Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Lieu Of

Reality Check for Fernando Gago: You are NOT Redondo's heir. Perhaps you're even lucky to have that badge on your training kit.
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Now that the dust has settled after the El Clasico, it is time to move forward.
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Moving forward, however will prove to be a bit more complicated given 2 fresh names are to be added on to the current list of players who are not able to play against Almeria this weekend. Lassana Diarra will be suspended for his double-yellow card performance while Kaka will likely be out due to what seems to be a gron injury that may keep him off the pitch for even the Marseille game. These 2 names will be futher added on to the list of our current list of players who are not able to play as they are suffering from the following injuries:
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1.) Ruud Van Nistelrooy - Old Age
2.) Christoph Metzelder - Mechanical Problems
3.) Guti - Bitch Fits
4.) Gago - Reality Check about his talent
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As such, the openings are there within the starting lineup for Manuel Pellegrini to give opportunities to some of the players who have not been able to get enough chances to play. Even Cristiano Ronaldo will likely not be given 90 minutes of pitch time on Saturday... The said openings however are more for the midfield. The attack will likely continue to be comprised of the flying Pipita and the driving (to the tree) Benzema: whom I genuinely hope gets more chances to build up what seems to be a very shaky confidence level.
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Despite this however, there is always the frightening possibility that Raul is sent in to further dicombobulate the lineup with the 2 strikers mentioned above + CR96 already on the pitch. The replacement of Lass Diarra seems to be down to a choice between midfield strongman Diarra v1.0 or the more creative Esteban Granero. Raul aside, the main alternatives to fill in for Kaka would also be Granero or Rafael Van Der Vaart, whom after am offseason that saw him as likely the first man out... has managed to not only survive the axe but also to creep into the role of '12th man'... a role which Granero lost miserably after 'Alcorconazo'... Kidding aside, Guti and Gago are also likely possible alternatives for some of these openings in the starting lineup.
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Let Pirata Play: I Know he was part of 'Alcorconzo', but Come On... We all know he can contribute. (photo from AP's Paul White)
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As I've stated in the podcast, we can all likely expect Almeria to park the proverbial bus in front of the goal, as such, going for a single 'pivot' or rather, having someone less defensive to Lass Diarra might be a suitable choice... to which my vote goes to Esteban Granero. He was not much talked about during the Racing Santander match (I think), but I thought that he did a decent job: spreading the ball around, providing a midfield position and allowing play to progress properly. We did find him getting carried away every now and then once the temptation to bomb forward came. I do think that facing up against a team who intends to defend in numbers will require someone who can help facilitate the offiense, hold a good midfield position to attack as well as offer the possibility to take a shot from long range every now and then.
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Gago has come crying in the press, asking to be allowed to leave or something to that effect. Marca is saying that it's too late to get back to that time last summer where Everton were offering 15m Euros for him. Why we chose not to sell him is beyond me... perhaps we were all still hoping that we was Fernando Redondo's heir. The hairstyle, '5' jersey for club and country failed to mask however the fact that he can neither be a commanding ball winner in the midfield nor be a telepathic ball interceptor... nevermind that his passes are mostly inaccurate and nevermind his 'recieve the ball-then-tap-tap-tap-it-until-all-22-players-on-the-pitch-plus-the-corwd-know-what-you're-going-to-do-next' routine. Let's please find a good deal to offload him: then give the '5' jersey to Lass and the '10' to Pipita.
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With a REAL position behind the strikers available: perhaps now is a good time to REALLY find out if Rafa Van Der Faart, err.... Vaart is good enough for the white shirt. (Photo from AP's Paul White)
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As for Kaka's substitute... my vote (surprise, surprise!) goes to Rafael Van Der Vaart. Bit by bit we have seen the trust that Manuel Pellegrini has in him develop.... and in doing so, we have seen him move under the radar to become the '12th man' of the team. Perhaps, it's in times like this where we can truly, truly find out if he's good enough for Real Madrid. Let's play him in that role behind the strikers he's supposedly so good at (where he never got the chance to prove himself during the tenure of Schuster or Juande). If he is indeed the poor man's Kaka, it'd be good to have him as the literal substitute to the Brazilian. Sinister thought: with enough appearances like this, perhaps we can make the WC roster of Holland and earn himself some brownie points in terms of value in the transfer market.
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Something to watch out for in tomorrow's game: I really hope not to see the drastic drop in intensity level from our team if we do get that first goal. Let's play some great football, let's dazzle the Bernabeu, let us please score a boatload of goals on 60% possession. Let's get the act together.

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