As Ronaldo clarifies today’s final score for us, here are my thoughts on the game.
The Champions League is the only trophy that Mourinho and Ronaldo haven’t won in Madrid, and with the La Liga title being signed, sealed and delivered to Barcelona, the the Whites are really only playing to lift La Décima, what would be the club’s tenth Champion’s League title.
So basically, a disastrous Wednesday in the Bernabeu could’ve effectively given fans zero reasons to keep watching this season. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
Despite the entire back line of Madrid’s being taller than most, they’re been pretty pedestrian about defending corners and set pieces for years. The man marking’s there but somehow opposing strikers find a way to find the ball and bury it and Welbeck did exactly that. Thankfully Ronaldo decided that gravity doesn’t work on him and hung in the air for what felt like an eternity as he headed home the critical equalizer ten minutes later.
Angel Di Maria thinks he can dribble through everyone and can’t. I think DiMa hasn’t come close to hitting his ceiling, but he’s got to calm down a bit, especially in the box because there have been many lost chances due to him trying to go through three or four defenders.
This is my understanding of Luka Modric’s assignments. Step 1: Insert ball into Modric’s feet. Step 2: Watch him change directions 1,000 times. Step 3: Settle for a lateral pass. He’s a rhythmic player who needs time to feel out the game, and that won’t happen with him coming off the bench.
You can’t blame Fabio Coentrão for squandering some chances when he’s a left back, and not even an attacking one. Fabio is a wonderful player who’s filled some massive shoes left by Marcelo, who has Madridistas everywhere anxious for his return from injury.
And if Marcelo left big shoes to be filled, then Iker Casillas left Paul Bunyan-sized shoes and Diego López has shown he’s capable of the task. He saved the team in both this game as well as the Copa Del Rey leg against Barca. I haven’t seen him get a bit of credit since his arrival, so if you’re reading, Deigo, some guy in Virginia thinks you’re awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Similarly, Sami Khedira deserves more praise as he had yet another great outing. He doesn’t play the most beautiful football, isn’t technically gifted and won’t get you out of your seat, but he does the dirty work no one else wants to and gets the ball into the final third as good as anyone.
Also, are we even certain that Raphael Varane is actually 19? Because he plays with the discipline of a long-time veteran. He is going to be something truly special.
The season will come down to Ronaldo’s homecoming to Old Trafford. Real Madrid’s squad has been just crushed by injury, and when players have come back from injury, they’ve been out of form. But Cristiano is the pinnacle of consistency (as shown in his averaging of over a goal per game in his time in Madrid) and I think that he can break the Red Devils’ hearts again, just like he did in 2009.