Metzelder may make it in Madrid after all

April 27, 2009

I nearly fell out of my chair on Sunday night when I realised the identity of the Real Madrid player who had surged into the box and sent across a perfectly-weighted centre for Raul to score the equaliser against Sevilla.

Christoph Metzelder? What on earth is he doing up there?

The 28-year-old defender is trying to win back his place in the German national side but has only played in eight of the Spanish champions’ 33 league matches this season and has said he is considering moving on if he doesn’t get more time on the pitch.

The 10-match ban handed to Pepe last week is his chance to impress. And judging by his performance in Sunday’s 4-2 comeback win he is determined to take it.

As well as creating the first goal, he looked to have rediscovered something close to the form that made him such an effective central defensive partner for Per Mertesacker at the 2006 World Cup.

He had looked nervous and clumsy when used by Real this season, but Germany coach Joachim Loew is sure to have noticed his impressive showing alongside Fabio Cannavaro on Sunday, with the pair comfortably keeping Sevilla strikers Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano at bay.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his lack of first-team action, Metzelder has settled well into the Spanish capital and has learned very good Castellano that wins him praise at press conferences and for his appearances on radio and television.

“We defended quite well and I managed to provide an assist,” he said after Sunday’s match, which puts Real almost within touching distance of Barcelona. “My job is to defend and try to help the team in that but sometimes there are attacks in which the central defenders can provide an assist.

“I was lucky to get the ball and the result was a goal. I was quite happy with the match. I had to come in and help the team and I managed it.”

PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Raul celebrates with Cristoph Metzelder after scoring against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

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