Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Strikers, Golden Balls and Guinea Pigs…

Cristiano vs. Messi… Again!?!??!
This whole Messi vs. Ronaldo business being propagated by the Madrid Press is pathetic. Didn't Messi put this debate to bed during the last El Clasico?
It looked to me like last week’s El Clasico has so convincingly proven that Lionel Messi’s current level is currently in another planet compared to any other player here on Earth. I remember being asked by my wife the night of the El Clasico over dinner who I considered to be the better player. I remember stuttering, struggling to explain my answer which in the end turned out to be something along the lines of:
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‘They can’t really be compared because they’re not the same… Messi is this good because he’s played within the Barca system all his life. So if things don’t go well, his instinct will be to play within the Barca system whereas Ronaldo is more individualistic. But Ronaldo’s an aerial threat (someone you can know the ball up to) and he’s got that nasty free kick too… blah, blah, blah...’
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Last week, Messi put the whole discussion to bed not by adding to his Real Madrid hitlist total, but by demonstrating yet another dimension to his game that many a Madridista (including this one) failed to give him credit for: his capabilities as a playmaker: to drop deep and mix it up with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets to Tiki-Taka their opponents to death.
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Yet pathetically, yesterday’s AS has re-cranked up the whole Messi-vs.-Ronaldo debate yet again. As if to say ‘Messi might be the better player, but Ronaldo’s the better goalscorer! Heh!’, they gloated over how Ronaldo bites right back at Messi every time the little Argentine threatened his goalscoring record: matching hat trick with a hat trick, a brace with a brace and so on. This has gotten really pathetic… and has also gotten me to question this whole notion of the Madrid press helping the team out. It’s not helping you idiots: you guys are only goading CR7 to reverting back to his go-for-personal-glory-at-all-costs mentality… something we’ve been seeing less and less of because of the work of Mourinho.
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Pipita Opts to not have surgery
Reports indicate that Pipita has decided not to go for surgery and should be back in 4 weeks. With only a handful of games to go this year (a dead rubber vs. Auxerre, away to strugglers Zaragoza, at home to tricky Sevilla and a Copa Del Rey Clash vs. Levante) + Spain’s famous winter break, the timing may actually not be so bad. Sevilla will be the only tricky prospect while using the likes of Auxerre, Zaragoza & Levante as gunea pigs to test the mettle of the likes of Benzema, Morata or even Jesse wouldn’t be very risky. I hope.
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Speaking of risks, there is still some degree of risk from this idea of sitting the injury out to let it heal… as it might turn out be a potential perpetual problem until surgery is employed to sort it out. Looking at the fixture list, I’m now hoping that Pipita and even Kaka can be ready come the weekend of 9 January when Villarreal pay us a visit.
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Dzeko, Milito, Morata?
From all accounts, Dzeko seems to be the Real Deal = but at 40m? I'm pretty sure that you can get significantly less for Fernando Llorente after you bargain down his 36m buyout. Did I mention that he's Spanish too? And proven in La Liga? All you need to do is wait till the summer
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The Real Madrid press, really can’t get their head out of their ass on this one eh? With Pipita out for a month, they’ve cranked up the rumor mill once again. The flavor of the week is of course Wolfsburg’s Serbian Striker Edin Dzeko. Bereft of Champions League football this season while adrift at 13th place in the Bundesliga, the Big ‘9’, who also fits Mourinho’s supposed-type for a striker. While signing him does make sense on some levels, bringing him in would certainly raise plenty of questions re: the current squad:
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-Are we really giving up on Benzema?
-What happens when Pipita’s recovered? We’ll have 50m-worth of striking talent sitting on the bench? (75m if Dzeko leaves for his supposed 40m valuation + Benzema at 35m are sitting)
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As frustrating as Benzema has been this season (and the last), I really do think that he should be given the rest of the season to prove himself to us: injured Pipita or not. And even without Pipita, I do believe that some tinkering of the team shape (Trivote, Rombo, etc.) should offer us enough options especially when the not-exactly-goal-shy Kaka returns. Then of course, there’s also the matter of having Cantera Boys Morata and even Jesse getting a ‘trial run’.
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There are some other even more ridiculous rumors: such as Diego Milito or Hugo Almeida. Both are cup tied, so signing them would be an act of stupidity that can only be matched by Mijatovic. Besides, I’m not really sure that Almeida is Real Madrid material. As for Milito, I actually quite fancied the idea of brining him in during the striker-injury crisis 2 seasons ago when he was still at Genoa. They said at the time that it was impossible. Nevermind that Mourinho managed to bring him to Inter eventually and win the Champions League with his 2 goals. Mijatovic instead chose to buy the supposedly-not cup-tied Huntelaar. We all know how that went down. Uff.
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The Barca’lon D’ Or
The first ever FIFA Balon D’ Or shortlist is out: and lookey-lookey: it’s an all-La Masia affair with Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta out. All three are deserving in my opinion. I’m NOT going to join the outcry of injustice that’s been coming out of a lot of pro-Real Madrid outlets though: expressing outrage at the exclusion of Wesley Sneijder.
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While I do believe that Wesley Sneijder deserves to be in the final 3, having LED Inter to a Coppa Italia, a Scudetto and a Champions League title in one season plus a World Cup final appearance after scoring a tournament-high 5 goals… I do believe that his exclusion, while disappointing and questionable is not cause for outrage or calls of scandal and bias.
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Despite being the best player on the planet, Messi did play below his own standard in the WC, and by virtue of that, my vote doesn’t go to him.
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Could Barca and Spain have won La Liga and the WC without Iniesta? It would have been extremely difficult but not impossible.
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Could Barca and Spain have won La Liga and the WC without Xavi? Impossible. Xavi gets my vote (if it ever counted, hahaha).
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Guti
Gone Guti Gone... Canterano or Not, with this behavior, I'm happy he's gone.

Thank God Guti No longer plays for Real Madrid. Click on this link to read some more. ‘Nuff Said.
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Auxerre Experiment
Football Fans Know Better
I totally wouldn't mind seeing this 'experiment' tomorrow. What the heck, give 'em a shot right?
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As a prelude to tomorrow’s Champions League match vs. Auxerre, UEFA has given us a ‘discount’ from the punishment meted out to us for Jose Mourinho’s yellow card Black Jack antics. The money isn’t so much of a worry given Real Madrid’s deep pockets. I initially worried about the 2nd of Mourinho’s 2 game suspension too. It turns out that it wasn’t something to worry about given that the 2nd one was a suspended sentence (i.e. be a good boy for the next 3 years or we won’t lay this down on you). So by and large, it was a pretty irrelevant ‘discount’.
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Tomorrow, we host Auxerre for a match so meaningless that Jose Mourinho is said to be willing to give Jerzy Dudek his first minutes for the season. I’m hoping to see a lineup that will put to full use our largely untapped team of first team substitutes & reserves: Mateos, Arbeloa, Albiol, Garay, the 2 Diarras, Granero, Pedro Leon, Benzema & even Morata. That already looks like a starting XI!. Should they be chosen to play, they should play not as if they were guinea pigs being tested for competence by Mourinho but that Auxerre are the guinea pigs being tested for competence by this 2nd-string Real Madrid.
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Either way, I’m looking forward to see it.

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