Just in time, Cristiano Ronaldo is hitting perfect goal scoring form. He and Real Madrid are out of their little funk, and after rather easily dealing with Ajax in the Champions League, they can move on to the more important stuff – stopping Barcelona in the league, paying a visit to the Nou Camp for the first league Clasico of the season.
And while it seems Jose Mourinho is suddenly having some problems with his players – the whole Sergio Ramos issue that isn’t happy about being benched, or being blamed, or being shifted to the full back position; the whole Mesut Ozil issue, who lost his place in the starting lineup to Luka Modric and now Kaka; there is enough to be smiling about. Cristiano Ronaldo is happy and unstoppable once more, scoring two hat tricks in the space of four days, while Barcelona can’t seem to keep one natural central defender healthy.
Some speculate that the whole feuds theme line recently featuring in the team is the making of Mourinho himself, meaning he’s just fine with his players and the whole thing is just some plot to try and fool his opponents, but that’s a bit too “conspiracy theory” sounding-like, even for Mourinho.
Ajax aren’t exactly the right kind of indication for a match against Barcelona or most La Liga teams when Real play away from home. Ajax defended well for most of the first half, and weren’t too far from making it 2-2 in a few minutes of pressure during the second half, until Ronaldo got his nice, outside-the-box curler to end Ajax’s hopes and chances of a comeback. On to the real deal.
And if there’s something Real Madrid have probably picked up from their losses, draws and partial struggles in wins this season, it has to benefit them at the Camp Nou. Less about who plays for Mourinho up front and in the middle of the park, while the defense is pretty much set (Not to deep in that are as well, at the moment), but how they play.
Constant pressure on Xavi and Fabregas/Iniesta instead of letting Barcelona fall into their usual rhythm. Just like they did in the 1-2 win last season, that sealed the title story. Just like they did very early on against Barcelona in the second leg of the Supercoppa. They did have a bit more of luck in the end, when Barcelona simply couldn’t come up with a clinching goal, but having Iker Casillas and a tad of good fortune never hurts.
I don’t know if Kaka will start against Barcelona. It’s in Mourinho’s nature to be cautious, so you’d expect someone with attacking orientation to begin on the bench instead of three and a half forwards to start the match. Possibly a Ronaldo, Benzema, Di Maria front 3, with Luka Modric playing as the advanced midfielder. There are plenty of options, but the bigger issue is the tactics. It’s hard to play Barcelona openly for 90 minutes, but retreating with 10 men behind the ball isn’t a good idea as well.
The season starts here for Real Madrid. Losing to Barcelona in the Clasico is pretty much a death sentence to the team’s title hopes. Eleven points is just too much in the La Liga. They have speed and a terrible Barcelona defense to take advantage of, while trying to hide their own defensive frailties, especially when it comes to set pieces. Real have what it takes to get back in the title race, with an in-form Cristiano Ronaldo the best weapon of all.