Apart from Iniesta's pass, there was nothing classic on show last night at the Camp Nou. Yes, Barcelona again demonstrated that they are the best footballing side of the last decade and yes, they again proved that they are not beyond reproach when it comes to diving, feigning and moaning. But it is Real Madrid who have problems.
In any other league in the world, Jose Mourinho's flat-track bullies would walk it due to the quality of the individual players on show and also because they wouldn't have to play Barcelona. As they do, here’s a hat-trick of things they should consider.
Sack Jose Mourinho.
Despite the Machiavellian tendencies, ridiculous interviews, conspiracy theories and negative, rigid, football, I quite like Mourinho. But for all that people try and compare the two, he is no Brian Clough, and to truly have a chance of toppling Barcelona the Special One needs to be presented with his P45 at the end of the season and told 'thanks, but no thanks.' Real Madrid will undoubtedly win trophies under Mourinho, as shown with the Copa Del Ray, but they haven't got a Pimp's chance in Salt Lake City of winning La Liga without focussing on a long-term strategy to best Barcelona. Mourinho will not do this. He believes in the rigidity of his system, often playing with inverted wingers, and although it might work against lesser teams, they are neither physical enough to attempt to steamroller Bareclona in the short term, nor good enough in possession to starve them of the ball. It would be easy to say that no team is, but Real Madrid is one of the richest clubs in the world and also one that needs rebuilding from Under-8s upwards. Real Madrid could do a lot worse that look at the impact Kenny Dalglish has had on Liverpool and find someone who either knows the club inside out or is prepared to steep himself in the history and attacking values. Despite being slightly tarnished, Benitez fits the first bill, while Andre Villas-Boas fits the second.
Allowing Chelsea to snaffle David Luiz was perhaps the biggest indicator that Mourinho couldn’t give a toss what happens to Madrid in three, five or ten years.
Sign Carlos Tevez.
Gonzalo Higuain is a fine striker, at his best one of the most lethal finishers in world football, but him, Adebayor and even Benzema are not mobile enough to play as the head of an attacking three in games when space is at an absolute premium. Carlos Tevez might be no Messi, but he is the closest thing to the little genius in his approach to the game. He never stops running, tackles back, dribbles with aplomb, takes defenders to places where they don’t want to go and has an eye for killer passes, spectacular goals and would be comfortable in a Spanish environment. There has been talk of an audacious attempt to prise Wayne Rooney away from Old Trafford but, with the best will in the world, I can only see him having the same language problems in Spain that Tevez has in England. Tevez also naturally floats to the left to cut in which both encourages a more fluid approach and allow Ronaldo to play to the best of his abilities.
He might have scored 42 goals this season, but Ronaldo has yet to hit the heights of that season with Manchester United. If you buy Ronaldo, you have to build your team around him and let him be free. Too unpredictable to play as an out-and-out winger, it is no surprise that Rooney has scored more goals since he left Old Trafford, because Ferguson set up everything to get the best out of the Portugese. Rooney was encouraged to drop wide and take defenders out of the game to allow Ronaldo to burst from deep and this goes back to what I said about Tevez. United were the best team in the world that season and won the Premier League and Champions League.
For what it’s worth, it is also blindingly obvious that Real Madrid need to ditch Kaka and buy a dominant Centre-Half, but then you knew that. Buying Ricardo Carvalho was classic Mourinho. A short-term buy who would serve him well in his short stay at the club. This is the last thing Madrid need, and allowing Chelsea to snaffle David Luiz was perhaps the biggest indicator that Mourinho couldn’t give a toss what happens to Madrid in three, five or ten years.
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