Monday, 6 August 2007

From Russia with goals

Rather than go into details about the two matches Real Madrid played in Moscow, I'll concentrate on a few of the things to take away from the performances we've seen in the preseason so far.

Results-wise, it's not been too bad (the exaggerated 3-0 scoreline against Hannover aside). All the teams faced so far are at least a couple of weeks further along in their preseason training than Real Madrid; this makes a big difference at this stage. In the case of Lokomotiv, they are actually half-way through their season (which must be worrying for them, given the 5-2 score, but then again, perhaps their attention was focused elsewhere). Also it's clear Schuster is moving all the pieces around to see how well they fit into his scheme. He clearly still has some work to do. Whether new signings will come in to supplement what's already there remains to be seen, the bleatings of the sports press notwithstanding.

  • Dudek showed off his impressive reflexes, although he could've done better in the second goal against PSV, but Casillas now knows he cannot rest on his laurels. I still see him as second-choice, though.
  • Metzelder has had a worrying lack of opportunities: he did not play against Hannover or PSV and only part of the game against Lokomotiv, where his performance was not up to par. Let's hope this is not the shape of things to come.
  • Pepe, on the other hand, is looking settled already and shows perhaps why Real paid so much money for him. However, if Cannavaro and Metzelder don't pull their socks up, Ramos may be joining him in the centre of defence, rather than on the right wing.
  • Twelve months on, there is still no replacement for Guti (not Gago or de la Red). Capello had similar troubles last season finding someone else with the creativity to open up defences and link up Real's midfield and forward lines.
  • Saviola got off the mark in both games, although the first came from the penalty spot. He's also been doing his set-piece homework, connecting with Guti's inch-perfect set-up from a free kick to score Real's only goal against PSV. However, Real are clearly still missing Van Nistelrooy up front.

7 comments:

linda said...

You raise an interesting point: all the press bleating aside, do Real even need more signings? What do you think?

estoverao said...

Gago and De La Red definitely need to step up because it really looks like the only signing we'll be able to get is Robben(I didn't think Ballack was the answer anyway). What do you think has been wrong with Gago?

Gonzalo said...

Linda,
Whether Real Madrid needs any more players is really up to Schuster - we only get to see the games, rather how the players are performing in training and we don't know what role he has asked them to perform. There seems, however, to be a clear lack of strength on the left with the departures of Roberto Carlos and Reyes. The canteranos are not really up to the task from what we've seen and Marcelo still needs to show whether he's mature enough to perform at this level. Schuster has supposedly asked for Robben and for someone like Ballack in midfield, but I pay very little attention to the press until anything is made official.

Estoverao,
Gago is not a Ballack-type player; he plays further back, like a traditional 'number 5'. His problem is that Diarra is probably a more likely starter in that position and he cannot really replace Guti further up. Hence the dangerous, in my opinion, dependence on Guti for the creative spark. His talent is unquestionable. Unfortunately, so is his penchant for 'disappearing' in so many games.

estoverao said...

good point, so far though it looks like we will unfortunately be Guti dependent. At least Drenthe and Robben will arrive soon. I was really surprised that DIEGO's name never came up in the MARCA/AS Madrid press rumor mill as a possible transfer though, do you think it had to do with his poor COPA AMERICA run?

G said...

drenthe is officially ours

Gonzalo said...

Estoverao,

Diego was the subject of transfer speculation last April. He also paired up well with Robinho when they were both at Santos. But, as you say, there's been little mention of him so far this summer. What the reasons may be, alas, I don't know.

Andrew said...

Gonzalo --

I have a question totally unrelated to this particular post: did Madrid have any foreign players on their roster in the late 1920's, especially during the first League Championship season?

Or could you point me to a site that has the year-by-year team roster?

Thanks so much!

-- Andrew