Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vindication

A Relieving Sight: Ronaldo Celebrated his goal WITH Pipita
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Last night, Real Madrid stepped onto the pitch for the first time after Lyonazo - or rather... our catastrophic capitulation at the hands of Olympique Lyonnais. The fact that we were about to face one of the poorest sides in La Liga made no difference: we were a club and a team whose morale had been totally dismembered by our elimination from the Champions League. An elimination that unleashed the fury of sheer insanity, madness and delusions from the pundits and the press alike: the kind that could cause the club to go belly up. Thankfully, the players had other things in mind.
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The spotlight had been cast particularly on a few key people, namely:
- Manuel Pellegrini who has been brutalized unreasonably and unfairly by the Madrid-press
- Kaka, who continues to struggle in getting into the groove of things at Real Madrid. He was out for this match with an injury. I will likely write about him again very soon and will continue to hope as well that he will find some form of vindication on the pitch very soon too.
- Gonzalo Higuain who had been singled out for a lot of unfari criticism for missing his scoring chance against Lyon. He's also been taken to task not just by the public for refusing to pass the ball to football's biggest ball hog.
- Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the said ballhog who is reportedly at loggerheads with Pipita. It is also alleged that he sees Higuain as his direct rival in a race against the Argentine to be La Liga Pichichi. (Dai had posted a most revealing story in his comments on the Lyon article)
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Coming back onto the pitch after such a difficult week, the three responded very well.
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I started out being skeptical of Manuel Pellegrini. Today, I really like the fact that he's our coach. I can only pray that the management can continue feeling that way.
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Manuel Pellegrini
Last Sunday, the Chilean lined up a Starting XI of:
------------ Casillas -----------
Arbeloa-Abliol-Ramos-Marcelo
-- Lass-Xabi Alonso-Granero --
-------- Van Der Vaart --------
------- Ronaldo-Higuain -------
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His selection of this particualr line of defense leads me to hypothesize that he either doesn't fancy Garay (and prefers a quick technically gifted player like Sergio Ramos to play in Pepe's place) or he actually likes Marcelo at left back (something that would deeply change my mind about him). I'd like to believe that it's the former as the slow footed-Garay is also short on aerial ability as well as the ability to play the ball: qualities that Pepe had which enabled us to have a more coherent offensive posture during matches.
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At midfield, the availability of Xabi Alonso and his effect on the team seems to show that the most notable absence in last week's Lyon debacle was the Basque midfielder: as his presence allows Real Madrid to hold onto the ball, keep control of it and launch its attacks from a comfortable position that was far more advanced than how we played last week (where the conservative Garay often had to reset play by sending the ball back to Casillas, resulting in us having go to go through Lyon's 10 outfield players before we could even manage to get to their third of the pitch). I'd actually however like to see him give Diarra V1.0 more chances to play as his namesake Lass and even Esteban Granero have been playing very poorly as of late. His selection of Rafa Van Der Vaart over Guti as Kaka's replacement is a move that I applaud. Because while the Madrid press excitedly salivated over the prospect of Guti taking on the Brazilian's place in the Starting XI, I am of the opinion that the 34-year old is not a 90 minute player. I am also of the opinion that people like Van Der Vaart who has endured such a difficult situation but has put his head down, kept his mouth shut, trained hard and played well in his few chances deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. The exemplary manne by which he has handled his situation wins my admiration and even my apologies (fo dismissing him as a failure last season). Apart from that, the Dutchman also gives us great ball delivery, a bit of pace and extra firepower.
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Nivaldo's Stomp on Ronaldo's shin was as disgusting as the sight of Ronaldo's seemingly shaven legs
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Castrol Boy
Apart from his goal and assist to Higuain (and his involvement in Pipita's third), I would like to call out Castrol Boy for another good thing he did last Sunday: not getting sent off. Last Sunday's match took place hours after my countryman Manny Pacquiao give the cowardly Joshua Clottey a boxing lesson. It seems like the Valladolid players came into the match with the type of violent aggression that Manny did: choosing to kick Real Madrid's players instead of the ball. Castrol Boy in particular, seemed like a prime target for their kicks, tugs, out of control physicality. This included an outrageous stamp on Ronaldo's shin, leaving a ghastly mark on it that is as disgusting to me as my realization that Ronaldo shaves his legs. I have to give it to him though for not getting sent off. Perhaps it was luck that his little kick out in the first half seems to have gone unnoticed to the referee... his reaction of protesting to the referee and his incredulous reaction to the fact that they had not seen the incident was a far smarter one than kicking out or getting himself booked for taking his shirt off.
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I am surprised however that Nivaldo has not been retroactively punished for what he did especailly after replays showed that his stamp on Ronaldo's shin seems to reveal deliberate intent. His 'explanation' to the press that Ronaldo deserved it for being a showpony for doing his stepovers and trickery moves are even more ridiculous (especially given the fact that he's Brazilian!). If every player who shows technical ability 'deserves' to be kicked and stamped like he says, then perhaps we just ought to hire Taekwondo Martial Artists as footballers. I'd be happy to hire one to kick him aorund the pitch just to give him a taste of it! This guy should be suspended and fined. Then they should send him into the Amazon Jungle to go play foottie with Anacondas who'd be happy to let him know what they think of him if he tries any fancy footwork. What a loser.
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Yet another prolific goal-scoring performance for Pipita
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Pipita gets his Hat Trick
After 5 braces this season, Pipita finally got his hat trick. A terrific response to the unfair amount of stick he got from the press and even some of the fans. I nodded my head with a passion upon reading Valdano's words on his performance and the criticism he was receiving:
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"He [Higuain] has made a tremendous reaction, because he is a high class player and character. He has suffered a lot this week because we have done him an injustice. He is accused of being selfish when a striker by definition is greedy. You can not be condemned for one moment after three impeccable years,"
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My sentiments exactly! This is especially given the fact that we are essentially talking Cristiano 'I'd-rather-not-pass-because-I-only-care-about-scoring' Ronaldo here. With regards to missing that open goal in the first half, what can I say... don't all strikers, even the great ones miss chances? Perhaps not as big as the chance that came calling against Lyon, but let's all please remember that he's only 22 years old. 
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In any case, I am one happy Madridista to see him finally get his first hat trick this season... especially on a night where fellow Argentine Lionel Messi scored his own hat trick (I'd have to admit that his hat trick was far more impressive though). His finishes were clinical and had the hallmarks of a top level striker: calm, clean, precise and seemingly simple. And though possibly partly insincere, it was nevertheless good to see he and Ronaldo celebrate goals together: to have 2 of the goals involve Ronaldo. If anything, with the criticism leveled at him, perhaps it might even be possible that this might develop some degree of consciousness within Pipita & Cristiano to be more aware of the other's whereabouts on the pitch... potentially serving as a catalyst for the 2 to develop a kind of on-pitch chemistry.
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Most importantly, the game and the scoreline allowed us to keep our goal difference leadership over Barcelona. With La Liga now left as the only title to play for, and being level on points and ahead of the Barca on points, I would have to say that I agree that it is essential for us to at least start this new 'Florenteam' era with a title. Despite the fact that it is clear that there are many who are keen to throw dynamite to this team, particularly at the manager, I still say that we have started on the right track. It is clear to me that bit by bit, we are finding our feet and developing our game.... I can only hope that it is really true that Florentino has truly learned his lessons from the past. Because if he has... I'm very convinced that not long from now, Vindication will be ours.... for now though, this will have to do.
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By the way.... vote for your Real Madrid player of the Match:
Cristiano Ronaldo - 1 Goal, 1 Assist, Initiated another goal and then some...
Pipita Higuain - The Hat Trick Hero
Xabi Alonso - Showed us how badly we missed him vs. Lyon
Van Der Vaart - Great Deliveries into the box and great all-around play
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Last Week's Survery Results (Real Madrid's MOTM vs. Sevilla)
Cristiano Ronaldo - 18%
Sergio Ramos - 54%
Rafael Van Der Vaart - 36%

2 comments:

  1. I loved (and completely agree with) your comments on Nivaldo and, basically, the whole Valladolid team, including his ignorant coach. These are the kind of teams that I wouldn't miss next year playing in the first division.

    I like Garay, I ain't missed Pepe since he left. Gotta say I also like Ramos at the centerback (way over than on the side, where he's hit or miss), but if that means placing Marcelo on defense... that's a no-no.

    I am very disappointed with Lass. At the beginning of the season, I boldly stated with my friend that he'd be one of the stars of La Liga and that he's better than Makelele ever was. Motherfuckers remind me every week xDD I think he needs some bench. Granero too, he's just not up to par.

    Pellegrini must stay. Raul, Guti and Gago must go.

    Mac, shaved legs make CR9 faster. I bet he shaves his balls too xDD

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  2. -I'm not really that convinced about Garay and I actaully really do miss Pepe.

    -I agree 100% with your comments and sentiments on Sergio Ramos

    -Re: Lass, my theory is that the tactical system and players on the pitch (e.g. Xabi Alonso) affect his play at the moment so like Kaka, I think it might be an issue of getting used to things.

    -Re: Granero, I'm really sad to see his game get more and more worse so I don't think it's like Lass: I think he's suffering from a drop in form and Real Madrid is not a place for that especially for a 'non-galactico'.... even for a Canterano

    -I'll be writing a piece on Pellegrini and Kaka very soon and will post my thoughts on them on that....

    -Re: Guti.... if he's got his head in the right place, I think he'd be a great impact sub. But at 34,I don't think he's a 90 minute man. If the Diva in him acts up: I'll really wanna see him go.

    -I'm REALLY hoping Man City will still pay good money for Gago this summer...

    -Re: Raul - with all due respect for the Captain, I hope he realizes that he's becoming nothing more than a mascot in this team. He plays for 2 mins., breaks some record then gets trumped up in the press. If he has any of that Real Madrid pride left in him, he should play somewhere else or retire.

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