Thursday, February 26, 2009

Real Madrid Vs Liverpool (post match review)

Posted by Paulo Martin,Spain

Real Madrid returned to cruel reality. Europe rejects us.We are on the verge of yet another early elimination from the champions league, the teams favorite competition, a team that came out of the Liverpool clash hurt and wounded mentally. The optimistic signs from our last few matches vanished in a heartbeat. Real Madrid didn't play well, and it didn't have its recent epic heroic attitude either. We were overcome by our adversary that was correct and played by the book: they were well positioned, they played with serenity and waited for there moment. They had a plan. Real Madrid didn't.
The insulting superiority of Xabi Alonso & Mascherano in the midfield was decisive. Each one in his element, they played with authority, the authority that Gago and Lass lacked. Liverpool's advantage in that department was obvious, but Juande Ramos failed to see it. After half time he changed Marcelo for Guti and he never looked to the bench again. The team needed something else, an intrepid moment, an epic heroic moment, anything that would change the dynamic of the match. But nothing. Real Madrid continued the same, which was in mediocrity, doing nothing.
Nobody after the match felt that they had seen a great brilliant Liverpool, in fact at times it felt like Liverpool were only playing at 60% of there capacity. They done what they set out to do, without any brilliance or showing off, with hard work and the firm conviction that they would get a result, the conviction that Real Madrid lacked. It was a professional job, without Gerrard in the team and with a defisient Torres who was clearly not pysically fit to keep playing. All those circumstances add more motives to be worried for Real Madrid. The loss was poor, the play was dishearting. The possibility of yet another early elimination in 1/8 looks close. It look slike we are only capable of competing at a domestic level and nothing more.
The Bernabeu looked fantastic with a full house, a typical european night game. Two classic teams that faced each other for the first time in Madrid. All the ingredients were there for an intense european classic. The reality however was totally different. Liverpool closed down the match and cooled the game off, the Bernabeu seemed to be mesmerized by this and slowly feel into the same trap as the team did and wasnt the Bernabeu that the team and everyone else expected. The fans were almost silent all match and the atmosphere of yesteryears was sorely missed. They seemed locked in melacholy and quickly realised that the team had no real chance. The defensive work by Liverpool was very efficient. Nobody comitted any errors, they were very comfortable, so comfortable that Reina seemed to have a very easy night. The only real threat for him all night was a long range shot by Robben. That was pretty much all of Real Madrid`s offensive display yesterday night. The team nearly entered Liverpool`s box. But thats very hard to do when you dont have a player to feed balls to the strikers. The only thing left was the epic herioic victory. Sometimes there isnt anything you can do except try for the epic heroic win. But that didnt happen either. The team was riggid  and stuck and it needed something to break that state. But we didnt find anything to do that. We were a bland team from the get go.
It was surprising to see Juande Ramos`s defensive side. Especially in a match which was the most important of all since his arrival. A match that could have made of broke his career at the club. If Real Madrid is finally knocked out of europe in the 1/8 finals then he`ll have no chance of staying on as manager next year. He kept Heinze on despite the objections of the fans, he persisted with the Lass and Gago tandem in the midfield when they didnt offer any rigor defensively nor offensively. Its one or the other. Neither of them offer what the team needs in the midfield and least of all in europe. Just like the fans the manager also was infected by a certain air of melancholy.
The match was ran by Xabi Alonso and Mascherano. One beacuse he plays like all great center midfielders and dominates all aspects of hid craft. The other is like a human vacum that sucks up all the lost balls and wins all the challenges. They left no doubt over there superiority and authority in the match. Xabi Alonso played like someone who is clearly at the top of his game and in the prime of his career. He consegrated his epic game with a magnificent 55 yard shot that came very close to surprising Casillas. The keeper had to pull off a wonder save to what would have been the goal of the season in the champions league. Only Casillas and Pepe were there usual selves. One making epic saves and the other putting out fires all over the back line and keeping a weak Torres in his pocket all game. Both areas seemed vetoed by the defenders and Raul and Higuain passed almost testimonially in the game. Robben was below par and only offered a few sparks of greatness but he never shwed real conviction in what he was doing.
The fans were infuriated int he second half. And they ended up being more infuriated when Liverpool scored. Heinze commited an unnesiseray foul near the edge of the box.
Benayoun, who was alone and has never been a good headerer of the ball or good in the air anticipated himself and scored the only goal of the night. The markings in the corner were not clear and Higuain and Gago were left confused and not marking anyone. A big error for two of the clubs young stars. There was almost 10 minutes left.The English fans erupted in estacy after tha goal. The Fondo Sur where the Ultra Sur are acomodated started misbehaving as always and had various incidents with the clubs security and with one another fighting between each other. The Ultra Sur who the ex president Calderon defended on many ocassions and still inexplicably allowed to enter the club and are still reciving preferential treatment by Boluda. The police had to intervine and more fights broke out but luckly it didnt not escelate more and from then on nobody payed much more attention to the game. There was nothing else to see or tell. Real Madrid had once again sunk in europe.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Year of Dramas & Emotions in UCL

Posted by: Suresh J V, India

Every year even the most ardent League fans await the start of Champions League Knockout stages. In the end of December the men are separated from boys and the real men start fighting it out in February for the top honors and opportunity to climb to the summit of footballing pinnacle. Champion’s league knockout stage comes with its own oomph factor and usual razzmatazz; however this year certain personal conflicts & reasons will upstage the usual glamor. Let us look at a couple of those here.

Return of the Bogey Man
The match between Manchester United & Inter Milan is not just about two league leaders from Serie A & BPL are trying to deliver a knock out punch to the other. It’s not even about the defending champs and wanna be champs trying to muscle the other into submission. This year’s knock fixture is more than mere football; it’s all about clash of two personalities who set the footballing stage on fire every time when they faced each other. Yes it’s a clash between “Sir Alex Ferguson” & the “Special One – Jose Mourinho”. If Alex has to pick out one manager whom he wouldn’t like to face off in this UCL at least not in the first knock stage, it has to be Jose. Guess what! It’s Alex Vs Jose yet again. Jose has been Alex’s nemesis and bogey man from his coaching days dating way back to FC Porto. Jose is one of the very managers who enjoy’s a better head to head record over Alex. This is going to be one humdinger of a contest from the touch line to watch.

Return of the Prodigies
Real Madrid & Liverpool have the most enviable history in the European club football. They are two most successful European clubs in the history. Among themselves they share a mind numbing 14 European crowns. The last time these two clubs’s met was in 1981 European cup finals which Liverpool won and broke many hearts in the city of Madrid. However this year’s tie is not all about these two titans facing off against each other, but also the return of two prodigies back to city of Madrid.
Rafael Benitez the coach of Liverpool has brought glory back to Liverpool. He has managed to take Liverpool into the finals of champion’s league twice in the last few years and managing to win one in the most dramatic fashion. Benitez is considered as one of the best active football manager and no one will doubt his credentials. Liverpool has always been able to pull more weight under Rafa while playing in UCL. As every story has a start, Rafa story starts in Real Madrid. Rafa was a player and started learning the tricks of coaching with Real Madrid Youth team. Since then Rafa has gone on to achieve bigger things, however he still cherishes and fondly remembers his days in Real Madrid. He still sees himself coaching Real Madrid, if the opportunity presents itself. This is a home coming for Rafa and he surely wants to make this one count.
In Fernando Torres, the Kops have one of the most lethal striker in Europe. The “El Nino – Torres” is capable of turning any defense upside down. He is one of the very few players who Real Madrid would have loved to see playing for them instead of the other Madrid team. Fernando Torres started with Atletico Madrid and soon he established himself as the best striker in La Liga. Even with all his reputation and achievements till date, Torres still feels sad for not being able to have a telling impact against his old cross town rival Real Madrid. He seems to be heart broken for not being able to produce his best in Santiago Bernabeu the “Mecca of Club Football”. Now Torres has the opportunity to put his demons to rest when he tee’s off against Real Madrid. Will he let his demons ride him once again or will he conquer them is a contest worth watching, if you are not interested in the history of these clubs.

Pay Back Time
Chelsea Vs Juventus is not just about the clash between two footballing giants but it’s also a homecoming of sorts to Juve’s coach Claudio Ranneri. It’s was who started the Chelsea revolution with the bankrolling from Roman Abramovich. After a season working with Ranneri the club owner Abramovich thought Ranneri isn’t exactly kind of person who will be able to take Chelsea to the pinnacle and this resulted in Ranneri getting booted out and rest as we say is history. Now as head coach of Juventus, Ranneri has the opportunity to pay back to his past employer Roman Abramovich. With Chelsea in tatters after the sacking of Scolari, Ranneri may not find a better opportunity to extract his revenge. Will Ranneri earn his redemption? Only time will tell.

Buy Me Babe!!!
Karim Benzema is one of the hottest young talents in Europe. Many consider Karim Benzema’s decision to stay with Lyon for one more season was a miracle of sorts performed by Lyon president, when so many big European clubs were fighting for his service. Barcelona was one of the top club’s trying to sign him at the end of last season and Benzema will not have a better opportunity to show his talent and argue the case in his favor, when he faces Barcelona in Nou Camp. Will this match be a prelude of what this guy is capable off?

This season with all these showdowns, their are many who are in verge of a home coming, seeking redemption, trying to settle scores & or simply trying being the best. With all these emotions and reasons, we as spectators are really spoilt for choice.

Hala Madrid

Monday, February 23, 2009

Goals galore on a SIXY night

Posted by Shibarjun Ghosh, India
        Quite a hectic day it was shuttling between two rooms. Real Madrid vs Betis on my PC and on the other room the Barcelona derby being shown on  the TV. Story of two halves I should say…the first one being a typical exhibition of Real Madrid's attacking flair football in which six goals were scored but in the other half the happenings at the Camp Nou took precedence. Former Barca discard Ivan de la Pena scored twice against 10 men Barca to send the 80,000 strong Bernabeu faithfuls into ruptures and silencing their more illustrious cross town rivals. Tables were starting to turn and memories from the past were coming to haunt them when two years earlier Raul Tamudo scored very late in the Catalunian derby to spoil Barca's chances of catching up with Real when the latter drew 2-2 at the La Romereda against the now relegated Zaragoza as the Capello led Real Madrid turned around the league on its head and completed the most incredible comebacks in the history of La Liga.
            A lead of 12 points have been cut to 7 in a space of two weeks as Real Madrid surge forward in their quest for their 32nd la liga title.There is no denying the fact that Madrid has been in their hottest streaks ever in their recent history,winning 10 games out of the 11 played under the new manager Junade Ramos.
              The floodgates opened at the 7th min when Argentinian hitman Higuain danced his way around Betis defense to put the ball in the back of the net. Huntelaar  followed suit with two goals of his own, although both were from rebounds .. but it was a Klass act to say the least.
                  Ricardo Oliviera did something which he could not do last year with Zaragoza…ie beat San Iker at the Bernabeu. Pulling back one for the Balompies didn't help their cause much because 35 mins into the clock started The Raul Gonzalez Show. Two goals in the space of 7 mins for El Siete brought the Bernabeu to their feet and Paco Chaparro at his wits end. The first one being a scorcher for which Ricardo had no answer and the second one being his typical trademark which had Raul Gonzalez written all over it. Collecting a pass from Gago, El Capitan showed immense cool that would even put a refrigerator to shame and lobbed the ball safely home much to the dismay of Ricardo and the entire Betis backline.
                      Sergio Ramos was not to be left behind. After assisting hunter for his second , this time it was his own turn to find a mention on the score sheet. A flying header from a Heinze free kick did it for him .It wasn't even half time and Real Betis had been hit for a six .
                          The second half had no more of the free scoring flair run that had resulted in six goals in the first half.Guti,Snjeider and Robben all got minutes under their belt ahead of the Liverpool match as Juande Ramos decided to consolidate the defence. But by then news had started filtering in that de la Pena had struck against 10 man Barca. Madrisimos on Orkut chat room forums went beserk .Just as when we thought it cant get better …the improbable happened again…de la Pena scored again. YES…lightning did strike twice. The Bernabeu blew its lid. It was a double treat for all of us. The 80,000 Madrisimos  at the Bernabeu and a million more all across the world. Delirium turned to nervousness when Yayah Toure leveled one back for the Balugranas . but Sergio Sanchez and co held the backline very well and saw Espanyol through the rest of the match.
                              The once untouchables Barcelona are just 7 points ahead with the El Classico still to be played at the Bernabeu….but for now its not about  Barcelona…….Bring on Liverpool.

                              Friday, February 20, 2009

                              White or Red - who is going to join the whine club?

                              Posted by A Spaniard in the works,India

                              I must admit this is a preemptive strike on something that we have all been waiting for. As a teetotaler, I have no authority as my article's title would suggest, but I could not resist the temptation of a cheesy opening line. My apologies. The game is question is the one between us, Real Madrid and Liverpool- a double head to head fought over two legs ( similarities of the phrase with the game of football is purely intentional). I would like to draw attention to one of the most significant historical events and its rammifications in my motherland, India. This happened in 1805. For the people who slept through history class just like me, I am referring to the Battle of Trafalgar ( More on why this significant later.

                              Real's tryst with the unreal tournament:
                              Real have been the fastest off the starting blocks with respect to the European cup. Five consecutive cups in the 50's with a team comprising of perhaps football's first international superstar, Alfredo di Stefano meant that the rolling trophy gathered plenty of moss in our cabinet. Unfortunately, we have been doing badly of late. Our problem lies in our inability to get past scrappy teams. In 2004 season, the teams shifted to a knockout phase after the initial group phases which reduced the number of matches by four. And that's where a mercurial side like Real Madrid has problems. If we have a look at our history, it is common knowledge that we have never been relegated and our worst position in the Liga has been 11th out of 14 teams in a particular season. If we have a look at knockout competitions, it is where the smaller teams have a better chance of beating the big guns. A league phase tends to normalize results week in week out and it just is an indicator of a team's cumulative performance throughout a season. That is why you see how small teams end up upsatging fancy rivals in the FA cup. And that's precisely how it is romanticized in England. A neutral would always support an underdog. In the last five years, we have been very unlucky. We have faced Bayern twice, Arsenal, Juventus and Roma. We have never had the luck of the draw like how Milan has had plenty of times ( I have lost count of the number of times they played Celtic). But as the cliche goes, if we have to win a competition, we have to beat everybody. Thankfully, this year has not been a typical one after a winter break where we have shown holiday hangovers. A defeat at this stage of the competition and that too with a depleted squad would only mean adding insult to injury. We have been flirting with the lower end of the UEFA coefficients for quite a while and also, Spanish clubs not doing to well only compounds the problem (It is also dependent on how other teams from your league do in the continental competition). I am not a fan of this knockout garbage because it only lets in a below par team to the quarters (Fen vs Chelsea last year) due to them typically benefitting from the draw. If it were upto me, I would form a superleague with Europe's elite, but we all know pigs would fly on the day this happens. We need to do well in the competition so that we are atleast the top seeds in our pot in the following years. I will be happy if we can make it to the semifinals on a consistent basis.

                              Our honourable opponents:
                              I am not a fan of Liverpool. They did set the stage on fire in the late 80's but that's about it. They have only challenged for the EPL ever since and done decently in the UCL (much better than us in the last four years) in the recent history of the tournament. I don't like it that most English commentators have grown up watching Liverpool play in that victorious era and that they have to heap that upon us with biased commentary. Atleast that is the image that I get sitting in my sofa in front of my TV. One look at the UCL telecast preferences only reinforces this. I have got tired of listening to trivia about "You'll never walk alone" or the more abused "Kop end" phrase. Especially when all these years they have been drawing at home to teams like Stoke. They have done much better this year. They were in the reckoning for the league and now, like us have to lick their wounds and hope that Europe turns out to be a happy hunting ground. They have two world class players in Torres and Gerrard and some good first team players as well. They play a long ball game more often than not and I have no idea as to how the headless chicken Kuyt finds his way into the team on a consistent basis. Why am I getting into a fistfight with them? I'll concentrate on the task in hand. Demanding football schedules have meant that teams have pretty much taken their foot off the pedal domestically. In the last few years, only Barcelona and Manchester United have won UCL the way it should be won- after winning the league. It hurts me when I see teams comfortably finishing fourth in the league and then pocketing the UCL. Something has to be done in this regard.

                              How do we succeed in Europe?
                              Pure attack rarely wins titles in Europe. More often than not, when a scrappy team faces a attack minded team, it is the defensive one that goes through as we have learnt the hard way. In a low scoring game like football, tactics and strategy are of utmost importance. Even when the marauding Barcelona did the grind after they went past Chelsea in 2006.

                              Why did I choose to drop in a reference to the battle of Trafalgar earlier? The Spanish armada were one of the most feared navy forces in Europe. In fact, their defeat by the English navy paved the way for the East India company to establish a huge Indian base. One look at the TV programming in India just shows the step motherly treatment that the La Liga gets compared to the "greatest show on earth". TV revenues dwarf all other sources of income by sheer volume. In a way, this match is our opportunity to showcase our superiority over them on a global stage. This would only make the foray of Spanish la Liga into India/ Asia much easier- much like how the European forefathers wanted to establish a base a long time ago. Admiral Nelson did the improbable by not being orthodox in tactics. And that is where we have to learn from history. Liverpool fight as a team and this is where we have to break them. We have been experimenting with the long ball for some time now and what we seemed to have improved upon is effective counter attacking. Instead of an all out assault on Liverpool, we have to keep the ball away from their midfield. We have to reorganize our team into an offensive and defensive units- we attack in fours and defend in sixes- these must be our mininum numbers. As they are going to play Kuyt, we have to play Marcelo in the left back position as Kuyt will not be a major threat. The moment Liverpool splits as a team, they struggle to start attacks and resort to long balls- a tactic that will play into our hands. Capello had masterminded an offside trap with the forwards two seasons back. Essentially, then, one of the three- RVN, Raul and Robinho would stray offside but would not be involved in the passage of play. The defence would switch off and what was sold was a dummy with the offside character coming as a guest star later on to provide a deadly touch/ pass when onside. If you were the opposition team, it was like watching a horror movie- you think its all over and then a hand comes out of the ground! This is something that we have to resort to unsettle the defence- especially which is not too quick. If not anything, it will draw a couple of them out of their positions and only confuse them more. Defending set pieces have always been our weakest link and special attention has to be paid to that. I expect Torres to fail and Gerrard will not be in full fitness. I expect Benitez to field a 4-5-1 for both the legs. A score of two nil or more would be ideal. In the reverse fixture, we have to hold nerve- something that we have failed to do so for quite some time. This is our key to success. Hopefully, it does not cost us an arm and a leg, like Admiral Nelson.

                              Parting shot:
                              Here is my suggestion to neutralize the crowd in the second leg. I hope somebody sees this and uses it.

                              YOU GUYS SHOULD KNOW BETTER ENGLISH!

                              Hala Madrid

                              Sunday, February 15, 2009

                              Wine Women and Raul

                              Posted by Shibarjun Ghosh,India

                              "Its Raul and its goallllllllllllll…."shouts Andy Gray in his typically enthusiastic way for the 309thtime.

                              A record breaker just 15 minutes into the match and 76 minutes into the clock he is a record maker….welcome the new all time highest goal scorer for Real Madrid..Raul Gonzales Blanco. Overtaking Don Alfredo di Stefano's record is a monumental task…and special tasks calls for special men….the son of Madrid, the paragon of the club and a beacon of hope for all Madrid enthusiasts for 15 years. Raul has been a true ambassador for the club since the tender age of  17, ever since he broke into the first team from real Madrid C after a flurry of 16 goals in 7 matches and a recommendation from a certain Rafael Benitez..


                              It all started at the La Romareda on 29th October 1994,Jorge Valdano (the then Real Madrid manager) brought on the young Raul infront of 35,000 hostile Zaragoza fans. He surely did have baptism with fire on his first night out with the first team. He did not score until his next match in the fiery Madrid derby against cross town rivals Athletico Madrid, but since then goals have been coming in plenty for him.15 years, 2 Pchichi, 6 la Liga , 4 super copa, 3 champions league, 2 inter continnental cups and 1 uefa Super Cup later he still have enough fire in his belly to match the hunger in his eyes.


                              A true gentelman to the core he embodies every value that the club is known for…hard work, commitment, team spirit, resilience, determination, professionalism, loyalty, passion and honesty. If u don't love him u surely have to respect him.. there are no two ways about that, something even hardcore Camp Nou faithfuls in Catalunya heartland  won't contradict.


                              "Who ever wears the "el siete" will play on winged feet" is said among the Bernabeu faithfuls….and Raul certainly have lived up to the standard set by the former greats who had donned the famous shirt.

                              Only the fourth player  in 40 years after the legendary Amancio , Juanito and Butragueno to wear the magical "el siete" no 7 shirt….Raul certainly has not only lived up to their reputation but has also raised the bar for future generations to follow. The living legend and a part of the Madrid folklore La Quinta del Butir,Emilo Butragueno says "Raul is an obvious example of what a Real Madrid player should be.He is an exemplary sportsman who upholds many values of Alfredo di Stefano..he is fighter who never gives up...these are qualities which are attibuted to Real Madrid."

                              15 years on, at the age of 31 years he certainly is not at the prime of his form but he has the truckloads of dedication to make up for it. From spending hours in specially installed oxygen chambers in his room to working out late hours in the Veldabebas , he does it all to stay fit and not being injured in the last two years is enough testimony to his dedication and resilience. Just as when he has been written off he has come on and scored goals, won matches, won trophies and conquered frontiers…a habit he is finding hard to shake off.


                              Raul  has been a perfect ambassador not only of Real Madrid club but also Spanish and World football. Along with Ryan Giggs ,Paul Scholes , Paulo Maldini, Francesco Totti , Raul has been a rare specie of the "One man one club" group…something that is very hard to come by across in the cash rich football business where mercenaries rules the roost and loyalties change overnight over sacks of money. A role model for every youngster aspiring to make it big in the footballing world Raul is dignity and dedication personified.


                              Thank you Raul Gonzalez Blanco…you're the true mascot of not only Real Madrid football club or Castilla or Spain or world football but also of hardwork, dedication, dignity, resilience and character.And with time you are simply getting better.

                              "Wine and women get better with age"...they say.Its time we add Raul Gonzalo Blanco's name to that list.


                              Vamos El Capitan.

                              hala madrid


                              Vision for a SurReal Madrid

                              Posted by A Spaniard in the works,India

                              What sequence would describe our team right this season? A sudden purple patch (Violet and Indigo)? A case of the blues when Schuster was on the way out? Green with envy at how our eternal rivals Barcelona are doing right now? Or is it a case of the necessary evil- yellow journalism - that keeps us hooked all year long? An orange contingent that is ever expanding? Or is it being red faced that our sporting director does not have an IQ of an igneous rock? The answer my friends, lies in the combination of all of them. Please forgive my geeky reference to VIBGYOR []. As I am a research student by profession, this fetish for comparision is almost an occupational hazard. As my friends in the highly active Orkut community might have found out the hard way, this is an indication of a really long post. I apologize in advance. As I said, the answer is in the combination of all of them- White- hopefully thats the colour of our opponent's flag at Rome at the  end of the season. This post is going to deal with a lot of issues that are very close to our hearts- the short and long term plans of our beloved club.

                              I have been a fan of Real right from 1998, the season that we reclaimed the Champions league after such a long wait. I started off as any fan would, reading newspapers and memorizing popular players' names and of course, I won't forget the lack of TV and newspaper coverage for non cricket sports in India. The internet was still in its diapers. Football came as a breath of fresh air to me as it seemed as the perfect amalgam of the individual and team talents. I was still the fan who used to pronounce Julio with a "J" and Sevilla with the "L" just like some of the sport reporters do in many Indian news channels today! That was the time when English clubs (with the exception of Manchester United) were being massacred by continental oppostion and jokes like:
                              Q: What is common to Arsenal (or any other English club) and a 3 pin plug?
                              A: They are both useless in Europe!
                              were doing the rounds. It is quite natural for a teenager growing up to lap up a winning team. And that's exactly what I did. My team were Real Madrid. The lord of all creation. Hell, watching one of their matches was equivalent of foreplay. The basic notion of "I will win by scoring one goal more than you" seemed perfectly fine. Staying up late night to watch these wonderful footballers play supreme football  seemed totally worth it. And that, battling against rules of the house. It was a crime to be nocturnal. And, "Did you check that goal scored by ....." did not make pretty classroom conversation either. Atleast not the kind that seemed to be cool at that point of time.

                              Fast forward to four years down the road, Real were at the pinnacle in 2002. We had the  maximum number of UCL titles, Ligas and a lot of players were winning the world player of the year as well. We were doing not too bad in terms of the money scenario. We were also called the Club of the 20th century by an overwhelming margin. This is our legacy. But, if we have to be called the club team of the 21st century as well, we are behind many teams. We have won a handful of competitions and one look at the UEFA coefficients show that we have been living in the glory of the past. It is time for introspection and effort to ensure that Real will be spoken of and remembered in a way that we fans believe would be most appropriate for our club.

                              These are the topics that I feel should be up for discussion. Of course, they are by no means exhaustive. I believe that these should hog the blog (another tabloid headline!) for some time:

                              1) Financial vision- where is the money coming from? Transfer policy and signings for the next season
                              2) The power of perception- what the club should represent in terms of vibes, attitude and footballing philosophies
                              3) Competitions and our approach to them, Football strategies and playing by the rules.
                              4) The heavy weight clashbetween Real and Liverpool.
                              5) How to introduce and popularize the game in India.

                              I will make a sincere attempt to address some of these issues in the days to come. I also invite fellow madridistas to contribute. 

                              Hala Madrid!

                              Saturday, February 7, 2009

                              Castilla blues

                              Posted by Paulo Martin,Spain

                              A shot to the heart
                              The recent signing of the unknown french player for Real Madrid is a shot to the heart for the clubs youth system and it produces more perplexity than satisfaction.
                              Real Madrid has signed Julien Faubert. We know he`s french, he`s 25 years old, he plays down the right and he comes on loan from West Ham. It used to be the opposite. A young player, someone who was dis-satisfied would arrive at a bottom of the table team, or a team that was playing in second division looking to be promoted. But Real Madrid has forgotten the priorities that define the club a long time ago. Its world renowned prestige, its obligation to sign the worlds best players, and its necessity to protect and groom its youth system. Fauberts arrival venerates all those basic priorities.
                              In the last two years, various ex Real Madrid players have become indispensable key players in their respective teams. Few times has the world of football seen such a monumental cock-up and such an absence of precision to calibrate the talent of our youth players.
                              De La Red had become an international player and was called up for the EURO`s while playing at Getafe after we had sold him. Now Mata and Negredo, look like having the same destiny, both players were sold/left the club and are being seriously considered for international duty also. Two players that force one to ask himself what sort of value system does our youth system have ? Lets say there places are occupied by Drenthe & Huntelaar, who`s collective price is 40m euros. One of them we already now what he has offered, nothing, the other looks like going the same way.
                              Real Madrid is determined in working for other clubs and buying poorly and expensively. In the last two and half years, the club has spent 300m euros,
                              an amount that is just astonishing and scary. The actual administration seems determined to lower the clubs prestige. As hard as this sounds to the fans,
                              the clubs actual position in world football isn't what it used to be.
                              Faubert is a symptom of all this absurdity. He hasn't been a regular starting player in his club, a mediocre club. The glory days of West Ham are well behind them, at least 40 years behind them when the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters left the club. Since then its been a club with a fantastic youth system producing such players as Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick among others.Faubert belongs among the large list of almost anonymous players who have done nothing at West Ham. Despite all that we have decided to accommodate him.
                              THE CONTRADICTION Fauberts case touches a sensitive nerve in the institution and among the fans. The youth system has received a devastating message from the club. In few teams does such a distance produce its self between the reality of whats happened and the signals the clubs emits.Real Madrid`s youth system is the most generous in Spain, in terms of forming and developing quality players as well as their form after in other clubs. Despite all this the perception inside the club seems that none of the players are ready to play for Real Madrid.
                              The fans assist perplexed at this massive contradiction. They don't understand how we can spend a fortune on players like Van Der Vaart, Drenthe or Huntelaar and how we can ignore our youth on temporary players such as Faubert. Its a shot to the heart for the youth system and possibly to a team that's core are players such as Raul, Casillas and Guti. Far from promoting its closeness and identity through its factory of youth players, Real Madrid is hellbent in signing expensive mediocre players who will never leave there mark at the club.
                              Its a way of asking yourself, what does this Ream Madrid want ?. Nobody knows.

                                                               Negredo,Granero,de la Red.......where did it all go wrong? 

                              Jonarda 22:Real Madrid Vs Racing Santander( Match Preview )

                              Posted by Paulo Martin,Spain

                              IF`S AND BUT`S
                              Crucial game ?
                              So we play Racing this weekend, a game that could prove to be more important than you may think. FC Barcelona have various defenders missing and played an important cup match midweek which could cause them to drop points, ok its unexpected especially at the Camp Nou but its possible and especially against such a tricky team as Sporting Gijon who don't know how to play for a draw.
                              We on the other hand have almost a full squad except for Gago who will miss this match against Racing. Racing also have Pedro Munitis missing due to 5 yellows. Munitis is a key player for Racing seeing as he`s the captain and motivates the team to the full, also he forms a great partnership with Zigic and Jonatan Perreria. His electric runs will surely be missed by the Racing faithfuls. Our defence will have to keep a close eye on Zigic, the big man is on form as of late and is really starting to look like the great Zigic of yesteryear. Knowing how much our defence suffers against tall men we should maintain ourselves fully alert. I assume Pepe will keep tabs on Zigic not letting him receive a ball, especially not in the box. He`ll be a constant threat in area balls also. We shouldn't ignore Jonathan Perreria either, he may be small but he`s certainly talented and extremely fast so Cannavaro will have to have his wits about him.
                              Racing is a very quick team on the counter and has two great wide-men like Oscar Serrano and the previously mentioned Munitis who both have pace and more importantly great crossing ability.
                              Lass`s partner
                              Also interesting will be who Jaunde pairs Lass with in the midfield. I assume Gago`s replacement will be Sneijder playing deeper than normal (if Juande continues with his flat 4-4-2) and coming into more contact with the ball, just he needs really to boost his level of confidence. Juande could also play a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Lass playing the holding role on his own and having an attacking midfielder just behind the strikers but knowing Juande i don't see him doing this, he`ll stick with whats been working and we`ll see Sneijder playing deeper. Another option would be to field Parejo as Lass is partner but i think Dani isnt fully fit to play from the start and he not make the cut.
                              Another question is weather Faubert will make his debut on the right wing or would Juande opt for playing Van Der Vaar in the team either as an attacking mid with Sneijder on the left or with Sneijder int he middle and as Van Der Vaart as a winger. Personally id like to see Juande stick with his flat 4-4-2 and play with Faubert - Lass - Sneijder - Robben. All this is providing Robben actually starts considering the poor guy has had the flu all week, it`ll go down to the wire i think. Everything changes if Robben doesnt start, we could see Higuain on the right and Huntelaar upfront, or Faubert on the right, Van Der Vaart on the left and Sneijder in the middle or visa-versa. I think it would be interesting to see how we fair without Robben playing, at least not from the start. Id like to see the teams offensive capacity without the flying dutchman.
                              Will the Bernabeu get to see Garay ? Your guess is as good as mine considering Muñiz hasn't really been counting much with Garay this season for reasons which escape me.
                              The Raul factor
                              On another note can the great Raul score his 308 th goal and beat the great Alfredo Di Stefano`s record ?

                              Friday, February 6, 2009

                              An Atletico Man who chased a REAL Dream

                              posted by-suresh J V,India

                              Raul Gonzalez Blanco, This is one name which immediately touches chord with millions of Madridista's all around the world. This is one name which single handedly bought pride and spot light like back to Real Madrid at start of this century. This is one name which always get's spoken along with the greats like De Stefano, Puskas, Gento's and others who played there best for Real Madrid.  Raul Gonzalez Blanco who has been revered, as icon and pride of Real Madrid would not have been one, if he did not join Real Madrid after certain Jesus Gil the once president of Atletico Madrid decided to scrap Atletico's youth system where Raul was getting ready to dawn the colors of Rojiblancos. Atletico later found out that arguably this was their greatest gift ever to their cross town rival's.

                                                 Raul was born into a humble working class family, whose head was a passionate supporter of Atletico Madrid. His father might have felt the pain rip through his heart, when he saw his son play for Real Madrid and not for his beloved Atletico, but such was the passion and dedication, Raul had for Real Madrid that no one ever mentioned or questioned his Atletico roots with cynicism. Raul was a boy when he first played for Real Madrid. Playing along with the idols like Butragueño, Michel, Zamorano, Redondo, Sanchis and Buyo would have overwhelmed many, but not Raul. In fact playing along with his idols spurred him and made him the legend he is today.  Raul true to his commitment has reminded a single club man even though he commanded the highest transfer fee's in peak of his powers. Raul's commitment to the club was unparalleled even when he was chased and haunted by many multi million transfer offers, that no one in the club lost sleep even for a day with the prospect of loosing there most prized asset looming large.

                                                Raul is respected all around the world not just for his footballing skills, but for his passion, commitment and outstanding behavior. Raul stands as a beacon in the world of football which is losing its sheen and slowly been taken over by football playing thugs, who don't mind slugging it out in a pub after their day's game. Not receiving a single red card in entire professional career spanning over 14 years is a feat which deserves the highest accolade and a benchmark which any self respecting footballer needs to strive to achieve.

                              Many love Real Madrid because they love football, but there are many more who love football because they love Real Madrid. For those many more supporters Raul is not just a top scorer, a great and a legend, but an identity which they will ever be proud to associate themselves with. Let the history etch his name in footballing folklore for many million youngsters who will not be fortunate to see this legend playing.

                              Long live the king. Long live his kingdom.


                              Monday, February 2, 2009

                              Congrats Rafa

                              Posted by:Shibarjun Ghosh,India
                              Incredible, determined, hard-working, amazing, fast, persistent, graceful, elegant,phenomenal, aggressive,Wimbledon open,french open winner ,olympic gold medalist,World no 1, now Australian open champion,the only fourth player to have won grand slams on three different surface,the first spaniard to conquer Melbourne and of course a Madrisimo to the core.....that is Rafael Nadal.

                              Congrats Rafa on your winning the Australian Open.
                              from everyone at SiempreMadrid.