Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Back to earth with a thump

Let's get the excuses out of the way first: It's only the preseason, the players have only been together for a week and some of them had not yet arrived from their holidays, Hannover kicks off in the Bundesliga in 10 days, whereas there are over 3 weeks to go to the start of the Spanish league.

The above are all valid, but they do not take away from the aptness of the saying pride comes before a fall. The hubristic hype peddled by the usual suspects (As, Marca) heralded a new, more attractive offensive football. Carlos Queiroz remarked in a recent interview that when he managed the squad back in 2004 he played attractive football and lost: "Real Madrid is extremely sensitive to external pressures. It was so in the past, it is the case now, and I don't know if it will continue to be, but it's something they need to address". He pointed to the fact that Manchester United managed to win the Premiership playing the type of football that is both effective and attractive, and expressed his disappointment that di Salvo, the fitness coach, has left Manchester for Madrid, while saying that Real have got themselves an excellent professional.

Valter di Salvo has his work cut out then, to get the squad's fitness levels up to scratch, if the evidence of last night's performance, particularly in the second half is anything to go by. They started the game brightly (and offensively) enough, with De la Red orchestrating in midfield and threading a number of passes through to Higuaín, who was not at his most inspired, missing at least three clear cut chances.

However, the defence, which had attained some measure of robustness under Capello, did a passable Swiss Cheese impersonation, especially Cannavaro, who will have to work hard this year to retrieve any kind of credibility (he hasn't got the excuse of poor preparation last year following a World Cup campaign). The wings were non-existent; this is a problem, especially on the left (Robinho at least should be back on the right, now he's returned from the Copa América), but there's as yet no movement on the reported negotiations for Robben (is he really worth over 30 million to Chelsea?) and Drenthe. Maybe Marcelo will feature in Schuster's plan after all, although his extended holidays have been the subject of some anger back at the club.

It's not a disaster; it was just a preseason friendly after all, but it was a wake-up call: the first real test (Spanish supercup) is a mere 10 days away and there's a hell of a lot of work to do, new signings or no new signings.


estoverao said...

Unfortunately, as you pointed out, Canavarro is looking just as bad as he did last year under Capello. Hopefully this tournament in Russia will do us some good now that the South American contingent(Robinho,Baptista,Gago,Marcelo) have returned. Do you think Kaka is worth $90 mill.? We could get Nasri or Diego for much less than that. Kaka isn't the world beater I'll put the whole team on my back kind of player AS & MARCA are making him out to be. Thanks for the link as well. Hala Madrid!

Gonzalo said...

Baptista is back and has just got his Spanish passport, so no longer takes up a non-EU place. The talk is that Milan are interested, and Real want to use him to get Kaká. You ask if he's worth 80 million euros. My view is that he isn't (assuming Jesus wants to sell). That would make him more expensive than Zidane, and he's not Zidane. Calderón is looking to belatedly make good on some of his election campaign promises, with as much of the club's money as it takes.

linda said...

You're right, it's just a pre-season friendly, nothing to worry about. If you had Ruud playing then you would probably have won anyway.

The defense does look like it needs some major work, though. It's mind boggling to me, in particular, the way that Canna has regressed in Spain.

Gonzalo said...

Ruud is still off with the same injury he picked up in the last game of the season. It looks like Saviola and Higuaín may be the ones chosen to start against Lokomotiv.

There's no doubting Cannavaro's class and ability, but the curse of the central defender seems alive and well at Real Madrid

G said...

i'll bet pepe breaks that 'curse'