La Liga: Are Real Madrid Champions Yet?
It’s been a very long time since I’ve decided to sit down and write about Real Madrid. The reason for this is quite simple; the team has been so dull I didn’t find anything worth writing about. Things changed this weekend and as a result here I am again.
With their win over the weekend, against a tough Racing Santander, Real Madrid has basically won the title in Spain. Mathematically, the league has not been decided. However, with a 10 point lead and only 15 points left to play for, Madrid’s chances of winning the title are very good. To add to that bit of good news, Madrid played well against a tough opponent. The victory was not stylish or flashy by any means, but the team looked organized and tight with crisp passing and a majority of possession. The defense was also top notch.
In my opinion, this is the kind of football to expect from a Bernd Schuster team. Keep in mind that he was hired to bring attractive football to the team, despite the fact that Shuster’s previous team Getafe held the best defensive record in La Liga last year. I think the team will certainly be more attractive than Capello’s team but nowhere near the type of free flowing game that Madridistas were promised.
I realize that there are many who have criticized Madrid for being lucky or boring and generally not playing like a champion. While there is some merit to these statements, I think many (myself included sometimes) have become too immersed in a narrow view of the team, instead of looking at the big picture.
This is a new project for the team. Let’s not forget that they just finished the Galactico era last year. This is a new era, one with new faces and new ideas as to where the team is going. The fact that they won the league last year and are poised to win it again is actually very impressive. The team currently has a nice balance of youth and veterans and with probably one or two more additions can become a major European threat.
Speaking of the squad, Phil Ball, who is the Spain correspondent for Soccernet, wrote a very interesting piece in which he discussed one of the more talked about players for Real Madrid, Mahamadou Diarra. Ever since his return from the African Nations Cup, Diarra has found it difficult to find consistent playing time and has been very highly criticized by fans for what they perceive to be a lack of quality. Phil Ball makes the argument that Diarra does everything he’s supposed to right. Ball argues that it can’t be a coincidence that Diarra is about to win his sixth consecutive league title. This Diarra situation could cause a headache for Schuster during the summer as he will have Gago, Diarra and Ruben De La Red all for the same position. Obviously someone will have to move and I would actually move Diarra. The reason for this is that De La Red and Diarra will give the team the highest financial return, but De La Red is only 22 whereas Diarra is 27.
Another player of note, though he is noteworthy for his absence, was Guti. While the team passed the ball well and controlled the game, they didn’t really create too many dangerous opportunities. This is Guti’s role and it’s clear that when he is missing, a spark is absent in the Madrid attack.
I think the team really needs to have a more consistent creative midfielder who can share the role with Guti. I would prefer to see Guti come off the bench and Madrid go out and sign a top creative midfielder. As the summer transfers heat up I’m sure there will be many disussions about players to sign and not sign, but of the names I’ve heard so far I think Diego from Werder Bremen would be best. He is a great creative mid who also has the added bonus of being great friends with Robinho. They’ve already both said they would love to play together and I think their linkup could be exactly what’s missing in the Madrid attack.
If nothing else the performance over the weekend rekindled my desire to discuss the team. Let’s hope the team inspires more discussions from here to season’s end.
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