‘Good things come to those who wait’ seems to be the motto of the day in Spain- a motto accompanied by photos of Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who arguably enjoyed his best performance in a Real Madrid shirt as his side defeated Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The 67 million euro signing scored one goal and set up another two as Madrid took advantage if some questionable tactics from Ajax (hint, Real Madrid are really good on the break, don’t try and defend on the halfway line), to cruise to a comfortable win.
That and the 6-2 win against Rayo Vallecano last weekend (another side that defended way too high up the field) have restored some faith at the Santiago Bernabeu after Jose Mourinho’s side were predicted as headed for disaster in the wake of dropping five points away to Levante and Racing Santander.
Kaka was starting be become an embarrassment: to such an extent that rumours of a return to AC Milan were rife over the summer and when the pro-Madrid sports press start to write stories like that, its probably because someone at the club has dropped a hint that they would like the rumour to become fact.
Two seasons dogged by injury, with last season, especially irritating, given that he played at the World Cup despite knee problems, which then flared up when his club needed him, had led to many seeing his signing as a huge error, especially given that Mesut Ozil had arrived and immediately produced the goods.
Rumours of a return to AC Milan were rife over the summer and when the pro-Madrid sports press start to write stories like that, its probably because someone at the club has dropped a hint that they would like the rumour to become fact.
Had Kaka been a horse, he’d probably have been converted into glue around last Christmas, while at the start of the new campaign it was looked as if he would spend another season watching from the bench, while his wife tweeted angrily from the VIP box.
Now he appears to be on the road to recovery and Madrid could benefit from it. As sports paper Diario AS pointed out on Thursday, Real Madrid strung 43 passes together before Karim Benzema scored their 3rd goal on Tuesday. Kaka actually touched the ball 3 times, but he did give the decisive pass to set up Benzema’s goal.
Just to clarify: the longest passing move per game of the new ‘tiki-taka’ Real Madrid averages 23 touches, while Barcelona average 33!
Kaka’s next chance to justify those €67 (that’s sixty seven!) million Euros comes as Real Madrid have to carry out the graveyard shift on Sunday night. There is a huge debate over the kick-off times introduced in Spain for the current season: Nine different time slots sounds like a recipe for divorce in many households and the jury is still on why Mallorca and Rayo seem to be the sides that most play at mid-day. But one thing most agree on is that playing matches at 10pm on Sunday night is ridiculous.
Honestly, how do you go to a football match that finishes at midnight when you have to get up early to start the working week the next day? How do you take a kid to a game? Fans hate it, clubs hate it because it has reduced attendances, and journalists hate it (because we’d rather be tucked up in bed at that hour).
Kaka’s next chance to justify those €67 (that’s sixty seven!) million Euros comes as Real Madrid have to carry out the graveyard shift on Sunday night.
Anyhow, this Sunday, Real Madrid visit Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat ground for their first taste of the late shirt. Espanyol are traditionally seen as a ‘friendly’ club for Real Madrid, probably because they both hate Barca and the two or three Espanyol fans who travel to watch their team lose in the Bernabeu every season are always named the best visiting fans by Madrid supporters.
Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino has already commented that the best way to stop Madrid is to stop Cristiano Ronaldo, so it’s likely his side are going to sit deeper than Rayo and Ajax. Real Madrid are without winger Angel de Maria, who is suspended and ‘Dobby’ (compare De Maria with Harry Potter’s elf – the likeness is frightening) will either be replaced by Jose Callejon, who returns to the ground where he spent the previous three season hurling himself to the ground at the slightest contact, or Kaka.
Thanks to the 10pm kick off, it won’t be as hostile an atmosphere as in the 1-0 defeat to Levante, but Santander was traditionally a comfortable ground to visit before Ronaldo flicked the bird at some fans and turned the heat up. If he can do it in Santander, he can do it anywhere…
Espanyol need points, mainly because they always lose away from home and Pochettino is unlikely to hurl his side forward in attack (Alvaro’s their only decent available striker anyhow). So it promises to be interesting with two main questions: Can Kaka continue to convince? And what time is the last metro?
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