Madrid : Pretend Or For Real?
A fine strike was all that separated France's best European performers in recent years and the new assembly of galacticos on display. Due to French advertising law, Real Madrid were forced to cover up their shirt sponsor , a gambling giant, for the trip to Lyon. Though many a Madrid fan would have had their heads too deep in their hands to have even noticed.
If Manchester United were at sixes and sevens for long periods at the San Siro, then Madrid were at fours and fives, while there eight and nine, failed to conjure the same intuition that saw them runaway three goal winners at the weekend. Ronaldo and Kaka, on so much hangs, failed to turn up at the races, against a well drilled Lyon side, capable of leaping into the counter. Even Xabi Alonso looked uncomfortable, while Karim Benzema provided little of the zest that Lisandro Lopez, his replacement at Lyon, gave to the home side.
Yes Madrid are now firmly on the heels of Barcelona, after picking off bottom side Xerez on Saturday, however the prize that fans and boardroom supremos crave, a tenth European title, appears a distant prospect. As do the chances of them fielding a side that can achieve regular cohesion.
As much as i admire Kaka's elegant brilliance, even as an ardent supporter of his style and substance, he does appear to be having problems in adapting to the role being asked of him. Unlike Ronaldo, who plays upfront, giving him the right to roam back when he feels, Kaka appears to have been marginalised to the left, where his vision and creativity are limited by the touchline and byline.
Although it would be unfair to suggest that Madrid's apparant shortcomings against stiff opposition are his fault, he is the man that the team acquired to help unlock opposition defences, through penetrating passes and slalom runs. Play him centrally, and allow him to collect the ball from deep and Madrid may well start to see the player they made the second most expensive in football history.
One thing is for sure however. Given the strength of their relationship off the pitch, it is only a matter of time before eight and nine blossom on it...
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