Quiet Summer At Real Madrid
By any standards this has been one of the most unusual summers that Real Madrid has been a part of. Quiet, well planned, making calculated moves and retaining their existing players rather than talking of replacing them with superstars from other teams. Despite the relative lack of movement the planning for the future is evident. Also evident is the purpose and logic behind each move however small it may be. Real Madrid moved with a purpose of a tiger hunting down its prey, than casting a net to hoping catch a prized prey. The club has also refused to pay exorbitant, unjustified and astronomical amounts just to land their targets.
As with any other season, the quiet season will not mean that the expectations will be lowered. “La Decima” has been asked for the last several seasons each time ending in disappointment. This time however, there seems to be a palpable excitement in the Real Madrid supporters.
This time due to a combination of factors Real seem to be in the pole position for the champions league crown. Pep Guardiola has left, United are not the force they were. The only realistic threat comes from Chelsea and Manchester City.
The “Only One” Factor: Jose Mourinho
Like him, hate him, love him or loathe him, Jose Mourinho’s tenure at Real Madrid has been topsy-turvy even by his standards. He has transformed Real Madrid and has brought sanity to madhouse operations. Undoubtedly he was instrumental in convincing Gonzalo Higuain when he categorically stated that he was not for sale at even 60 mil Euros. Such public proclamation of faith was instrumental in rebuffing the advances of PSG when they came calling for Benzema and Higuain.
One the players that Real Madrid struggled to replace was Xabi Alonso. The orchestrator-in-chief has been fundamental to Real Madrid’s play and whenever he was absent Real Madrid has looked rudderless. Luckily Alonso never sustained a major injury and Real Madrid had to never play in a major match without him.
Nuri Sahin was brought in as his replacement and due a variety of reasons beyond the control of both the parties, he never really fired. However, Real Madrid are convinced that Sahin has the capability to make a huge impact and want him to get minutes elsewhere.
Modric is one player who can really fit the bill of Alonso’s replacement. Though he is a box to box player or an attacking midfielder unlike Alonso who is deep lying playmaker, he has capability to dictate the tempo of the game just like Alonso. Jose Mourinho knows this fact well and thus has pushed for Modric’s signing. Modric will not be coming to Real Madrid just because he can provide assists or score goals. But he has come here to become Madrid’s heartbeat like Alonso.
Mourinho also apologized for the eye poke and admitted that it was his fault. While a belated apology, nevertheless it takes a great man to admit his mistakes and Mourinho was brave enough to that. Also, since Mourinho has signed a two year extension, he seems to be staying at Real Madrid for a while. This will enhance his power and it will reassure the players that future plans will be coherent and they will not be subject to sudden coaching changes.
One pressing bone of contention for all Madridistas has been the promotion of youth players into the first team. This year again several promising youngsters were sold off by Real Madrid, albeit with buyback clauses to various clubs around the world.
Only Morata has made the cut to real Madrid first team and while that is heartening step, the departure of Carvajal was a surprising step. The right back spot is considered to be the vulnerable spot by all and some cover for Arbeloa would have been welcome. Add to the fact that Carvajal would gained some valuable minutes and insights seemed to be an added bonus. But one can trust Mourinho to know what he is doing and so far all his moves have not disappointed.
SuperCopa: La Liga’s Curtain Raiser
Whenever any Real Madrid or Barcelona fan tells you that this fixture does not hold much importance for them , one piece of advise: Don’t believe them. While the trophy in itself is nothing to brag about, the fact remains that it is an “El Clasico”. No self-respecting fan would like to cede bragging rights to their arch enemies and this is no different.
Both the teams will be out for blood and neither of them would want to cede psychological advantage ahead of the more important “El Clasicos”. Both the teams will start with their strongest lineups and will want to add this trophy to their roster.
Arrival Of Modric At Real Madrid To Complete The Jigsaw
Modric is a player who can act as a playmaker as well as a traditional box to player. Thus he brings welcome cover for both Ozil and Alonso and we have a world class player who can fill either position. Although sadly enough it does mean the end of road for Kaka. The Brazilian trequartista is clearly not a major part of Mourinho’s plans and Modric’s arrival will only hasten the inevitable parting. While good, Kaka never fulfilled the expectations that he ariived with at the Bernabeu. He is still a good player and can contribute to any team he wants to be a part of.
Modric will provide some much needed variety and technical expertise in the middle of the park and hopefully he will prove to be one of the best signings by Real Madrid in several years.
Fixture List Of Real Madrid
Last year both Real Madrid and Barcelona were expected to contest the final of UEFA Champions league. The fixture list that the draw of lots threw up just seemed to portend towards that inevitable fixture. Yet both Real Madrid and Cules crashed out in the semifinals as the semis were sandwiched between an “El Claisco”. This year mercifully, La Liga list has been designed to keep such physically and mentally challenging fixtures earlier to avoid such a repeat.
Real Madrid will begin their title defense against Valencia in their own home. While sometime back it used to be a fixture that used to fill Real Madrid with a certain amount of trepidation, the fixture has lost its sheen. With Jordi Alba now departing for Barcelona, Valencia have lost their 5 star player in 3 years. It is a good match on paper but it unlikely that it will produce a major upset so early in the league.
The fixture has been kind in balancing the tough with the easy and this year both Real Madrid and Barcelona will be aiming to complete a treble.
Overall Expectations At Santiago Bernabeu
The first and foremost priority will undoubtedly be “La Decima”. While everyone may play down its significance, the lack of Champions League trophy for so many years in the Real Madrid trophy cabinet is particularly frustrating. While two consecutive semi-final appearances have reduced the pain, the real elixir can only be the “big-eared” trophy.
If La Decima is the priority, then La Liga comes a close second. As it was proved last year, Real Madrid really have no scope for errors and it will come to the fact who makes the least mistakes. A historic 100 point season is very difficult to top but even a title defense will do.
Even Copa Del Rey will be important solely due to the fact that Real Madrid will meet Barcelona at some point. Even the meaningless trophies of yesterday have acquired an edge due to the rivalry between the two clubs.
Also hopefully, from the Castilla’s point of view, both Jese and Morata will get plenty of minutes. But this looks unlikely given that roster at Real Madrid has the likes of Kaka and Sahin on bench. Still these two youngsters have it in them to make it to Real Madrid’s first team and hopefully we have two stars who can make it big in the years to come.