Reuters Soccer Blog

A quarter of a billion euros doesn’t get you much these days…

March 11, 2010

SOCCER/Uncomfortable questions are being asked about Real Madrid’s policy of forking out a quarter of a billion euros on players following their shock elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Olympique Lyon on Wednesday.

Real remains a work in progress after sneaky 3-2 win

August 31, 2009

******Real Madrid’s expensive new team boasts an awesome array of attacking talent and huge goal-scoring potential but their defence looked worryingly porous in their opening match of the La Liga season on Saturday.******President Florentino Perez spent 250 million euros ($359 million) to bring excitement and spectacle back to the Bernabeu after two barren years and judging by Saturday’s 3-2 win over Deportivo Coruna, when Real twice surrendered the lead and created a host of chances, the fans will not be disappointed.******The return of the suspended Pepe and injured pair Christoph Metzelder and Sergio Ramos may help to eradicate the errors that blighted their performance.******However, Real’s hopes of mounting an effective challenge to treble-winners Barcelona seemingly rest on the ability of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and their team mates to score more goals than are inevitably conceded.******Sports daily Marca said in an editorial on Sunday that Real were following a script against Depor that the fans had become well used to over the years.******”An opponent with a solid back line who refuses to be intimidated by so many star players and knows how to exploit the whites’ defensive weakness but who ultimately yields to massive firepower,” the paper wrote. “This (Real) promises excitement.”******Perez’s latest creation resembles the band of “galacticos” he assembled during his first stint in charge in 2000-2006, who included Zinedine Zidane, Figo, David Beckham and Brazilian striker Ronaldo.******DYNAMIC SIDES***El Pais soccer correspondent Jose Samano said that coach Manuel Pellegrini was under orders from Perez to focus on attack because the president had grown up watching dynamic Real sides including players such as Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas in the 1950s and 60s.******”Over time soccer has become more conservative but not in the mind of (Perez),” Samano wrote.******”Manuel Pellegrini has no other option than to field as many defenders as attackers, a gamble that almost got them into trouble against Depor,” he added.******”Madrid were struggling to dictate the game and obviously won’t be a balanced and well calibrated side anytime soon but their box of tricks is limitless.”******Writing in El Mundo, Orfeo Suarez said that the new-look Real side were “terrific going forward and vulnerable at the back“.******”That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the start of the second Florentino Perez era; understandable because it’s a project under construction,” he said.******”Madrid kept Depor’s hopes alive because they are not yet a team and perhaps never will be, and some of the stars are still not firing on all cylinders.”******PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Raul celebrates his goal against Deportivo Coruna with Karim Benzema (L) and Kaka (C) during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid August 29, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Move over U2, now Real’s Ronaldo rocks

July 7, 2009

Watching Cristiano Ronaldo getting the rock star treatment at a packed Bernabeu stadium on Monday night, I found myself thinking back to the U2 concert I had been to at Barcelona’s Camp Nou last week.

Ronaldo set for Real Madrid – your views

June 11, 2009

Manchester United said on Thursday they have received a world record 80 million pound ($131.2 million) bid for forward Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.

Where should Perez splash Real cash?

May 31, 2009

Florentino Perez is on course for an unopposed return to the Real Madrid presidency on Monday, and is promising to set in motion a major spending spree to build a “spectacular sporting project.”Speculation on who might be arriving has reached fever pitch in the Madrid-based media, and the architect of the ‘Galacticos’ policy has done everything he can to stoke their enthusiasm, short of naming names.“We are going to have great players to continue increasing the club’s income in as short a time as possible,” he told sports daily Marca.“We will go a bit further into debt because I think we have to make up for lost time by doing in one year what should have been done in two or three.”He told radio station Cadena Ser he expected to make five or six signings.With a war chest of up to 300 million euros being spoken about in the Spanish media, they have moved quickly to fill in the gaps.With Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho slipping off the radar, Villarreal’s Manuel Pellegrini has now emerged as a surprise front runner for the coaching role.As for players, all the usual names are present. Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, AC Milan’s Kaka and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery top the shopping list, along with Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, and Valencia trio David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata.But where do Real really need strengthening if they are win back the initiative from treble-winners Barcelona, and bring the spectacle back to the Bernabeu?Iker Casillas will continue between the posts, but Fabio Cannavaro’s departure for Juventus leaves them short of a partner for Pepe in the centre of defence. The injury-prone Christoph Metzelder cannot be relied upon.Left back has also been a problem position with first-choice Gabriel Heinze struggling.The area where they have suffered most this year is in midfield, where they have lacked the quality and pace to open up defences in the big games.Arjen Robben spends too much time on the treatment table, the ageing Guti flickers only intermittently, while Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Marcelo and Royston Drenthe have failed to step up when needed.In attack, Ruud van Nistelrooy missed most of the campaign with a knee injury and will be 33 by the start of next season. Raul will be 32. Gonzalo Higuain and Klaas Jan Huntelaar are not yet finished articles.Where would you splash the cash?PHOTO: Perez speaks during the presentation of his presidential candidature for Real Madrid, May 28, REUTERS/Susana Vera

Wenger makes his point with customary elegance

May 22, 2009

“Highly intelligent” and “Arsene Wenger” sit neatly together in countless newspaper columns outlining the exploits, achievements and travails of the cerebral Arsenal manager.

Florentino’s back — is Kaka coming with him?

May 16, 2009

Florentino Perez is back on the scene and if the Madrid sports press are right the first ‘Galactico’ of his second era at Real Madrid will be Brazil’s Kaka, assuming he wins next month’s election to the presidency.

The Real Madrid Presidential Candidacy ‘Promisometer’

May 6, 2009

The campaign to be the next president of Real Madrid Football Club has finally kicked into gear with the claim from the little known Eduardo Garcia that, if elected on June 14, he will bring with him the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.