Monday, 27 November 2006

"We were lucky"

Raúl celebrates after scoring the winnerEven Capello had to admit Real Madrid had their lucky stars to thank last night after leaving Valencia with another three points under their belt. The lack of any midfield creativity (Guti was both injured and suspended - double whammy) saw Real hand over the initiative to an injury-depleted Valencia.

The locals had by far the best of the first half, but they spurned their chances and lost their main striker, David Villa early on. The inclusion of Villa in the Valencia squad was a gamble that did not pay off, as he'd been carrying an injury from their previous game, and while the chés had the best of the play, they struggled to convert their chances.

In contrast, Real had precious few opportunities, but as is customary under Capello, withstood the barrage, waited patiently and took full advantage of Raúl's clinical finishing. It wasn't pretty, and there were serious doses of luck, as Valencia had a decent penalty appeal turned down (Cannavaro was again all at sea - it's taking him a long time to adapt and he had to be substituted to make sure he didn't leave his side with 10 men on the pitch).

On a positive note, Capello gave youngster Rubén de la Red 25 minutes to show whether he is Guti's natural replacement, and the kid had a decent performance, although his instructions were clearly to help out with defensive tasks in midfield. He did have a shot on goal parried though, so it was a promising debut.

President Calderón, emboldened perhaps by the signing of a multi-million euro TV contract last week, later said that his electoral promise to sign AC Milan midfielder Kaká was not a "lie" and that it "might turn into a reality very soon". If this comes off, it remains to be seen whether it is a solution to the team's current dearth of organisation in midfield.

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