Ultimately, Gareth Bale’s arrival came at quite the tactical cost to Real Madrid. After all, it is not possible to have good news all the time in the world of football. The signing of the Spurs player helped make up the mind of Mesut Ozil, that he was surplus to requirements at the club, despite being one of the most important performers in recent seasons.
Having both footballers in the squad would have left Carlo Ancelotti with some formidable attacking options to chose from over a long, tough campaign. However, losing a stalwart like Ozil to be replaced by an expensive gamble such as Bale might end up working against the capital city club.
In a three-year spell at Real Madrid, the German playmaker had eventually developed near telepathic playing relationships with his teammates. The reason why Ozil was the top assist-maker not only in La Liga but across Europe was a deep understanding of where his attacking colleagues were and would be in and around the box.
Bale’s very late arrival in the Spanish capital sees the side’s forward line having to adapt to a brand new player and vice-versa. The Welshman did not even have a preseason at Real Madrid to work on tactics and phases of play. Instead, Ancelotti is being forced to integrate the former Spurs superstar into his strategic plan with the campaign already underway. That could be a dangerous proposition in a two-team tussle where any points dropped may lead to the loss of the title race.
Too many chiefs
Gareth Bale will have a natural instinct to start repaying his transfer free as swiftly as possible. This could see a repeat of the early days of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, when the Portuguese powerhouse was trying to win games on his own by taking potshots from 60 yards. There is only room in the team for one flying forward who delights in trying to waltz around every member of the opposition team.
What made Ozil so important to Real Madrid was the German’s complete lack of ego. The playmaker was constantly looking for teammates in better scoring positions than himself. It was a tendency that saw Ozil finding the back of the net considerably less than he might have at Real Madrid, but also meant that the praise from his former teammates when leaving the club was glowing indeed.
Working in small spaces
Ancelotti’s version of Real Madrid looks like being considerably more compact that the swashbuckling, counter-attacking version of last year under Jose Mourinho. Under the stewardship of the Portuguese coach, the tactic was to draw the opposition in and smash them on the break using the pace of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria.
Bale is another footballer who loves to have a good run at opposition defenders from distance, a skill that is not so much in demand this season. The area where Ozil was most adept was playing in games where space was much more limited and speed of mind and feet were more important than pace over 50 yards.
The match against Villarreal on Saturday night, already sees how Ozil is being missed by Ancelotti. The sale of one playmaker is fine, but two is more than a little risky. This is what happened with the departure of both the German and Kaka, who returned to AC Milan. Isco is currently injured, which leaves Madrid having to do quite the reshuffle to cover the position left by a footballer who is set to be playing over in England instead of el Madrigal this weekend.
The departure of Ozil was not a popular one by any means within the first-team squad at Madrid. The footballers were surprisingly forthright in their opinions on the move. “I thought it was a joke,” recalled Alvaro Arbeloa to reporters (via ESPN) when his teammate told him he would be leaving. “If I were to decide what was happening at Madrid he would be one of the last who would be going,” said Sergio Ramos speaking at a Spain press conference reported by the Daily Mirror.
Although, Ozil’s decision to leave was ultimately his alone, the German was clearly feeling unwanted and undervalued at the club with both Isco and Bale arriving over the summer. That sensation of malcontent might well be shared by some teammates left behind at the Bernabeu.