Paul Macdonald over at Goal.com has a list of 10 reasons why he thinks Real Madrid will win nothing this year.
It’s a well-written (albeit biased) article, let’s look at his 10 reasons and whether he is right or wrong:
1) The Challenge is stronger.
Madrid glanced down from the top for almost the entire season last year — to look up and see good sides performing well has a psychological effect on the way a side approaches a match.
And let’s not forget Barcelona.
Agreed. This year has seen several sides going into November gunning for the title. However, it’s STILL November. Last year Real Madrid were not ‘safe’ by any means till the second half of the season, and there’s still time to go before a team can go on a losing spree. It seems less likely though, but it’s not time to count the chickens just yet. If anything ‘chasing’ the title can galvanise a team who have won back to back league titles.
2) Barcelona are back.
After a shaky start, Barcelona are positively flying, clinically tearing through teams with brutal efficiency. Messi is in the form of his short career. Xavi and Iniesta are establishing themselves as two of the greatest players in the world. And Samuel Eto’o, thought to be on his way out of the Nou Camp in the summer, is top scorer in the league and looking unplayable again. After demolishing everyone in their wake, how can Madrid even begin to cope with that attacking quartet?
I guess time (and El Classico) will tell.
3) The defence is suspect
Weren’t they always?
4) The midfield offer little protection
Not all the blame can lie with the defence for Madrids record of two clean sheets in 15 games. The midfield, as flair-filled and flamboyant as it is, concentrate too heavily on the positive and ignore their defensive duties.
5) Unrest in the dugout and behind the scenes
6) Their Champions League record is poor
Juventus, Arsenal, Bayern, and Roma have defeated them in the first knockout round in the last four seasons, an unacceptable run for a club with such heritage. With that record behind them, and their dissapointing loss in Turin to Juventus this season, it looks unlikely they will get anywhere near the Stadio Olympico in Rome for this years final. There are simply better teams in Europe at the moment.
I agree with Paul, I don’t see Madrid winning in Europe this season.
7) Raul is past his best
The Spaniard has shown flickers of his greatness this season, but his legs have gone.
We’ve been hearing that for a few years now. People keep saying it about Scholes and Giggs at Manchester United as well, not realising that senior players are their as much for their value in the dressing room as their experience and quality on the pitch.
8) Coach, we need wingers!
Robben is the only true wide midfielder at the club, and ‘The Glass Man’, as he is dubbed, is incapable of staying fit for an extended period.
Fair point, but I can see comparisons with Chelsea from last season here in terms of a team playing too narrow at times. What does that mean? Someone other than Madrid will need to pull a Manchester United if they want to be sure of stopping Madrid.
9) They have been fortunate so far to have the points they do.
A 96th minute penalty in the Vicente Calderon.
A last-minute Van Nistelrooy goal against Betis, while playing with ten men.
Espanyol missing sitters in the 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu.
Marcelo not being red carded, and Llorente smashing the post in the dying seconds against Athletic Bilbao.
Madrid have rode their luck slightly. Is it the mark of champions, or will the rub of the green run out on Schuster?
The Right Result table last season showed Chelsea benefiting from the ‘rub of the green’ (they should have been 4th), as it were, and Everton suffering as a result (they should have been in Europe). It’s a valid point until Madrid start winning ‘fairly’, which will never happen for some people.
10) Cristiano Ronaldo stayed in Manchester.
David Villa stayed at Valencia, Santi Cazorla stayed at Villarreal, and with the exception of Van der Vaart, no-one wanted to come to the Bernabeu in the summer.
David Villa would have moved if Madrid had made a reasonable offer in time, and Ronaldo was never going to come once United had put their foot down. A poor transfer season is one thing, but United won the league after losing Nistelrooy and signing Carrick (see the Robinho / Van der Vaart comparison I just slipped in there?).
My view is that while Madrid will find it tougher this year (for a variety of reasons, not least being the form of other teams), it’s way too early to write off their chances.
If I were a betting man, I’d wait till December before betting against Madrid in the league. In Europe it’s a different story, and I don’t see them lifting the title in May 2009 at any rate.