El Centrocampista

ANOTHER REAL STROLL FOR MADRID AS MOURINHO LAYS LOW

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Jasper Juinen/GETTY IMAGES

In a week when he allegedly went house hunting in London in an area rather near to where five days later one of his former clubs gave their manager his P45, it was hardly surprising that last night in the post game press conference, everyone wanted to talk to Jose Mourinho about whether he was going to be rejoining Chelsea in the summer. What was equally unsurprising was that he failed to appear for it, leaving Aitor Karanka to do the honours.

In these times when it is hard to differentiate one ninety minute Bernabeu stroll from another in the champions elects’ repertoire of embarrassingly easy home victories, it is to be expected that those eager to report on something new might forget all about the game they had just witnessed. For the record, Gonzalo Higuain marked his 150th appearance for ‘los merengue’ with a couple of goals, taking him to nineteen for the season and 85 in total for the club. No wonder Mourinho laughed off suggestions on Saturday of a swap deal with Kun Aguero, a player who has certainly been of great interest to Real in the past.

Meanwhile Kaka had arguably his best game in his three years with the club, and Mesut Ozil again showed why he has become the darling of the Bernabeu with a typically sumptuous all action display. There was even the opportunity to catch a peek at the leaders of the next generation of stars, with Raphael Varane getting another 45 minutes of first team action and again looking very assured, whilst young striker Alvaro Morata was given the last ten minutes and nearly scored his first senior goal.

The only negative came from a player at the other end of his career. Ricardo Carvalho’s decidedly shaky first half before being substituted at the interval would suggest that he would do well to take the one year contract on offer, rather than holding out for a longer one which on this evidence will never materialise.

However in truth even given the league leaders’ frightening prowess in front of their own fans (they have now scored 54 goals in their thirteen successive league victories), Espanyol’s display was truly wretched. They came to the capital on a poor run of form, with no wins in the last four, and after a reasonably comfortable first twenty minutes, they duly caved in once Ronaldo had set the ball rolling with his 124th goal in 126 Real appearances. Indeed only an inspired display by ‘keeper Kiko Casilla kept the final score in single figures.

On loan Brazilian midfielder Coutinho showed us one sublime piece of skill and nothing else before being withdrawn at the break, and at the back they were generally a sloppy shambles. Coach Maurizio Pochettino was a renowned non nonsense centre half in his day, and he must have been wincing at Raul Rodriguez’s poor defending which played a part in the first three Madrid goals, before he was removed from the action to avoid further psychological damage.

Having spent the first 75 minutes of the encounter barking instructions and urging on his team, Pochettino retreated disconsolately to the bench for the last quarter of an hour, no doubt willing the game to be over. Some of his charges gave the impression for much of it that they wished it had never started. One senses that his comments afterwards about his team lacking spirit were relayed rather more explicitly in the dressing room.

And so both of the big two take to the road again next weekend, with Real in theory having a slightly more difficult trip to Seville to face Real Betis. However right now it would take a brave man to put money on when they will next even drop points, let alone throw away a ten point lead. The game is very nearly up for Guardiola’s men, but whether either he or Mourinho will still be around to lock horns again next season remains very much in doubt.




3 Comments

  1. FCB1899

    5 March, 2012 at 12:45

    I can’t believe how poor Espanyol were last night against Madrid. I didn’t expect anything other than a home win but I thought Madrid may have been forced to work a little harder than they did.

  2. Jaffa

    5 March, 2012 at 12:50

    It was good to see Kaka playing somewhere near to the level he did when he left Milan, however Real didn’t even need to move out of 2nd gear last night Espanyol were so poor.

  3. Liam Bambridge

    5 March, 2012 at 21:01

    I think the problem is as much psychological as anything else with teams coming to the Bernabeu right now. Pochettino talked afterwards about how hard they had prepared for the game, but it took very little from Madrid before the whole game plan fell apart. That is not to say that they don’t have a wonderful set of players at the moment, but if you can find a way past their pressing game high up the pitch, they are so open at the back sometimes that they are there for the taking. However even if you manage to score against them, you always get the feeling (and I guess their opposition get the same feeling) that they will go down the other end and score two. Given Espanyol’s recent form, I guess it was to be expected that they would capitulate at some point, but perhaps a bit later in the game than twenty minutes in!

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