Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2-22-20

Xabi Alonso - When He Turns it On, We Turn it On
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2 Madrid derbies, 2 victories. Last night, we took our derby success over Atletico to 12 years. It seems that '2' was last night's magic number as Xabi Alonso (22), Alvaro Arbeloa (2) and Gonzalo Higuain (20) all found their names on the scoresheet as we romped towards victory: maintaining our pressure on Barca and our La Liga winning streak as well as our home winning streak.
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And let's be honest about it, ever since Xabi Alonso stuck his foot towards the ball, half-sliding in to score our first goal from the far post off a corner (where he scored a similar goal against Sporting), we all knew that Atletico were going to go home losers. Perhaps Guillem Balague was right in his match preview where he called Atletico as a team on its last legs and were lucky not to get murdered at the Bernabeu. Xabi Alonso was once again they key to the match and it was his increased level of play that resulted in us turning the screws on Atleti. For the second goal, he twisted, turned, feigned and then, with his body oddly contorted awkwardly, unleashed a wonder looping pass to the streaking Arbeloa who had forgotten for a moment that he was a fullback: scoring his goal as if he was a striker. It was like Liverpool in white. And just so I'm able to put it out there: Xabi Alonso was my Real Madrid Man of the Match... Alvaro Arbeloa coming in second.
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That's 2 Straight Well-played Games from Gago. Are we in the twilight zone?
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One notable discovery we'll also need to call out it this blog is the miraculous 2-game streak put in by Lady Gago who played well in these 2 Madrid derbies. Sitting deeper than Xabi Alonso, he split ball-winning and distribution duties with the '22' and facilitated ball movement quite well. With Gago in this position, Xabi Alonso found himself in a position he'd normally find himself in for La Furia Roja, anble to funnel the ball from a far more advabced position to create danger against the opposing team: a midfield variant we would do well to carry into El Classico.
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Is this yet again the 'resurrection from the dead' of a player supposedly beyond redemption at the hands of Manuel Pellegrini? If this turns out to be so, Lady Gago becoming 'Mister Gago' (as AS has so eloquently calling it), Van Der Fart returning to become Van Der Vaart, along with Puti becoming Guti again are explicit signs of the Chilean's man management skills: something I'm happy to call out and lament that the losers at Marca seem to be oblivious to.
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Signs of life from Gago bring hope to a Madrid team that will be missing Xabi Alonso's skills next week against Racing Santander... After all, it is only he who has the capacity to replicate (to a certain extent at least) the deep lying ball distribution capabilities of the Basque midfielder given that both Diarras have limited vision and passing range. Guti on the other hand won't survive 90 (decent) minutes on the pitch much less in a deep-lying position where he is expected to offer protection to the defense. Nevermind Granero who seems to be choking despite the golden opprtunity he is being handed these past several weeks as a starter.
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Meanwhile on attack, I am in shock that after their brutal attack on Pipita for not passing to Ronaldo in the Lyon game, that they seem to have been only observing the grass on the Bernabeu's pitch as Castrol Boy exposed himself as the world's biggest ball hog. Note to Castrol Boy: the best player in the world is he who wins BOTH through his sheer individual brilliance and his ability to make his team better. In the mean time, Gonzalo Higuain continues to chip away at Leo Messi's Pichichi lead...
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A word of warning to the team though: the disturbing habit which we have developed in the last 3 games (Sporting, Getafe and Atleti) of conceding cheap (opening) goals may haunt us in our coming matches. This will be particularly magnified against the likes of Barca and Valencia who have the talent not to forgive such stupidities. While I'm happy to praise Pellegrini for certain attributes of his team, it is this current characteristic of the team that I find myself raising my eyebrow on. The coach to his credit however has been calling his team out on such performances and we're all hoping they get the message very, very quickly as the Blaugrana approach in the coming weeks.
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In the meantime, we await the coming week's latest edition of 'The Apprentice: Real Madrid' as we pay a visit to Racing Santander's sardine can ('El Sardinero') to conduct 'live tryouts' for boy wonder Sergio Canales. Let's hope he does well... But not too well.

4 comments:

  1. Thats a really interesting way of looking at it. A lot of 2s in our victory.

    Agree about Gago and I have clearly noticed his performances in these two games. I thought he was better than Xabi in the first half.

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  2. Gago became a footballer again, put on a good performance, but I still think he ain't got it to play for Madrid. But if he can keep on putting decent performances, it'll raise his selling price for this summer.

    I'm annoyed too at this habit of not putting effort on the game until we're down by one. We'll regret it.

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  3. @Dai - Regarding the effort thing, I don't think its something we do by choice. But ofcourse we still have to work on it and fast.

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  4. I think that conceding those early goals are a sign of a lack of focus/concentration in starting the matches: a disturbing sign if you ask me... lower level teams may allow us to gt away with it, but against a Barca, that won't do.

    I hate to sound like a Nike commercial, but our motto should be 90++... it was the reason for every game in which we faltered this season.

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