Last year I did an interview with Adam Bader of the excellent RealmadridTalk on OleOle; this year he once again emailed me questions that I answered (link soon), but I then sent him some questions which he was nice enough to send back with words attached after them. Sweet.
So here’s my interview with him:
Barcelona Football Blog: Given the inconsistency in Real’s season (9-1-1 in the league and first in their Champions League group, but out of the Copa del Rey), how do you think that Pellegrini will approach this match? Will he put out a defensive shell or will he try to outplay Barça?
Adam Bader: Well, in his pre-match press conference he said he will not settle for anything less than a victory. I like his winning mentality and I think Real Madrid must always aspire to win. Having said that, I think he’ll be extra careful. He has played Barcelona many times, he beat them and was trashed by the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi so he knows them very well. This will really help us a lot. I don’t expect him to park a bus in front of goal, but he will in no way play a very very open game. As you said Isaiah, Barca loves to keep the ball, and the only way for Real to win is to disallow them from having the ball and to score from as much changes as they can get. Effectiveness in front of goal will be essential for Real.
BFB: What noteworthy injuries or suspensions is Madrid currently dealing with?
AB: We don’t have any suspensions which is good. However, we do have a few injured players including Guti, Metzelder and Van Nistelrooy. Guti’s case has been both mysterious and controversial, but my take on it, is that Pellegrini no longer includes Guti in his plans. Add to that the fact that Guti misbehaved during the Alcorcon game in Copa Del Rey. I 100% back Pellegrini, and if I were him, I would kick Guti out of the club altogether. Nobody disrespects the manager.
BFB: Because Madrid has spent such a gargantuan amount of money on their latest squad members, are the expectations in the Madrid camp and among the fan base drastically higher than they usually are? What is your personal take on this offseason’s expenditures and how they’ve done so far?
AB: I think all big teams spend a lot of money. Barça have spent a lot in the last two seasons as well. How do you expect to sign someone like Messi or Ronaldo?
One of the problems Real have is the media, in particular Marca and AS. They rarely provide constructive criticism and only care about traffic and more sales. Statistically speaking, Real Madrid is the best in Spain and Europe, but when it comes to beautiful and collective football, this is not really the case. I think we have done very well so far. As a matter of fact, we haven’t had such a great start in La Liga in something like 18 years. All of that with a new president, new coaching staff, and new players. We are the first in the league and in the Champions League and we are told we play poor football. I wonder if we play very well, how far could we go!
So just to sum up, I think Perez has managed to build a balanced squad and all of that spending was natural. As I said earlier, you must pay a lot to bring those world-class players. We only need patience and faith. It doesn’t matter If we don’t win this year, our goal should be to build a strong squad for the next seasons.
BFB: Who will be the most decisive player for Madrid and why?
AB: This is a very good question, but I’m going to say that Real Madrid doesn’t really depend on a player. It may look like we depend on Higuain or Ronaldo, but in fact, we are trying to play as collectively as we could. I’m not saying that players like Higuain and Ronaldo are not important, I would be lying if I said that, but we can still win without them. Having said that, if Ronaldo plays and I know he is fired up, I think Guardiola should develop a plan to contain his danger. There is also Kaka who is unpredictable, and Benzema and Higuain who partner up very well.
BFB: Will Raul get the start or will Pellegrini continue to put him on the bench? He’s been hugely influential in past Clasicos, of course, so will he be able to work some more magic for RM this time around? What are your general thoughts on your captain’s current position within the squad and where do you see him at the end of this season?
AB: My general thoughts on Raul have always been the same. He is a football legend that made history at the club. But as with all strikers and footballers in general, you reach a period when you can’t play well consistently. It is a fact and nobody can deny it. I don’t consider it as Raul’s problem, it is just a natural thing. We want him to retire whenever he thinks it is the right time to do so, but the team is more important. So the solution is to bench Raul when he is not at his best form, and make a good use of him when he is fired up. It is impossible for a striker, let alone someone who is above 30 to perform consistently during the whole season.
If I were Pellegrini I wouldn’t start Raul against Barça. I know that he adds some flavor to the Clasico, but I would only consider starting him if Ronaldo started. The reason being, if Ronaldo starts, that will naturally add a lot of strength to our attack. Also that will free up some space for Raul as the focus will shift to Ronaldo. The Captain has no pace or dribbling skills and that’s why I prefer Benzema and Higuain. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised If he started or even scored. Pellegrini can be unpredictable and so can Raul.
BFB: What are you lineup and score predictions?
AB: Sorry, this is the Clásico – no predictions. It would be dumb to predict the result of a game between Barcelona and Real Madrid. No previous stats, numbers or form guide is relevant in this case. There will be a lot of factors that will decide the game, but small details and who will be 100% concentrated and effective will win.
My lineup is: Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Metzelder, Arbeloa, Lass, Alonso, Kaka, Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema.
There you have it folks. Next up, the preview.