Mondays By the Sun: How Real Madrid Lost Their Identity
Monday night, Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho appears in the postgame press conference, and relies on the excuse Real Madrid fans have heard for well over two years now: “Barça is a finished product; Madrid is a product still in the making.”
Mourinho is completely right in one of those statements; Pep Guardiola's amazing team has been, for a while, a completed project. The dominance with which the Catalonians trashed Los Blancos, 5-0, could not even compare to that 6-2 Barcelona massacre in 2009. This time, everything was perfect, as if taken from a scene of the movie Goal!.
Barça's passing and dribbling; the utter dominance by a team who, month after month, continues to prove that they are almost solely the reason why Spain beat the Dutch and went on to win the World Cup a few months back on that glorious summer night.
In the last 20 minutes of the game, the Catalonians made the mistake to show off to their fans; back-hills, one-two passes within a square foot and the Camp Nou crowd chanting "Ole!," ended with Lionel Messi's leg bruised after the Argentinean had been brought down by Sergio Ramos who, infuriated, had enough.
Of course, the Real Madrid right back did not play to see the final whistle. Ramos' red card in the last minute of the game was a perfect portrayal of what Real Madrid represents today.
Morinho's team is a pretty, glowing, lean machine, but with a hidden monster waiting to wake up inside of it. As long as the team is scoring, and the pressure is not in the midfield, everything is great. Ronaldo as the top scorer, Iker Casillas as the least scored goalkeeper in Spain and the coach, happy to be above Barcelona in the table.
Can Real Madrid come back from last night's massacre?
Yesterday's defeat showed Madrid's dark side. Ronaldo pushing Guardiola in one of his now usual acts of pretentiousness (yes, Guardiola, Barça's coach); Sergio Ramos being sent off after a horrid and very well meant tackle on Messi; and the crowd at the Camp Nou serenading who used to be a part of the team's staff: “Sal del banquillo, Mourinho Sal del banquillo!” (come out of the bench, Mourinho come out of the bench!)
Ramos, after being shown the way to the lockers by the referee, even pushed Carles Puyol down to the ground when, after the already famous tackle, Barcelona's captain went after him. To see Ramos yelling at his own teammate in Spain's national team, with whom he lifted the World Cup, was the perfect example of what Real Madrid now represents.
Real Madrid is obviously still the best club, if only historically. They have more Champions League and La Liga titles than anyone. They have Ronaldo. They have one of the biggest fan bases on the globe. However, as of today, Madrid has nothing on a team like Barcelona, even if they went on to win Liga and Champions League this season.
Jose Mourinho has spent so much time trying to adapt the way he coaches to a new country, that he has forgotten about showing the team which way they are supposed to play, and most importantly, which way they have to behave on the field.
The Portuguese coach has simply put together an amazingly strong attack, an experienced defense, and has tweaked his tactics to be a bit more crowd-pleasing than when coaching Inter or Chelsea.
Mourinho is somewhat right stating that Madrid is a work in progress. What he does not seem to see is that building the identity of the team is not even a part of that progress. As of today, there is no identity. With a team like Barcelona in the same league, a historic rival only a few hundred miles away, comparisons are unavoidable.
What Mourinho does not seem to notice is 99 percent of Madrid fans would gladly accept not celebrating any titles for a year or two, if that meant they could see their beloved team play anything like Barcelona, or the Spanish national team for that matter.
The saddest part is Mourinho is not the kind of coach who will make that happen. Pellegrini was the man. But they never let him try.
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