Madridista Corner: What Does the Season Hold For Real Madrid?
Welcome to Madridista Corner, where the Madridistas/analysts of Bleacher Report in this edition they will discuss: Real Madrid's activity in the transfer market, returning Canteranos, how the season will shape out for Real Madrid, and much more stuff.
Here goes the first edition of Madridista Corner.
- New Signings and Their Effect
With Real Madrid making all the headlines due to the new signings and the fact that they spent €250 million on them, do you think the new signings can play together?
All of them are professionals, they know how important team-work is. However now we have quite a lot of individuals, so if they won't kill each other it means they can cooperate.
Theoretically they should, but it has to be seen if they can actually gel together. But it does seem that newcomers are motivated and want to perform as a team. We have to acknowledge that many are megastars and managing their egos is going to be a tough task. Megastars want to be in the spotlight and the team to be arranged around them.
I absolutely think they can play together. Xabi Alonso is the key player for me, he will get the team working as a unit. He is the conductor of the symphony, as it were. The one concern for me is that our bench is somewhat too deep and that the players may get restless if the first eleven are not rotated often; This could harm the team morale, which is a crucial variable when you make such drastic squad changes.
Looking at them we can slot the big five together you know—Albiol, Ronaldo, Kaka Alonso and Arbeloa. Granero has potential but realistically he would be limited to the substitute role for most matches.
Yes, they will play quit well together but they need time to blend, and we shouldn’t rush them. They will deliver for us the magic we all expecting
Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, or Xabi Alonso: Who do you think will have the greatest impact?
I think it's going to be Xabi Alonso with his work in midfield, Benzema looks sharp in attack too. I think Xabi will have the majority of assists and Karim (if not Pipita) will score the most number of goals for Los Blancos.
I think Cristiano Ronaldo will have the greatest impact because he has a good work ethic and he really is working very hard, not that the others aren't. Karim is doing good. And Xabi's arrived late, so I can't say much about him.
As I've said, I think it will be Xabi Alonso. Whether he will get the recognition or not is unclear. What Real Madrid lacked in the Calderón era was an ability to retain possession in midfield—this was the root of the defensive issues over the last few seasons.
Besides passing, this is what Xabi Alonso does best—winning and keeping the ball, and redistributing it in clever ways to his teammates. He will be the engine of this team.
Xabi Alonso, his passing will be the key for the creation of goals.
My pick would be Kaka and Xabi. They are blending smoothly and doing well from day one, I think Benzema still young, and CR9 will need a little more time to regain his full potentials.
What should be done with Higuain?
He should be given a place in the first eleven 24/7! Pipita has all we need in young players—motivation, skills, team spirit, and a hunger for victories. Raul is getting older, and the pair of Gonzalo and Karim together for 90 minutes can be very dangerous.
That is really tough now, he can be tried on the wings but there are many other candidates for that position already.
Higuaín is unfortunate—with the arrival of Benzema and the resurgence of Raul as well as the danger of Ruud van Nistelrooy recovering from his knee injury his chances of regular play will be limited, just as he is blossoming into a world-class striker.
Still, he will get playing time, as Benzema may need a period of adjustment (though his pre-season form suggests otherwise) and Raul and Van Nistelrooy cannot be expected to play more than 30 games a season.
Next year, Raul will start to play significantly less, I should think, and Van Nistelrooy will most likely leave the club. He should therefore stay and wait, as he has become the most likely successor to Raul at second striker, and his partnership with Negredo and Benzema could be stunning over the next decade.
Well this is a sticky issue, he could be used as a substitute for Raul or as a striker if we play a 4-4-2.
Well he actually deserves to be a starter, that's for sure. But Benzema cost a lot, and as long as Raul is still doing good job, he will be on the bench. So what we should do is rotate our attack so everyone gets time to play, especially him. He simply deserves it.
Has Manuel Pellegrini made any improvements to the team or not?
Can't say that looking at pre-season games, but he has eliminated players he didn't need, so I guess that's an improvement.
He is experimenting a lot with players and formations and it will be too soon to judge his performance. Nothing is going to happen fast and easy.
Absolutely, Mijatovic and Calderón made a lot of inappropriate and expensive purchases over the last few years and the team was in dire straits. Pellegrini has improved the team in every way, giving us the width, creativity, passing range, defensive solidity and ability to retain possession—that the team has quite frankly lacked over the last few seasons, and truthfully since Makelele left for Chelsea.
Each acquisition has been stellar in my book, though my one regret is not snaring David Villa from Valencia when we had the chance but Benzema is a top, top striker.
Well, that was handled by Perez.
That would be a big yes, much different from the past two years, we can notice the balance in attack and defense, and he is managing the superstars' egos in a good way, I guess he is doing a good job so far.
- Operation Exit and Return Of The Canteranos
Real Madrid have removed the most useless player (voted by fans) and the left back—Gabriel Heinze, Who do you think is best suited at left back— Alvaro Arbeloa, Miguel Torres, Royston Drenthe or Marcelo?
I guess Arbeloa, he is a versatile defender, he has proved that in the English Premier League. However I've got a feeling that Marcelo has a lot of potential, with some hard work and commitment he can be a decent left back.
Arbeloa's got to be the first choice. Drenthe is only speed nothing much else, though he has improved in pre-season. And Marcelo can be tried as a left winger where he has done well last season.
I am certainly very happy to see Heinze leave. My preference would be to see Arbeloa start at left back—he's much more solid defensively than any of the other choices and has shown his class during the pre-season fixtures.
Drenthe should be used only as a winger unless circumstances demand it, and Torres is a good back-up for either full-back slot should Sergio Ramos or Arbeloa be unavailable. Marcelo should play either left midfield or left wing depending on what is available.
First Arbeloa then Marcelo, even though Marcelo plays better as a left winger. Drenthe looks good at left back, but he should be loaned out to a team where he gains experience and develops into a quality player.
I think the most suited player is Arbeloa, because he is the most balanced performer. Marcelo is good only in attack, and Drenthe and Torres are below par. So Arbeloa would give the team a good balance. But in attacking matches I would choose Marcelo.
Who else do you think should be sold?
Rafael Van der Vaart, Ezequiel Garay, and Royston Drenthe.
Miguel Torres, Fernando Gago, and Rafael Van der Vaart.
Rafael Van der Vaart (pity, he has to leave), Negredo (loan or possibly a buy-back clause) and Miguel Torres (would be sad to lose another Canterano)
Rafael Van der Vaart, Mahamadou Diarra, Christopher Metzelder, Miguel Torres (loan) and Royston Drenthe (loan).
Miguel Torres, Alvaro Negredo (with buy-back clause), Fernando Gago, Royston Drenthe and Rafael Van der Vaart.
Negredo looked quite good in pre-season and now he is linked with a move away to Hull City or Zaragoza. Should he leave or should he stay?
He should go on loan to another club in order to play regularly. He's quite young, he has talent and he needs to develop it with regular game-time, he should not be warming the bench in Madrid. He should go to Hull, to see how he fares in the English Premier League, to play against giants like Manchester United and Liverpool will help him come back stronger to Madrid, when Raul retires.
I would like Negredo to stay, though it will be difficult to keep him in the team because of the 25-a-side limit of La Liga. His presence will put pressure on Higuain's inclusion.
I think Negredo is a top player, maybe along with Granero and Mata the best youth product Castilla has put out in the last decade since Casillas was promoted to the first team.
I'd be sorry to see him go, but I imagine that playing time will be short at Madrid this season. If he leaves, there will be a buy-back clause and he will return the next season. I think he should go out on loan instead but regardless, I think regular play at a team like Zaragoza would be beneficial.
For the best of Negredo and Real, Negredo should move with a buy-back clause. I think Hull City and Zaragoza both have their advantages.
If Negredo switches to Zaragoza, he stays in Spain and gets to know the league better. And Hull City would be a learning experience as then he would get to play teams from the English Premier League and understand their style of play which could help him in the Champions League.
Realistically both are great teams. But Negredo should move with a buy-back clause to the place where he is guaranteed first team action, so when he returns to replace Raul, he has the experience.
As much as I want him to stay, I think he will be sold with a buy-back clause. Because we already have four forwards—Raul, Higuain, Benzema, and Rudd Van Nistelrooy. So I think it is best for him to leave, because I think he will be the one to replace Rudd when he leaves. So it's a win-win situation (hopefully).
Esteban Granero returns to Real Madrid after charming Getafe. What do you think about Esteban Granero at Real Madrid?
Esteban has lots of talent, and playing with Kaka and Alonso will help him, he can learn a lot. I think he can play everywhere in the midfield, but the best for him is to be behind strikers, he seems to feel the best there.
He has shown much in the preseason and can play in many positions but his place in the starting lineup is not sure. Again there are many players for that position and can be tried as a backup of Alonso or Kaka or for wingers. I would keep him at all costs, period.
I am a big fan of Granero. He showed his worth at Getafe and in pre-season for Madrid and I think if he gets some playing time, most likely on the left wing, he will be influential.
As Guti is on his way out in the next couple years, I see Granero as his long-term, hopefully much more consistent successor. His impact this season may be limited by the outstanding talent that strives to keep him out of the first eleven (Robben, Kaka, Sneijder, Guti), but if he gets a good run in the team in the cup or lesser league fixtures, look for him to make the most of the chance and force his way into the team. His pre-season performance has no doubt favourably disposed Pellegrini towards him so he may get a run-out sooner rather than later.
A versatile player, who has a tremendous future. He can be great at the left wing, thus helping to make the best midfield for Real Madrid.
I think he will be the one to watch. He will take every chance he will get to impress. He was already impressive in the pre-season games in all the positions that he was played. He is just amazing, I am glad that he was bought back.
I think his future is very bright, and he will take the spotlight from everyone. And in the years to come, he will be our Iniesta, and by that I mean the star behind the stars.
- The New Team and Expectations
Real Madrid suddenly has an increased number of Spanish players (11), will it help in any way?
I'm not sure if it will help, but it certainly won't hurt anyone.
I don't think it would be of any help, it will just give the team a Spanish flavour and nothing else.
Certainly, having more Spanish players will help. They play together in the national team, and so squad chemistry will be enhanced; they also speak the language and will adjust well to the league, if they are coming from abroad.
Given the recent success of the Spanish national team, having more of its players can only help Madrid's football. Plus it is also easier for the Madrid faithful to get behind their team and be the "twelfth man" as it were, when they can connect to the team through homegrown or Spanish players.
In defense we have three of our main players who are Spanish, this would increase the level of communication between them and Iker. It will also increase the support of Real Madrid in Spain, although we might lose it in the Netherlands.
Yes, we had lost our identity some time back, and the Spanish players know the value of Real Madrid better than any other players on the world. It is a pleasure to see more Spanish players.
Before we leave, What do you realistically expect from the new-look Real Madrid?
I expect them to win at least one trophy, and go a little bit further in the Champions League than in last five years. And of course, two wins in the El Classico.
People are expecting instant success (the triplet) but I am hoping to be realistic and want them to take it one step at a time.
I expect that they will press Barcelona for the title very closely this season, and as lightning rarely strikes twice, the Catalans will not be so lucky with injuries to Messi, Xavi and Iniesta and will also be hurt by the mid-season exodus of their African midfielders Touré and Keita, I should expect Real to have a very real chance of winning the league.
I also expect them to make a much stronger showing in the Champions League. With the final in the Bernabéu, the Champions League has to be the top priority and with such a strong eleven and bench, I think they have a good chance of reaching the final as well.
I would also expect Madrid, given their strength in depth, to make a better showing in the Copa del Rey, especially after last years humiliating exit to Real Unión, but I don't expect them to win it as we have little luck in that competition.
Realistically, the Champions League is the best bet alnog with Copa del Ray, as the team needs to gel, and we will be alright till February. We might drop points till October, so I didn't say the La Liga.
Champions League success. If they focus on it, they will bring the tenth trophy to Madrid. Simply because they need time to be dangerous, and till the time they become dangerous, it would be very hard to win the League.
That's it folks, until next time, keep an eye out for Madridista Corner.
Note: If anyone is interested in participating in the Madridista Corner, notify me via a post on my Bulletin Board, so I can keep it in my mind to include you in the next edition.
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