The biggest sporting news filtering through from Spain today is that former Man United star Cristiano Ronaldo has suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle problem and will be out of action for around another month. This news brings to mind an article I read in a Barcelona-based newspaper recently, one of the strangest articles I have ever come across, which said that a Spanish psychic who goes by the name of “Brujo Pepe” (which translates as Pepe the Warlock) predicted that Ronaldo would suffer recurrences on the injury he’s recently been struck down with and would end up retiring from football in four months time. A ludicrous claim and one that will surely not come to be, but the the potty predictor got one thing right – that Ronaldo’s absence is to be longer than Real first anticipated and this is something which the Spanish giants will not take lightly.
Much was made of the big money signings Real made this summer with questions asked to how they would fare at Real. Former Liverpool duo Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso have both settled into the first team with ease, Arbeloa part of a relatively successful defence and Alonso one of two holding midfielders alongside former Portsmouth, Arsenal and Chelsea man Lassana Diarra. As watchers of the Premiership we’ve seen over the last few years how deadly Alonso can be in midfield and he’s yet to reach top form in Spain having assisted just two goals in seven appearances for the team from the Spanish capital. His overall play though is as impressive as ever. Then there’s the foreign recruits; Karim Benzema has impressed as he looks to adapt to Spanish football but he looks far from a clinical striker while Kaka, despite scoring a few goals, has also not looked at his best – but this may be down to the fact that Real have been using him on the wing to accommodate their formation.
The key signing though is clearly 80 million pound man Ronaldo, affectionately referred to by the Madrid faithful as “CR9”, who has transferred his goalscoring form from Man Utd to Real Madrid just like that having scored around a goal a game so far. Real have admired Ronaldo massively since his United days as they appreciate gung-ho players who don’t stop attacking and scoring and Ronaldo fits that criteria, he has easily become their star man in a team full of stars. He’s revered almost as highly as club legend Raul already and the highly excitable Madrid-based media have already professed upon him the title of Madrid’s saviour and the difference between success and failure. The uproar in the papers when he originally got injured for a month was astounding given the strength of Real’s squad and every poor performance since then has been blamed on Ronaldo’s absence as the papers claim that Madrid are hopeless without him. Extreme I know but the Spanish media are an odd sort.
Real were always going to be title contenders this season; they were already contenders and then their massive spending spree this summer has gone on its way to establishing them as even more promising contenders. In any other league they would surely be top but yet the presence of the mighty Barcelona has stopped Real from running away with the league. Real have enjoyed taking the best players from the Premiership to improve the squad at the Bernabeu and Ronaldo is quickly becoming the latest hero of that line following goal-happy Ruud van Nistelrooy and David Beckham who was always a fan favourite. Alonso and Arbeloa, the other imports from the Premiership, continue to be adored as the Spanish love quality players who happen to be of their own nationality. We haven’t seen the best of Real Madrid yet this season and when we do you can be sure that Alonso, Arbeloa and, most importantly for Real, Ronaldo will all be on top form. It’s a devastating prospect for those who have to play them.