GALACTICOS NO MORE
No ‘undecima’ this season for Real Madrid, and they have no one to blame but themselves, but which galactico/s in particular failed to shine?
It all started so well for Real earlier in the season. Fresh off winning ‘La Decima’, they went on a 22 game winning romp before Christmas, winning the Club World Cup in the process. All was rosy then, on top of the league and on course for a treble. However, the honeymoon ended, like they always do. Since then, they were dumped out of the Copa del Rey, overtaken by Barcelona in La Liga, and lastly, dumped out of the Champions League by Juventus.
All those happy memories of the past year seemed so far away right now, such is the ruthlessness of the Madrid fans. So demanding are they of their team, that only continued success can satisfy them. Some may call them one of the most ungrateful fans in the world, forgetting what their team had achieved, and ruthlessly despatching those who were heroes to them just this past year. And this ruthlessness also runs up the chain of command at the Bernabeu. Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, will certainly not tolerate this failure and major changes are expected in the summer.
But, lets not get carried away. Despite out of the running on all 3 fronts this season, the season itself has yet to end. Which means that a season review on what went wrong for Real Madrid this season will be touched later when the season ends. For now, we are going to focus on the scapegoats that will be vilified by fans and Madrid’s media alike based on their performances over the against Juventus. Without further ado:
- Iker Casillas
This may be a bit harsh, considering the crucial saves he made in the match, but one can only wonder if he could’ve done much better with that Morata shot. He got hands to it but it was a weak enough contact to actually prevent the shot. The Casillas of old might have been able to pull off a magnificent save but then again, that Casillas is a thing of the past now. He still holds sway with the Madrid fans and media, but that could change after this, especially with David de Gea casting a shadow for the no.1 spot should he make the move in the summer.
2. Gareth Bale
Everybody’s favorite scapegoat right now, the misfiring almost to the point of non-existing on the pitch, the 100 million euro man Gareth Bale is of course, again, the scapegoat in this match. Maybe non-existing is a bit harsh, he did have a couple of shots, oh wait, never mind. Missed chances, indecisions of whether to pass or to shoot continues to plague Gareth Bale in this match. Its been his story so far this season, at least since after christmas. Add to a Madrid media hell-bent on criticizing the confidence out of him, and we have a very expensive problem for Real Madrid. Pity, he was so revered after last season’s exploit, one of the heroes in ‘La Decima’, the fans and media have quickly turned on him this season. How a lean patch can plummet one’s stock in the Spanish capital.
3. Carlo Ancelotti
Sure, he is not in the playing XI, but he is the man most responsible for Real’s failure to overcome Juventus. Tactical errors abound, notwithstanding the Sergio Ramos in a midfield error in the first leg. Arguments can be made for a lot of his choices. Lets consider that Madrid go with the usual 4–3–3. Gareth Bale could have been on the bench with James Rodriguez or Isco playing in his position. Pepe could play the midfield destroyer role, a position he’s played before, which makes the Ramos choice in the first leg baffling. This will allow Kroos a bit more freedom from his defensive duties and feed either Isco or James and the front 3, strutting their usual stuff in attack. Which brings me to the most basic but important aspect of the match, substitutions. Ancelotti only made one substitution in the match, Javier Hernandez for Karim Benzema. This was baffling indeed as Real are supposed to score 2 more goals to advance to the finals without going to extra time. Instead, Ancelotti only made one substitution. One could question the ambition of the manager to actually try to at least fight for the victory instead of just riding it out into the sunset. To call it naivety is an injustice as Ancelotti is a very experienced manager, who wins trophies too. Yet, he didn’t use the subs to his advantage. If we consider the tactics I proposed earlier, with Bale on the bench, Ancelotti would have been able to use all 3 of his subs, including Hernandez and maybe throw in Jese into the attack as well. Even if we proceed with the actual match tactics, the inability to use all 3 subs, in a situation where Real must win and score 2 more goals at least, should be considered a travesty and an insult to the winning mentality deeply ingrained in the whole of Real Madrid’s institution. Surely, this oversight will not be overlooked by the powers that be, the fans and the media alike and Carlo Ancelotti should take full responsibility for it.
It is quite sad to pick scapegoats from, on paper, a very formidable side, capable of winning everything. At a club as demanding as Real Madrid, success is everything, and anyone who fails, will be cast aside. Call it ruthless, call it ungrateful, it’s just business at Real Madrid, and that business, is winning trophies galore. In truth, considering soccer is a team game, the whole team should be held responsible, but, it would be unfair for those who actually performed their hearts out, take Marcelo for example. Therefore, labels like scapegoats/culprits or however you call it, are inevitable. Its a shame too, that almost the same personnel won ‘La Decima’ for the team last season, but that’s just Real Madrid for you.
Writer’s note: Just want to clarify things up a bit. I am by no means a Real Madrid supporter or Juventus supporter or Barcelona and Atletico Madrid supporter (for those conspiracy theorists). I am a neutral and love the game of soccer/football. I am passionate about it, hence some powerful or scathing or lame criticisms(based on one’s perspective). Feel free to comment or reply or engage in civilized discourse on this article or through my twitter @r4ryandean. ;)