Real look CR9 dependent as Sevilla heed cry for challengers

October 5, 2009

One swallow does not make a summer, but Sevilla’s bristling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday offers hope that the answer to the question posed in Thursday’s blog is ‘no’.

Three teams can challenge for the La Liga title this year.

Manolo Jimenez’s side inflicted a first defeat on Real with a vibrant, attacking display that was reminiscent of their performances under Juande Ramos when they won back-to-back UEFA Cups.

Sevilla are now level on 15 points with Real, though third due to their inferior goal difference. Barcelona are top with 18 points from six games.

Wingers Jesus Navas and Diego Perotti did the damage at the Sanchez Pizjuan, truly testing Real Madrid’s defence for the first time this season, but it was a strong all-round team performance.

They have strength in depth, are solid at the back and club president Jose Maria del Nido boasts: “the best strike force in Europe” with Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano and Alvaro Negredo. They have now won seven on the trot in all competitions.

Real were without top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo due to an ankle strain, but it was the absence of first choice left back Alvaro Arbeloa that may have been more telling as Navas made a fool of his replacement Marcelo.

Once again, Real lacked fluidity in their play and it was the familiar figure of Iker Casillas who was their outstanding player, pulling off a couple of magnificent saves.

“Real reveal their shortcomings in the first serious test of the year. They have CR9 dependency. They continue to rely excessively on their stars,” Marca wrote on Monday.

Barcelona remain unbeaten after shaking off Almeria 1-0, but the Andalucians made life extremely difficult for them at the Nou Camp with their man-marking of midfield creators Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

“It wasn’t marking, it was an obsession,” Xavi said of Almeria midfielder Chico’s work on Saturday. “All he did was watch me. I felt very important. I told him ‘Why don’t you go and mark Messi?’”

It may not be pretty but it was effective, and as Espanyol and Chelsea showed last year an asphyxiating pressure on the midfield can throw Barca off their game.

“I hope it is a blueprint for a way to play against a team as powerful as Barcelona. I hope they respect my patent,” Almeria coach Hugo Sanchez said.

After six rounds of matches, La Liga could be about to get a bit more interesting with both Real and Barca showing chinks in their armour. Maybe it won’t be the most boring league in Europe after all…

PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Kaka (top) falls over Sevilla’s Didier Zokora during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville October 4, 2009. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

7 comments

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[...] Real Madrid was the first to blink. After starting the Spanish season with five consecutive victories, in lock-step with rival Barcelona, los Meringues lost on Sunday to Sevilla, 2-1, in what Mark Elkington of Reuters called a “bristling” defeat. [...]

Yes, maybe La Liga will really be worth more than just the occasional glance this season, but I think the chances of a real upset are still minimal

Sevilla were massively fired up for the Real match but I suspect they won’t be able to produce the same intensity week in week out and may lack the consistency to mount a real challenge for the title. Fantastic to watch though, especially Navas who has a great chance of getting into Del Bosque’s squad for the 2010 World Cup.

Posted by Iain | Report as abusive

I’m just glad to see that the performance Sevilla put in during the second half of there cl game with Rangers was carried forward into La Liga. To be honest they were actually quite poor in the first half and should of been 1-0 down after a blatent penelty was waved away by the ref but to be fair blew Rangers away in the second as my team went looking for a Winner. They did come across as a very hard working honest team and with the likes of Kanoute and Fabiano up front they have the potential to score against anyone.
This result is no fluke!!

Posted by Dunoon Blue Boy | Report as abusive

Just like Manu, Real really missed Ronaldo. The team was flat.

Posted by Petev | Report as abusive

strange that a team like Real with so much money are a one man’s team, this is stupidity on the part of the management of Real. i hope they stop distorting the market and build a proper team. I enjoyed Sevilla outclassing them with classy players

Posted by tttt | Report as abusive

La Liga is actually a better league to watch despite the snobbish attitude of English journalists who are so intent on putting down other leagues to promote the fallacy that the EPL is the best league in the world.

Sevilla vs Real Madrid was so much better than Chelsea v Liverpool in technically, aesthetically, and the talent on display. One was a display of technical football, the other was kick and rush…

Second-tier Spanish teams like Valencia, Deportivo, Sevilla, Villareal are technically far superior to second-tier EPL teams like Tottenham, Everton, Villa, etc.

This has been proven many times with the likes of Deportivo, Sevilla, Villareal regularly going far in the Champions League and actually winning the UEFA Cup while their EPL counterparts are whipping boys in international competition.

Yet, we are somehow being told that La Liga is rubish without Real Madrid and Barcelona.

These same journalists told us last year how Manchester United was the best club team ever assembled and how Barcelona stood no chance in the Chanpions League final. Of course, Barcelona went on to completely outclass and teach Manchester United a football lesson…

A little humility and some proper knowledge of the game (instead of jingoism) is a necessary ingredient for being a real football journalist.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

I agree with Iain, Dunoon Blue Boy, it was a cracking performance from Sevilla. But can they keep it going?
Petev and tttt, I think it is still early days with Real Madrid. Their problem has always been patience when things don’t go well and there is likely to be less of that than usual after spending 250mill euros.
I am sorry you think I’m promoting the EPL at la Liga’s expense Vincent, but don’t really watch EPL and don’t mention it here. Do you think Sevilla can mount a sustained challenge or are Deportivo Coruna, for example, going to surprise us?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive