Sunday, 29 July 2007

First indications

An undemanding friendly against English 'Championship' side Stoke City gave the first clues to Bernd Schuster's approach at the helm of Real Madrid. The 2-0 final scoreline, with goals from Raúl (showing a bit of the class of old) and a penalty converted by Soldado ensured a victorious start to the games Real will play in the preseason before the start of the Spanish League on the 25th August.

In front of the unsurprising starting back four (Ramos, Pepe, Metzelder and Torres), Diarra will perform his usual defensive role, allowing the two wing backs to attack. The back line plays in a more advanced position than under Capello, some 35 metres from the goal line, and the whole eleven is compressed into a 30-metre wide band on the pitch to allow for all the players to put pressure on the opposition and retrieve the ball. Guti played in the 'midfield general' role, but I suspect this won't be the case on a full time basis, given his propensity to 'disappear' in certain games. Schuster has already expresed an interest in a player like Chelsea's Michael Ballack to fill this role.

After the game, Cicinho decided to publicly complain about being played on the left, stating that if he doesn't get to played on his favoured right wing, he would do better to leave the club. True, he's got his work cut out to displace Ramos from the starting eleven, but I suspect Salgado won't get as many starts this year as he's been used to in the past. Cicinho played on the left in the second half because with Roberto Carlos's departure, and the fact that Marcelo is still not back from international duty (plus he's still considered potentially too 'green' for the task and may get a year's loan) the squad has no cover on that side of defence. This is why Feyenoord's Royston Drenthe has been the subject of transfer speculation during the summer. Schuster reportedly had words with Cicinho and during Sunday's training session, the Brazilian played in his accustomed right side. Hopefully, this kind of public show of discontent won't become a feature under Schuster.


linda said...

So a diamond 4-4-2, then? Do you think Canna will spend a lot of time on the bench?

Gonzalo said...

Based on last night's performance against Hannover, he'd better pull his socks up if he doesn't want to be sidelined. Still, none of the defenders (or Diarra) came off that well last night.