Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Paying the price of rotations

"We have to think about every player's physical condition in every match", said Bernd Schuster ahead of Sunday's game against newly promoted Valladolid. While not in Rafa Benítez's league when it comes to squad rotations, Schuster was as good as his word and left out Sneijder (replaced by Drenthe). Injuries to Pepe and Metzelder forced Ramos to join Cannavaro in the centre of defence, with Salgado on the right and Marcelo on the left (why not Torres?). Since the start of the season (including the Spanish Supercup), the only players still to get some time on the pitch are Soldado and reserve keepers Dudek and Codina. however, if Sneijder was in no condition to play (and he didn't come on when things turned sour), why was he on the bench? Why not Soldado, or better yet, Baptista?

Valladolid started very strong, putting the Real defence under a great deal of pressure in the first 20 minutes of the first half. Drenthe was ineffective on the left and Guti was not getting enough deliveries to feed to the front line. Diarra thankfully, was strong, despite his Ramadan-induced fasting, but he's not the type of player to link up with the forward players. Robinho was perhaps the most aggressive in the first half, with several jinking runs nearly undoing his markers. Salgado gave away two handballs in the area and Valladolid can count themselves unlucky neither of them turned into a penalty. He is really off form (I'm not the only one who thinks so), and Schuster should consider giving youngster Torres a run out.

The second half was more even, particularly when Robben came on for Drenthe on the one-hour mark. Things can only improve when he's fully match fit. However, first blood was for Valladolid, with a tremendous strike by Pedro López which Casillas, with his soon-to-be insured hands, had no chance of reaching. Casillas later claimed this was the second best goal ever scored against him.

With five minutes to go, Schuster decided to throw caution to the wind and brought Saviola on for Salgado. The little Argentine had only had a couple of touches when a through ball from Guti to van Nistelrooy beat Valladolid's offside trap. The Dutchman unselfishly laid the ball off to Saviola who merely needed a tap-in to score Real's equaliser. On the balance of play, a point was probably more than Real deserved and they'll be much happier with the outcome than Valladolid, who, like Almería, so far have shown they have what it takes to stay up this year.

In other news, the New York immigration service mistook Ramón Calderón, travelling on leisure, with a similarly-named criminal and detained him at the airport for over two hours while they checked him out. Unfortunately, telling tall stories to the press about the football club you run does not warrant a custodial sentence in the U.S., so they had to let him go.

1 comment:

Sergio said...

I am not sure I like the rotations. If players need to rest, they can play 45 minutes. But I am all for players earning their spot in the 11. It makes them be more competitive!
All want to be starters!