Sunday, January 9, 2011

The White Puzzle

The Los Blancos are the richest club in the world. They have had some of the costliest if not the best players every season in their team and this time they have their coach, Jose Mourinho as the galactico! And yet, they don't seem to be winning in Europe. This is possibly the best team plus manager they have had in a long time and one expects the special one to deliver. Pressure is not new to Jose, but what about his team? They came a cropper against Barcelona already and have had a tough match against getafe and also villareal (live as I write this). So, what is the mystery behind their lack of silverware off late?

Now, I cant claim that I know all the answers, but I think I know a couple of their biggest issues. The champions league winning teams are always the hard working teams, not necessarily the most skilled teams. And the best example of this is last years champions, Inter Milan. With this as the necessary requirement, in my opinion, Real Madrid has a real problem. They have a talented unit, no doubt, but they dont have a hard working one. Real usually playes 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders in Xabi and Khedira/Diarra and a point man upfront in either Higuain or Benzema. The trio working behind the point man is the famed creators in ronaldo, di maria and ozil. Their backline has marcelo on left and sergio ramos on right with carvalho and pepe doing center duties. Now, personnel may change from this list, but Jose more or less plays this style unless he is forced to change it.

  1. While the creative trio behind the point man are extremely adept at threading defenses with passes or runs or shots, not one of them comes back to midfield to help the holding midfielders. They think of themselves as goal scorers and not midfielders who need to defend.
  2. Similarly Real have two attacking full backs in marcelo and ramos. While their forward thrusts helps them in going wide in attacks, it leaves them extremely narrow in defence. So, any team capable of playing width (e.g. barcelona, villareal) will easily trouble the real defense.

While Real has the team to play attacking football, they dont have a team that can hold fort when needed, at least not against quality opposition. Their only option is to score bucket fulls and then score some more...

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