Saturday, November 28, 2009

Killer Instinct

To my few readers: this blog entry also appears on Kevin Walker's La Liga Weekly (with whom I've been doing the Real Madrid talk podcast along with Ole Ole's Adam Bader and The Offiside's Corey Fiske) where I've agreed to drop in a thought or 2 every so often...
El Pipita: Perhaps the only player in white these past few games who has shown a genuine thirst for the opponent's blood.
2 1-0 wins.
Both by Gonzalo ‘Pipita’ Higuain.
Both in the first half.
Both concluding a period of utter Real Madrid domination and control of the game.
Both leading to a game that eventually bored the living hell out of the Bernabeu.
More ammunition for Marca and AS to call for Pellegrini’s head.
More worries for the team as it faces this Barca team that had managed to bitchslap themselves awake once again (if we were to judge them on their performance against Mourinho’s Inter) just in time for our big encounter with them.
On the eve of this season’s first El Clasico, I wish to highlight the one thing that has been missing in Real Madrid’s game as evidenced by the past several matches: Killer Instinct. Real Madrid need to develop the killer instinct that all great teams need in order to become more than FIFA ’10 video game team. It seems clear to me that Real Madrid begin to doze off into a gentle slumber after scoring that first goal, happy to control the game, keep hold of the ball and let the 90 minutes go by. This however is not Real Madrid… at least not what Real Madrid is supposed to be. This is not the Real Madrid who will go for the 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, 6-0 ruthlessly till the referee blows his whistle in front of their 80,000 fans crying for the blood of their opponents on the pitch. When did we ever get so ‘professional’? When did we all of a sudden become ‘Oh, we won, so we’re all ok.’???
As I look back, I am no t just speaking about the games against Racing Santander and Zurich… I look back also to the games against Milan and perhaps further back: the team shows its class early on with an impressive display of controlling the game, and scoring the all-important opener in each of these games… which would ultimately lead to very discernable drop in level in terms of the performance from the players and the entire team as a whole. Is this an issue of attitude? Motivation? Tactics even?
We had suffered defeat at home and missed the golden opportunity to rid ourselves of the ‘curse of the San Siro’ against a Milan team that is only slowly regaining its old status as an elite side (after the dreadful start of the season) for this reason. On this basis, I would like to in fact argue then that our only loss as a result of lack of quality from our overall play was against Sevilla. This need for that Killer Instinct may or may not be an easy thing to address for the coaching staff but I imagine that this will be an issue that will haunt us perpetually as the season progresses.
I am hopeful however that the return of Cristiano Ronaldo would help with this… as he is to a fault, a player who craves for that 3rd, 4th, 5th goal. We keep our fingers crossed on his fitness though.

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