with our guys who are not only the best players on the planet, but also the sexiest, most popular and even most stylish. We don't' have those players now though: CRon is still with ManU, Kaka is still with AC Milan, Messi will be Barca for life (likely) and Aguero is not in the white half of Madrid... so what gives (we can discuss our transfer failings some other time)? Instead, we have a darn good team with great unity and fighting spirit: something I would happily take and accept. I'm happy to accept our team that fights and suffers for 3 points. Hopefully, we can get bet back to those winning ways at the Calderon on the 19th.
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Raul
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Raul is starting an odd trend: he seems to play well at the Bernabeu but is quite shitty when on the road. Somehow I think this works out for Schuster since the pressure to play El Kapitan comes mostly from the partisan Madrid crowd who wants to see the local hero on the pitch. If the local hero is on the pitch when the brown expects him to... and he scores goals then all is fine and dandy then! On the road, however, Schuster may choose a more effective but less luxurious or sentiment-driven lineup with Higuain and Robben supporting Van Gol with their pace on the counter attack. I know and fully admit that I have been one of those who have called for Raul's benching in favor of Higuain... but as a Madridista, I will always be happy to the the Captain score and bail us out (term of the year: Bail Out).
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Heinze
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Heinze is really irritating the crap out of me. since the start of the season, I've been pondering the idea of buying myself a Real Madrid '08-'09 Jersey. I haven't done it yet because I can't figure out whose number I'd like to have on the back of it. So I came up with a list: which was a pointless exercise since the list was too long (LOL) . But the name that was easily not on the list was Heinze's. It's strange: I used to love the guy... 'the gringo' I loved his graft, his no nonsense attitude, his toughness and his unapologetic blue-collar nature. But after a year in La Liga, he's picked up all the bad habits of the Spanish League already! (e.g. flailing his arms, twisting and turning on the ground and seemingly wincing in pain at the slightest contact from an opponent). What's more is that he has really been the weak point in our defense. The bad tackle to conceded the penalty vs. Espanyol was his and the 2nd goal conceded was his fault too. He was also culpable for one of the Zenit goals (attempting a stupid diving header when a clearance with his foot would've easily sufficed!). Maybe Schuster was onto something when he kept giving Marcelo a run out...
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Robben / Winger Problem
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Robben got hurt vs. Espanyol which now has all Madridistas wondering in fear how we'll ever be able to create enough space in the midfield without our winger who could spread the field open. The answer is most definitely not Drenthe. In his 2nd season at RM already, I have really yet to see more than just tiny glimpses of real quality from him. Higuain is perhaps our best option in that regard... or we can opt to put in a more defensive midfield (who can drop back) and use our fullbacks (Marcelo & Ramos) to provide width. Another idea that came to mind (as the suggestion of Guillem Balague's went) was to include VDV as part of the front three in Schuster's new favored 4-3-3 instead of as part of the midfield: given that VDV isn't really the match-pace controlling type of midfielder (e.g. Diarra, De la Red, Gago) and is really more of a scorer rather than a ball distributor in the mold of Sneijder or a playmaker like Guti. Latest medical update however revealed that Robben might be ok for the Madrid derby... but the thought must still be taken into consideration in lieu of Robben being 'the glass man.'
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Sneijder & the Midfield Options
It was GREAT to see Sneijder back... wearing his new #10 jersey (his #10 is the front-running consideration for me for my '08-'09 RM Jersey)! he only played a few minutes and is still clearly not yet match fit: I am just totally hoping that the coming international games can break him into shape just in time for the Madrid derby. The same can be hoped for Gago for when he returns to the Argentina squad for their WC Qualifiers.
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My skepticism however lies with what looks like Guti winning his place back his place for the Madrid derby: what is he's not match fit - which is a real possibility. I'm totally not happy with AS talking so much about De La Red's errors in the Espanyol game that was dissected like no one's business. Somehow, I feel like De La Red might be the better choice for the match since it wold be a great chance to grab Athletico's supposedly weak midfield by the balls to prevent them from linking up with Aguero up front.
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Our new found glut in midfield somehow really puts the option described by Balague as a real possibility: to move VDV as among the front 3.
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Lastly, I'm really happy to see the piece on AS the other day on Diarra where they had openly expressed that he has been RM's best player this season so far. I'm really happy for the team and for him: He has been imperious thus far and it's great to see the 'water carriers' being given the credit they really deserve!

2 comments:

  1. Finally, someone else also agrees that VDV should be part of the strike force rather than the midfield. His best position is behind the striker and in front of the midfield. But he can play in that position only when the teams plays 4-2-3-1 not in 4-3-3.

    Everyone is flogging Heinze for the two goals, I agree he isn't innocent but I would blame it on Diarra and De la Red, esp the latter who is bad in tracking back. Have you noticed how we're always vulnerable against counter attacks? Both Diarra and De la Red aren't particularly pacy.

    One of the weakest areas for us is the lack of width. I fear Ramos and Marcelo will be the most overworked players. In most of the games they end up providing the width. And Robben does when he plays which is rare.

    I really hope Sneijder can recapture the end of last season form. He was settling in really well.

    Here's to 3 points tomorrow!

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  2. Hi Los Blancos! Thanks for the comment. I really do believe that it was Heinze who was at fault in the goals conceded as I mentioned since they were conceded during times wherein it was really his task to mark the man who scored... and he failed to.

    You are right that De La Red should track back more but I don't think Diarra is really at fault(as a matter of fact, I agree with the perception that he's been really awesome these past few games).

    With regards to the lack of width, it is really just Ramos and Marcelo providing the width nowadays (aside from Robben since that's how it nreally works in a 4-3-3 when the 2 front men aside from the Center Forward aren't really wide men (e.g. Raul)... this I think is the reason why we might be might be frail at the back since guys who are supposed to be defending (the full backs, e.g. Ramos & Marcelo) are constantly shuttling up front to provide width since there isn't enough of it when we don't have Robben. We really, really need another winger...

    Here's to 3 points for the derby!

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