To come in second place to the current Barcelona side is nothing to be ashamed of; the trio they have up front continue to raise the bar when it comes to just how good they can be. As each game goes by they take us to new levels, they leave grown men giddy with excitement with their captivating skill, astonishing turn of pace, outstanding positional sense and an embarrassing amount of work ethic. I suppose that you don’t reach the heights those three have reached without having something special so therefore it’s understandable that their Barcelona side are starting to open up a gap and run away with the title.
In any other country in any other competition losing to Barca is acceptable, take Arsenal for example Barcelona especially in the second half gave them a spanking on their own patch, to give Arsenal their due they did create some good chances but you always felt if Barca and their three amigos up front needed it then they had not just one but a few other gears to go into. After the defeat Wenger stated they are out of the competition and that only a miracle would see them progress. Now this is one of the top clubs in England one of the power houses of world football, Arsenal hold an embarrassing amount of talent in their squad Cech and Ozil just to name two, however even though they have such a good side, they lost to Barca and the general theory is that “who cares everyone loses to them”.
Now that may be the case 99% of the time and Enrique’s men are currently in the middle of a record breaking unbeaten run however there is one place where that theory no matter how accurate may be it just doesn’t stand. Madrid fans will never tolerate their bitter rivals being superior, they will never tell you that the way Barca play football is just beautiful to watch, you will never and I mean never hear any Madrid fan tell you that Messi is the greatest player of all time, in fact they will argue with you until they are blue in the face that he’s not even the best player in La Liga.
The Madrid fans feel they hold a certain grip on the Spanish game, it comes with the arrogance of being the most successful club in the country. Ten European Cups/ Champions Leagues speaks for its self for crying out loud they will tell you, the Los Blancos are superior to everyone else in the country and that they are the bench mark of how a club should be from top to bottom. Nothing will change this ethos amongst the supporters it’s built into them from the very core. Barcelona could win the title for the next twenty years and the Madrid fans would flock to see their beloved club and will chant and sing about being the biggest and the best, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about one up man-ship, it’s not about titles your own club win it’s about the titles they don’t.
I understand for some of you what I just said there might not make any sense, for those of you who don’t support a club with a bitter rivalry then I will explain in more detail what I mean. Now I’m not saying that other clubs derbies don’t mean anything to the supporters but those games are just about the football and nothing else. An example of what I mean is Arsenal v Spurs two great sides with great traditions and big clubs in their own equal right. However when the North London derby comes around its about being the best in North London it’s a territorial thing and nothing else there’s no anger in the supporters there’s no sense that its life and death for those in the crowd.
The Madrid v Barca derby though is different it’s about two different cultures, two different set of beliefs, two different opinions on how history panned out, it’s about much more than football it’s about oppression, nationalism and much more. It easy for me to understand the true passion and feelings these supporters have for their club as someone who has grown up in Glasgow I’ve experienced it first-hand just how embodied a football club can become within a particular group in society football in Glasgow is more than life itself and the El Classico is the exact same.
Taking that into consideration then it’s easy to see why coming in behind Barcelona regardless of how talented a team they are is never an option as it’s not just losing a game it’s about losing to a group of people you despise id go as far as saying it’s like losing a war.
After having a slow start to the season the Madrid board have appointed a club legend in Zidane to try and steady the ship and steer them towards the title. However it’s not been all sailing for his new side as Madrid are not just sitting way behind Barcelona in the table they are also stuck behind City rivals Athletico.
This means that Zidane has double the work to do to please the supporters, all the great things he done as a player in the all-white of Madrid will be cast aside if he doesn’t deliver in this his first managerial role with a senior team. To make matters worse the two Madrid sides locked horns this weekend and Athletico ran out 1-0 winners this sent them clear in second place by five points and left the title hopes pretty much nothing short of a pipe dream.
Zidane has a job to do to put it very bluntly and that is to harmonise that dressing room too many players look to be out for number one and number one only, an example is star player Ronaldo said after the defeat that if the players were as good as him then they wouldn’t need to worry about losing games and that they would be top of the league. That might be the case if the team were as good as Cristiano then they may be top of the table but the same can be said that if Ronaldo was as good a team player as he is an individual then the team may be also doing better than they are.
A drastic step is needed for the Madrid train to get back on track,, this season is a write off they should just concentrate on going as far as they can in the Champions League and the top 3 will take care of itself as Villarreal aren’t going to catch them in third place. What I feel needs to be done is the Galacticos ideology needs to be scrapped, I get this might be rich coming from one of the originals if Zidane was the guy to dismantle the idea however its what’s needed to take the club forward.
The summer should be focused on bringing in talent mainly from Spain and adding others in here and there, the club needs to see local players who understand what it’s like to play for Madrid they are craving for a Raul to progress through the ranks and show the world what it’s like to be a Madrid player. Furthermore looking beyond Spain there are some wonderful young players on the continent that would pounce at the chance to move to Spain who won’t have the ego of a pop star and who will perform to consistent high standards. To name a quick few id go for, De Gea, Hummels, Pogba, Ramsey, Reus and Morata players that have played at top clubs and know that it’s like to win.
The main course of action that should be taken in the summer at Madrid is the sale of Ronaldo, he’s the wrong side of 30 and I fully understand that he is a wonderfully gifted player but for how long can he continue at the heights of recent seasons, one more? I’d say at a push 18 more months.
Regardless if he could do it for one more year the best thing they can do is cash in on the former Lisbon and United player and invest the money in a bunch of core players who will be more than capable of challenging and the dressing room will be better off due to the constant comparison with Messi and his Barcelona brothers would end.
No matter the decisions Zidane makes he’s got a huge job on his hands some of the recommendations I’ve made may seem drastic but I feel that they will put the club on the right path to taking the club and its supporters back to where they feel they belong and that’s top of the table and conquering Europe.
Author: Steven McMonagle - McMonagle Soccer