The Ramos Revolution is officially coming to halt.
What could have been a surefire killing for Real Madrid, a chance to catch up to Primera Liga kingpins Barçelona, ended up a dull 90-minutes which saw a seriously flawed Madrid midfield provide Almería with more chances on goal than I'm willing to admit. Though Real were dominant throughout the match, they were never in control.
While I have a thing or two to say about the wholly incompetent ref, my general disdain for the match lies in the sheer mess Juande Ramos brought to the pitch. With some of its key players waylaid—Guti was barred from the match due to disciplinary issues—and others benched without any clear reason, one wonders exactly what Ramos was trying to achieve with his lineup.
Pepe was played, despite clearly still suffering from a wrist injury, Gago was withheld from the pitch for most of the match, and Higuain remained on the bench!
Performances on the pitch varied. Sergio Ramos wasn't given the opportunity to dominate the right flank of the field as Robben didn't provide him with any support—as a result, Ramos constantly faced two opponents and Almería took advantage of this to freely attack Iker Casillas from the right. Speaking of Casillas, the goalkeeper proved his worth and natural skill with a number of spectacular saves.
Lass, Marcelo and Huntelaar clearly need to be recognized for their non-stop effort. Marcelo's goal was one of sheer beauty, and Huntelaar is clearly finding his feet as one of Real's strongest elements.
Man of the Match: Marcelo, who needs more recognition for his skill!
On another note, it isn't just this match that makes me question Ramos' choices. Heinze, one of Real's weakest links in my opinion, is played far too frequently in favor of the likes of Miguel Torres—an incredibly promising young player who needs far more chances to expand his experience on the pitch.
Metzelder was finally given a chance last night and proved his worth, yet another example of a player given very little time on the pitch and chance for recognition.
At the end of the day, there is something very wrong with Real Madrid at the moment. Ramos needs to realize that he has a wide variety of players and talent available to the game, players he never takes advantage of. The difference between Real and Barçelona isn't a lack of talent or skill—it's visible cracks in management and coaching that is leading to a lack of cohesion between players.
Wake up, Juande!