Real Madrid's trading in the summer transfer market, came to a net worth of approximately €200 million. The Madrid team brought in some fantastic talent - Kaka, Ronaldo, Alonso, Benzema & Albiol will now wear the white jersey. Add these players to the likes of Raul, Casillas, Ramos & Lassana Diarra - and you have a great side.
For every position you have at least two good players who could fit into Pellegrini's plans. The fact that the Whites have invested in some good defensive talent gives the Madrid faithful much needed hope for the season. Pellegrini has done well with modest resources at Villarreal, but can he handle the egos of the Galacticos (I hate this word!)?
The challenge for the new look Real Madrid, of course, will be to gel quickly cause the Madridistas are a demanding lot. More importantly, effective team rotation will be key. And this is something Madrid have not been too good at recently. The bench strength is only as good as the match time it gets.
For the most part, I'm happy with what Real Madrid have done in the summer. Some of the players who left Real are fantastic players in their own right, but didn't quite fit in to the system. Huntelaar is probably a good example.
Robben, despite his good start with Bayern, is a player prone to an individualistic style of play & very susceptible to injuries. I am sad to see Sneijder go, but he hasn't been the same player after he came back from injury. I think Real should have held on to Negredo and groomed him for the future. Heinze's defensive frailties & bad tackles in big matches meant he surely had to go.
Kaka is a great addition to the side, someone who can provide the creativity that has been much needed since the departure of Zizou & Figo. Benzema is a fantastic player, and does remind me a bit of the 'original' Ronaldo.
Every top team must have a player like Alonso who can control the play in the middle of the park-Barcelona have Xavi, and Manchester United have Paul Scholes who does a similar job. And Albiol & Arbeloa will not only make the team more Spanish but also add much needed options to the defense.
I am a bit critical of Cristiano Ronaldo's signing. A phenomenal talent, no doubt. Its not every season that someone scores 42 goals. But he does tend to play solo more often than I like, and perhaps does not do enough to support the team - especially the defense.
He used to go down a bit too easily for my liking, and I do hope that is a thing of the past cause that is not what Madridismo is about. And surely no one is worth £80 million - not unless your name is Zidane!
There have been a lot of comments about Real screwing up the transfer market. This is a whole load of bullshit! Luminaries of the football world are targeting Real cause they are are Real. It's news when Los Blancos do several very high value dealings in a season. Plus Real are doing this to other big clubs - the likes of Manchester United, Milan & Liverpool - who themselves feed off smaller fish. And I don't think Real unsettled any player, at least not anything different from what is common place in the world of football.
It is a business, ladies & gentlemen. And a seller will demand more money from a businessman who is desperate and has deep pockets. Yes, it is true that some other clubs have a better track record than Real Madrid when it comes to grooming talent but the likes of Messi, Rooney & Ronaldinho didn't exactly take birth at their current clubs. All Real have done wrong is pay more than the fair value! Still nothing illegal.
Onto the business on the field. Real are competing in three tournaments - La Liga, Copa del Rey & the Champions League.
Real have a horrible record in the King's Cup, simply because they field a second string side in most matches, and as I mentioned before not all the players have enough match time (as a team) under their belt when they step on the field.
The La Liga will be a two horse race between the defending champions Barcelona and Real Madrid. The others are there, not just to make the numbers but, to provide some good Spanish style entertainment. I have always noticed that smaller clubs like Bilbao, Deportivo or Mallorca raise their game against Real, and some of these matches may have political overtones, so it should be a great season!
The Spanish FA have done no favours to the sides competing in the European competitions by slotting only 15 Liga matches before the winter break. A packed second half of the season will add tremendous pressure to the Champions League & Europa League contenders from Spain.
The silver lining for Real Madrid is that they play their big opponents - Villareal, Sevilla, Athletico, Barcelona & Valencia - away from home before the winter break.
The Champions League is what I want, though it is too early to talk about favorites, Real Madrid along with Barcelona & Inter have very good sides - on paper. Alex Ferguson always bring something special to the table at Manchester United. Plus Liverpool's tenacity (a better cup side than a league side), Ancellotti's tactics, Arsenal's panache, Juventus & Bayern Munich's resurgence will make the competition very interesting.
Real are drawn against Milan, Marseille & Zurich in the group stages. I, for one, was hoping for a good tough group for Real to test their tactics & formation, and preferably an English opponent, since the risk is lower in the group stages & the Spanish game will not test all facets of Real's game.
Nonetheless this group should be a good test for Real, and I expect us to go through. Los Merengues first travel to Zurich, who have nothing to loose and the Swiss champions could pose a tough challenge for the giants. It will be Deschamps' Marseille at the Bernabéu up next, and the Ligue 1 side are doing well at the moment.
Deschamps is a good tactician, and the likes of Ben Arfa & Lucho Gonzalez could cause some problems for the Madrid defense on the counter. Milan will be the opponents for Madrid on match days three and four, and the Milanese are not the side they used to be but still a pedigree side. An aging side that badly misses the services of Ancelloti & Kaka, as was evident in their recent derby loss to Internazionale. But the likes of Ronaldinho, Pirlo & Pato will still be great opponents come 21st October.
The fact that the final will be at the Santiago Bernabéu is a distraction that Real can do without. Remember, we have lost in the Round-of-16 in the last five years! The final is a long way away.
Needless to say, the Madrid faithful have much to look forward to. A great strategy revolves around one's strengths, but Pellegrini will do well to note that a good strategy also should not play into the opposition's hands. The opposition does deserve respect sometime, especially those which are adept at counter attacking football. And please, let's not be complacent!
Here is to a great season ahead, Hala Madrid!