A celebration atmosphere, a great pitch, good crowed, another win, a better display, so how far has the team improved?
Even though the game was another pre-season friendly, and the occasion was celebrating Real Sociedad's centenary, we still saw the team trying to shift from second to third gear, but have they really improved so far?
If we compare them to the previous match, I would say yes, but I think they still have lots of work to do in the coming weeks before the start of the season.
Anyone who saw last night's match must have noticed that the players are getting familiar with each others, passing well, and the lines of the team are getting closer and organised.
We started with the classic 4-4-2: Torres, Albiol, Garay, and Drenthe made up the defense line; CR9, Alonso, Guti and Kaka the midfield; and in attack were Raul and Benzema.
I wrote in the previous post that I would have liked to see Lass and Alonso teamed up, but I don't think Pellegrini wanted to risk Lass, after all he is coming from injury, so I guess we have to wait for the next match for that.
Drenthe and Torres are just not at the level of being in the first team, not even in the reserves, I know some would say the are good as reserves and Torres is a Canterano, but he is simply not good enough.
Drenthe on the other hand; Pellegrini must see something in him no one else can see; he still can't cross, defend or pass. He can only run and I can say from now that our left side is going to be our Achilles heal.
If anyone should be sold and really won't be missed at all are these two, because we all know that Torres won't get the chance to play unless Ramos and Arbeloa both are out, and even then I think to play a Castilla player would be a better choice.
And Drenthe; well just don't let me get started on him, he simply has got to go. But I don't think it will happen.
What's certain is Van Der Vaart and Negredo are leaving, let's hope they don't sell someone whom they will regret soon (I think Negredo will be sold with a buy back option).
We've still got two weeks to go for acquiring new players, and I think they should search for a quality left-back, and Marcelo should be his reserve, to learn how to defend, and to earn his place in the starting eleven.
Tops and Flops:
Xabi Alonso was simply the best player on the pitch against his home town fans, he received outstanding cheers from everyone, and he played extremely well, if we consider he is with the team only for a month; he passed well, and he even made good runs, and I still think he is more suited in center midfield than defensive midfield.
Kaka was much better than the previous games, he did really well specially in the second period. I still think he will be much better when the season starts, but he is getting there that's for sure.
Robben & Sneijder: They came late, but sparked fast, and made the team more aggressive and more into the attack...Well done Sneijder with the free-kick.
Drenthe & Torres: Well I said what I have to say about them earlier so I will settle with it.
CR9: Still we haven't seen his full potential with us, I think he is playing with 30% of his ability, but I won't judge him so badly after all he is capable of much more and his shot was after all the reason for the first goal.
Guti: Well, he is still Guti, slow, bad passing, bad runs, and extremely bad in counter attacks (surprise, surprise).
Well the conclusion is: We still need more than two weeks to really see the team play like we are expecting them to play. Sadly we don't have that luxury, we need Ramos on the right, Lass to partner Xabi Alonso, and Benzema to be more decisive and more accurate.
One thing deserve mentioning is Granero's ability to play amazing football, regardless he starts the match or come in as a sub. I think he will be the jewel of the team this season (if given the chance to play).
And Robben and Sneijder should not be sold, they are just better than some players who are going to stay nevertheless. And I think Pellegrini knows that.