Every week, I’ll try to give you the best and latest Real Madrid news, notes, and analysis. Having lived in Spain, I’ll try to incorporate more of the in-depth coverage everyone wants to read. It’s an exciting time to be a Real Madrid fan. Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and a slew of young new players like Mezut Ozil, Sami Khedira, and Angel DiMaria could make dethroning Barca a reality this year.
The White shirts crushed Racing Santander 6-1 on Saturday evening in the Bernabeau. CR7 had 4 goals, being the first “Blanco” since Fernando Morientes in 2002 to score 4 or more in one game. The “Meringue play” was most impressive as they brilliantly executed pinpoint “through balls” throughout the game and penetrated the Cantabrian side’s defense from all angles. The “galacticos” have scored 16 goals in their last 3 la liga matches. Most analysts expected a blowout because Mourinho has a personal record of not having lost a home league match in eight years while at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and now Madrid. Madrid had won 32 times in 42 matches against Racing in the Bernabeau and Racing lost its best player, Sergio Canales, to Madrid over the summer. Did anyone think CR7 would have 4 goals or that a Mourinho coached side would put up 6 goals? I don’t think so. However, CR7 now has 10 goals in 8 La Liga matches, starting to get back to his Manchester United form. Ironically enough, Racing Santander coach Miguel Angel Portugal, recently held Madrid`s technical director post and this sight was all too familiar for him as he watched his team go down in a fury claiming, “we fell asleep during this match.”
Madrid maintains a 1 point edge over Barca and both teams will have to prepare for midweek Copa del Rey matches against Murcia and Ceuta, respectively. Madrid heads to Alicante next weekend to battle Hercules in the José Rico Pérez (lead by resurgent players David Trezeguet and Royston Drenthe) while Barca must square off with Sevilla in the Camp Nou (Barca barely edged Sevilla in the Sanchez Pizjuan when they faced them last May).
Now, let’s discuss Madrid’s best off season acquisition. I want to address which player has been most influential in helping “los blancos” achieve their current success. I rank them from #1-5 (1 being the best).
1. Ricardo Carvalho
The Portuguese national team player made a name for himself at Porto and starred for Chelsea. He’s a reliable backline defender and isn’t afraid to take on star strikers. He’s started all 11 games and has been a valuable acquisition due to frequent injuries to Ramos and Albiol. He already scored a goal and is a quick playing centre back with short movements who’s aggressive and aerially inclined.
2. Mezut Ozil
Mezut started his club career for FC Schalke and Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. He’s an attacking midfielder and has 1 goal in the Champions League and 2 goals/3assists in La Liga. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger and teams up nicely with Cristiano Ronaldo up top. He was brought over because he’s a German national stand out (21 appearances and only 22 years old) and had a tremendous World Cup showing. He was one of ten nominations for the golden ball in the ‘10 World Cup. He always has his nose around the goal and is known for his ball handling abilities, deft touches and crosses, and aerial abilities.
3. Angel Di Maria
The feisty Argentine National team player who starred for Benfica is known for his brilliant moves on the wing and has double digit shot totals. He’s a wide winger who has already made an impact scoring 2 fantastic La Liga goals.
4. Sami Khedira
He’s a Midfielder and German National teamer and has been a mostly solid replacement for Xabi Alonso. The former Stuttgart man is physical, aggressive, and seems to understand Mourinho’s tactical approach. If he and Ozil can continue to improve their English and Spanish to communicate better on the pitch with their teammates, his success will continue just like it did when he scored the game-winning header in a 3-2 win against Uruguay in the 3rd place play-off match in the ’10 World Cup.
5. Pedro Leon
The Murcia-raised talent played on Murcia, Valladolid, Levante, and Getafe before his Madrid call. He did feud with Mourinho initially and was left off the squad for a few matches but the conflict seems to have been resolved. His natural winger skills and ability to draw fouls makes him a valuable late substitute against difficult teams.