Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009-12-05: Real Madrid 4 - Almeria 2




Some additional post-Almeria Thoughts as posted on La Liga Weekly...
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On Pellegrini's Tactics
People have been talking about his 4-4-2 diamond with Xabi at the bottom, Van Der Vaart at the tip, Granero on the right and Marcelo at the left. It was indeed wished for by many Madridistas and was highlighted by Corey from the Offside as part of his wishlist in one of the podcasts for weaker teams (Almeria, 5 points from the relegation zone, fits the bill) that park the bus in the Bernabeu.
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I wish to point out a 'twist' to Pellegrini's tactics beyond the use of the diamond for this match: Pellegrini was actually switching from a 4-4-2 diamond on attack to a 4-2-3-1 on defense and in counter-attacking situations. The 4-2-3-1 (4-5-1) features Xabi Alonso with Granero in the middle, while Higuain tucks to the right side and Marcelo to the left. Cristiano switches with Higuain constantly within this set up. This to me seems to be a demonstration of Pellegrini's tactical sophistication, as the switching systems allow the team to respond to specific circumstances within the match and at the same time allows him to take advantage of the versaility of his players which consequently keep his opponents guessing.
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What is left for Pellegrini now is to resolve this clearly pressing matter on how and why the intensity and concentration level of the team clearly drops once we gain the lead. To be able to win games via 'remontada' is something that Real Madrid should never expect when facing top level teams. This is a mental issue that I've talked about before (Killer Instinct, or the lack of it) and it is clearly haunting the team.
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Cristiano Ronaldo's Antics
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Ronaldo is a passionate player. Sure. I can live with that. We all know that. But to bash the critics of his behavior last Saturday is out of line.
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I could live with him expressing his frustration at missing the penalty, to behave however in a way completely disregarded the fact that his team had just taken the lead is too much. Not so much as a pat on Benzema...
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Next, he takes his shirt off at scoring to make it 4-2 in a match under control via a TAP IN. This is nothing even close to Pipita scoring to make it 4-3 against Espanyol in extra time that kept us in contention for the title. He reacted like he just scored a 50-yard screamer in the WC final to win it. When he took his shirt off, I just went 'now that's just silly...' Now, I'm not crucifying him for it... but really thought it was silly... even stupid.
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Then, here.'s the cherry on the sundae: he has a mini-brain explosion (albeit not in Pepe's league) and kicks out at being fouled under the following circumstances:
1.) with the match won already given the time and the scoreline
2.) having already been yellow carded
3.) in his first 90 minute game back from injury
4.) in a match prior to a trip to the Mestalla against a legitimately good team
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Why can't he just go up to the guy's face and say 'what the f%ck is your problem!?!?' just as most players react to such fouls? or 'Ey ref! did you see what this f#cker just did!?!?'
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He lost the plot. Simple as that. It was behaviour that REALLY should have prompted an apology to his teammates. I refuse to give him credit for doing something that is the bare minimum for him to do after what he just did.
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His behavior has put himself in jeopardy and has put the team in jeopardy.
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He deserves the criticism and he should live with it. We as Madridistas must support him but also know how to be critical if our players behave in a manner unbecoming of the badge. And his behavior last Saturday was just that.
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The 'Raul Issue'
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I totally deplore how the Madrid-based sports dailies in Spain have been talking up the issue of Raul missing out on minutes for the first time in a long time, blah, blah.... El Kapitan is no longer the player he used to be. This is a fact that is plain to see... what is the big deal about benching him? Why does thist insignificant matter that deserves absolutely no attention at the forefront of Real Madrid discourse. It's absolutely pathetic and ridiculous.
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And beyond ridiculous, it puts an some sort of burden (direct or indirect) on Manuel Pellegrini to constantly re-assess (read: second-guess) his decisions which hav ethus far demonstrated very commendable progress in foresight, innovation and sophistication. We so don't need this.

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