Posts Tagged ‘uefa champions league

12
Jun
09

Euros and Pounds don’t mean Success

Second time Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has pulled of a major coup with the signing of Kaka and with Cristiano Ronaldo left to say just a ‘yes’. The two transfers together costing Madrid a whopping £136 milion at a time when the club’s own debts tune upto £900 trillion. Media reports suggest Perez is preparing for the second coming of Los Galacticos. Rumors linking the club to top footballers such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Ribery, David Villa etc are already doing the rounds. Three words for the club – What the fuck?

Hasn’t Florentino Perez and Real Madrid proved us already that money alone can bring silverware? Perez became Madrid’s President in 2000 after promising to bring Portuguese winger Luis Figo to the club from arch-rivals Barcelona. This was a promise that he promptly delievered and that too at a then world record fee. Figo was followed by the arrival of an array of world-class players such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Robinho among others. Los Galacticos, as they were known, found some initial success, but only flopped in the long term. You might as well say Ronaldo’s career doomed after the move. He is yet to recover his magic form that made him the magician even after 2 years of leaving the club. The same could be said for Michael Owen too. Beckham’s arrival was solely kept in mind his off-field attractions than on-field performances. The club’s revenue skyrocketed with his shirt-sales but the former England captain’s  own career hit rockbottom.

Los GalaticosThe Real Madrid side of Perez looked almost like a World XI with the best talent from all over. But that also came to be the bane of the club. Most of the Madrid players had already reached the prime of their careers and it was only a matter of time before age and lack of form tested them. This combined with the egos of the World’s best created a lot of problems for coach Vicente del Bosque. While Beckham and Owen rarely started for the team, others like Ronaldo were usually playing out of position. Perez was only on keen on signing attacking players and gave no importance to the defense.  Claude Makalele who at the time was one of Europe’s best defensive midfielders was only paid a fraction of what was a Galatico’s salary. When Perez refused to hike his fee he promptly departed. Perez then signed a host of good if not not great defensive players including the likes of Walter Samuel, Thomas Gravesen and Cicinho. But these players failed to live upto expectations.

The final nail in the coffin was Perez’s decison to do away with the services of coach del Bosque despite him leading the club to 2 Champions League and 2 La Liga titles. Del Bosque’s departure also hastened the leaving of regulars like Fernando Hierro and Fenando Morientes. Both these players had backed Makalele for a pay-rise along with the coach. Carlos Quieroz who succeeded del Bosque too was forced to play the star players and the team continued in its stride downhill. Even Luis Figo who was the first ever Galatico left for Inter Milan after being denied a regular place. The problem with the team was that despite individual performances they failed as a cohesive unit, especially without the charismatic del Bosque.

The Galatico affair was heavily criticized. Steve McManaman, another former Madrid regular who suffered due to the arrival of Los Galacticos called it ‘The Disneyfication of Real Madrid‘. McManaman had lost his place to fellow Brit David Beckham was alleged to have been bought only for his off-field value. Somebody had even said Beckham was signed only for his looks while Ronaldinho who was bought by rivals Barcelona, did not interest Madrid since he was ‘ugly’. The signings of Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate did not escape any criticism either. It coulld be said Los Galacticos ‘officially’ came to an end when star-studded Real Madrid crashed out of the 2005-06 Champions League to an inexperienced Arsenal, a team in stark contrast to Madrid was made up of talented and young homegrown talent. Florentino Perez resigned from his post as President shortly after this.

Florentino Perez has been elected President for a second time after a disastrous last season. I agree, the less said about the club’s last season, the better. But then Barcelona were supermanesque and even a team which had Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Torres together couldn’t have stopped them. But surely the two seasons before that, Real Madrid was nothing short of being called stupendous. If arrogant Mr. Perez fails in his Los Galacticos venture for a second time as well, which looks most likely, then stupendous wouldn’t be the word to call, rather stupid. One can only hope that the bright careers of Ronaldo, Kaka and many others don’t meet their waterloo at the Bernabeu.

Update – Ronaldo and Kaka will be joined by Raul Albiol, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery in this mass (career) suicide spree. Probably even more coming up.

20
Mar
09

Champions League draws announced

 The draws for the Champions League Quarter finals were announced today and it promises some really mouthwatering clashes. Defending Champions Manchester United take on Porto while rivals Arsenal take on the Yellow Submarines, Villareal. Liverpool who earlier thrashed Real Madrid will be facing off against Chelsea in all-English clash. High flying Barcelona square off against Bayern Munich.

United will be looking for revenge as it was Porto who triumphed last time they faced, throwing the Red Devils out of the 2004 tournament. But this time around, things may not be the same for Porto as half the side from the 2004 team are away. But the biggest person missing for them would be Jose Mourinho. It was the ‘Special one’ who guided the underdogs to a famous victory and later clinched the League itself. United are not the only club looking for vendetta. Spanish club Villareal crashed out against Arsenal in 2006 when Juan Roman Riquelme’s last minute penalty was saved by Gunners keeper Jens Lehmann.  Arsenal should be able to see off Villareal this time too.

Liverpool definitely are the team to watch out for. Captain Stevie G and marksman Fernando Torres are both in lethal form, blasting away oppositions including the likes of Man Utd and Real Madrid in recent weeks. Chelsea are under a Guus Hiddink revival, although I seriously doubt if even he could help them overcome the Merseysiders.  Barca vs Bayern is undoubtabely the clash of the stage. The teams are equally matched in all the departments and both the managers are relatively young and also have played for the respective clubs. The Catalan giants should reach the semis; a penalty shootout is very much a possibility here.  

I was hoping for an all-English semi final line up but with Chelsea and Liverpool facing eachother that is unlikely just like the last time. Also for the first time since the 2001-02 season, the quarters would see the absence of an Italian club.  My prayers are with Manchester United and I hope they repeat Moscow at Rome too later this year.