Raul, the legendary Real Madrid striker, has completed his rumored move to Schalke from the Spanish giants. After a stellar career with both Real Madrid and Spain, does the former international have enough left to make an impact?
The Bundesliga is far more physical than La Liga, and at 33, can Raul adjust to this demanding style of play? Time and space are limited in the Bundesliga, and the match officials are not keen on divers in the rough-and-tumble German league.
It is a difficult adjustment for most players, and coming from Spain, it will be even more difficult. Each side in the league features massive central defenders who are given plenty of leeway, and midfielders who, while not as creative as typical La Liga players, are hard to play against physically and allowed to push and hold far more than Raul will be used to.
What is a foul in Spain is a play on in the Bundesliga, or most other European leagues for that matter. Gone are Raul’s days of drawing touch fouls, as you need not wait for the whistle in Germany to know if you've been fouled, you will feel it, and sometimes, even that is not enough.
How he will fare against the likes of Van Bommel and Schweinsteiger remains to be seen.
Raul has made the mistake of believing that the Bundesliga is just like anywhere else, when in reality, only the Scottish League, because of the culture of Scottish match officials, and the American MLS, because of the poor caliber of officiating, come even close to the manhandling in Deutschland.
I have no doubt that in his prime, Raul could have made a difference for Schalke, but at 33, and making a position change to the midfield maybe a bridge too far for the former Galactico.
In 740 appearances with Real Madrid, Raul netted a record 323 goals. His record as a striker is impressive, but now, having lost a step, he no longer fits with Real Madrid. New manager Jose Mourinho rarely makes mistakes on players, and if Raul could still contribute at an elite level, he would never have been allowed to leave Madrid.