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Apr 222014
I received a comment on our Facebook page recently from a self-confessed Madridista, in capital letters no less so we are mightily impressed by his or her passion for Los Merengues, but what was shocking to us as admins and members is how hyper-critical he or she was as to what amounts to be a really good Real Madrid side; a much better side than last year's.
First off, my biggest concern is the lack of a physical presence in our midfield. We don't have a destroyer or player who stretches the field vertically. I love Xabi. He's a class act. But he's no shield. He can't operate in the single pivot. He is immobile. Athletic mids will have a field day. I wanted Mati?, but he went to Chelsea. I also was a fan of Luiz Gustavo. Pogba or Vidal would have been good, but their form has dropped considerably in recent times. Also, our wide players are incompetent. Ronaldo. He just scores goals. Does he press? No. Track his runner? No. Have an ounce of creativity? No. And people have the audacity to say he is "complete". I'd much rather have an Hazard or Reus. Those are prototypical wingers. Bale tries to have a better team ethic. But quite simply, he lacks creativity. His stats camouflage his real contribution. He doesn't aid Carvajal (he'll need to against Alaba and Ribéry). He is an athlete, a marketing ploy, but is he a RM player I would ideally have? Not really. Our center-backs are hot-headed. Despite their inspired form their season, Pepe and Ramos have been liabilities. They make aerial errors, marking lapses, and ill-fated decisions. Varane (talent wise) is our best shot. I have many more concerns to address, but I figured this was enough. Thoughts?
Where to start. I think there are some valid points, especially in defense: I think Ramos is playing out of position (which is strange, Pepe is not the player he was and Varane is carrying an injury that may effect his career (not my idea, something that I was told). Pace in general at the back is a glaring issue. Set-pieces are not as big of a problem as they have been in the past. Midfield: Alonso has been flat-out their best player over the last 5 years. He's been the best deep-lying play-maker in Europe over that time and their stats on the break make my point. He is and has never been a defensive midfielder. Plus, he's old. He never had any pace but at 32 he's done and they have no natural replacement. As for not having a destroyer, well people need to stop thinking about football in such narrow terms. There is no new Makelele. It's why most clubs have gone to a double-pivote and the good clubs are playing two deep-lying play-makers there, players who can tackle and turn the run of play quickly. I mean, Liverpool has been playing Gerrard in that sort of position all year. Football has adapted tactically over the last 5 years.

As for wingers, that's such an outdated term in terms of tactics that it doesn't mean anything. Jesus Navas is a winger. He's probably one of the few real ones left. Reus and Hazard are not. They're these interchangeable attacking mids used to flitting around a 4-2-3-1 behind a lone striker that everyone has and Real Madrid has two of the best in Cristiano and Bale; saddens me to say that but it's true. It's like arguing that Barcelona need a classic lump-it-up striker. They don't need it and Real Madrid don't need to sell their best players for a few lesser ones who can track back a little. What they need is an out-and-out finisher who can hold up play while their athletic midfielders bomb forward; Karim Benzema is talented but he's no Radamel Falcao at his best or even Diego Costa who would slot in perfectly as a lone striker at the Bernabeu. They're problem honestly is that they are built for a Jose Mourinho 4-2-3-1, and while Carlo feels more comfortable with his pyramid 4-3-2-1, they don't have the players to play it correctly.

There is a disconnect there whether we admit it or not. More soon about what I think they need to do for next season.
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