Friday, September 16, 2011

Rich (Expensive) but Ugly and Not Great…


There was Benze-cat, and now there's Cris Charming. Yuck.

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“He’s NOT handsome!” was my wife’s instant reply when I read Cristiano’s post-game comments to her. I can only suppose that this is what happens when you read out comments that epitomize the arrogance of an ex-Manchester United Player to a Liverpool fan.
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"It's surely because I'm good-looking, rich and a great footballer. They're jealous of me. I don't have any other explanation," he said after the game, in quotes published by Marca.
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Last Wednesday, Real Madrid was the opposite of Cristiano’s self-description: Rich (or rather, expensive), Ugly and Not Great.
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Putting things into perspective, the game per se, and the outcome, wasn’t that bad. We always knew that this trip to Croatia was going to be a tricky one. Dinamo was a physical and solid tough nut of a team to crack. They also had a giant (who had a monster game) in goal. Considering the fact that Champions League day 1 was largely a letdown for the favorites (The 2 Manchester Clubs and Barca dropped points while Inter lost), one can say that perhaps say that Real Madrid managing to eek out a win isn’t a bad outcome at all.
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And this is why Ronaldo’s explosion of arrogance is just disgusting: because it robs us of the merits of last Wednesday Night’s outcome.
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Tactics
Tactically, I thought we were ok. Fabio Coentrao started again and played a much more restrained game: his energy and active-ness was instead used to give Real Madrid a much stronger presence at midfield. It was much-needed too: with Dinamo’s Robust midfield game largely backed up by the appropriately named JERK-o Leko patrolling their midfield, trying to pull off a Mark Van Bommel performance.
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Coentrao did, however interchange positions with Marcelo frequently – drifting to the left wing, while the Brazilian put in shifts at the Center of Midfield (where he took the opportunity of feeding Di Maria to score). For Coentrao, playing in Marcelo-mode however, he will need to develop his understanding of overlapping with Ronaldo when Mr. Prince Charming is attacking on the left. Without Marcelo’s overlapping runs, Ronaldo was constantly left having to face 2 or 3 defenders rather than just the 1 or 2 when Marcelo overlaps to drag at least one defender away.

The big problem however was as Bassam of RMFB had pointed out: our front 4 didn’t do enough to press the opposing defense. I can distinctly recall that all our periods of dominance in the game were when our front 4 did this. And this is there we get to…
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Player Performances
Like Bassam, I was stunned by how much vitriol is being spewed towards Higuain who only played 10 minutes in the game. I also feel that Carvalho and Di Maria’s poor performances in the Getafe game has tainted the opinions of many Madridistas about their performance last Wednesday. They weren’t great but they certainly didn’t have bad games. In my opinion, the most off-color performance last Wednesday was from my current favorite Real Madrid player: Mesut Ozil. And in case Andres is reading this: No, I have not yet purchased his jersey and jinxed him :P. Maybe it’s because Ozil is now being singled out by opposing defenses as a man-to-watch for Real Madrid or maybe it was just one of those nights.
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After all, a player who usually supplies the final ball that leads to a goal tends to go through these ‘phases’ (Ronaldo and Benzema, the team’s 2 primarly goal threats are the chief benefactors from this). Sometimes it’s due to opposing teams designing their entire defensive scheme to stop such a player, sometimes it’s just one of those days when things aren’t clicking and those passes aren’t quite as inch-perfect on the night… or sometimes it’s just that slight (but almost fatal) dip in concentration for the night. I can only suppose that this is the next step for Ozil: taking his performances and his ability to influence a game to a consistent level. At his age, this is a crossroads period for him: to learn to assert himself and potentially reach ‘legend-level’ ala Zidane, or ‘could’ve-been-legend-level’ ala Guti. To end up in between isn’t so bad, but then again, it’s hard not to be one or the other if you have such talents.
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In this sense, Bassam was also right in his questioning of why Granero wasn’t sent into the game. Granero would have been a great possible ‘cure’ to an off color performance from Ozil. With no Kaka on the bench to stabilize control of the game when in possession, Granero could have lubricated the team’s creaky passing gears last Wednesday.
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Finally, there is once again, the issue of finishing. A stat came out recently: Real Madrid had a mind-numbing  65 shot attempts in their first 2 La Liga games. 10 goals in 65 shots = 15.38% - worse than a bad baseball batting average!
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This weekend, we’re off to play Levante. We wiped the floor with them in the Copa Del Rey last season, but also dropped points there in La Liga. With a 2 point lead over Barca, it’s now time for the team to get their shooting boots on and re-introduce Levante to the floor.
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3 comments:

  1. Hi Mac... Makoluchi here. I managed to watch only de 2nd half of de game coz of work. However, ur points are okay. We did not have a good outing, period. But one think that I do know is that we will improve.

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  2. I like the fact you give the other team some credit here. As for Ozil, I'd say it was a combination of the opponent's defensive scheme and a dip in form/concentration. On one hand, when defending, Zagreb often had two lines of players playing close together high up the field, taking away the space between the lines that Ozil usually exploits to such good effect. (This may explain why so many long balls over the top were attempted.) On the other, his passes, especially in the final third, definitely lacked their usual precision.

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  3. Hi, i have a blog about football statistics with a soft perspective ant-Barça. Mayority of articles have english version by Google.
    I´d wish you visite me and, if you like, interchange blogroll

    http://futbolisticametrica.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete