Updated! At the bottom of this post is the podcast I did with Adam, Kevin (different Kevin), and Mark. Listen to it!
This is another in the series BFB Interviews (previously here and here) that I’ve run with various writers from different La Liga teams prior to big matches with them. This time it’s Adam Bader of Real Madrid Talk at OleOle that is on the hot seat. Let’s see how he does, shall we?
Thanks for doing this interview, Adam. Anyway, let’s get this party on the road, shall we?
Barcelona Football Blog: Let’s start with questions about finances. Since our first meeting, way back in the antiquity of 2009, there have been various new financial statistics released, including Real Madrid achieving €400m+ in revenue. Do you believe that Florentino Perez’s economic model is viable in the short term? How about the long term?
Adam Bader: It’s undeniable that Florentino Perez is a successful and smart business man and he proved that his economic model works when he first ran the club in the Zidanes y Pavons days. Short-term, his model forces us to take a lot of risks such as making expensive signings, getting huge loans from banks while the team is a work in progress and is not winning titles and therefore not bringing as much money as it should be bringing.
Financially-speaking, we are not in a very good position at the moment due to our exit from the Champions League. It’s estimated that the damage could amount to as much as €80m in missed ticket and shirt sales, sponsorship opportunities, TV rights and performance-based bounces so we have been hit hard by being eliminated from the Champions League, and thus Perez’ financial plan has become complicated.
So short-term, his model is only generating more debts and risks, but long-term, things will change for the better. We generated €400m without having valuable brands such as Ronaldo and Kakà and without winning titles and so I expect that we will pass that mark at the end of this year. I’m not really worried about our financial situation, because Perez as I said is a smart business man and he is always finding ways of generating money.
With that being said, it all depends on how well we do on the pitch. It’s known that clubs don’t receive a lot of money from the titles they win (I mean directly), but the money that comes as a result of winning titles is a lot, so If we start winning titles, his model will start to work as he planned.
BFB: How do you feel about the team’s success so far this year? Are they overachieving? Just right? Overachieving? Underachieving?
AB: Taking into account the changes that happened in the summer, I’m satisfied with what we’ve achieved so far. We are sharing the top spot in La Liga with one of the best Barcelona teams in history and who also happens to have one of the best players the world has seen.
Yes, we were kicked out from the King’s Cup and the Champions League by average teams, but it doesn’t really bother me because as I said, we are building a new team from scratch (I hope Perez just stick with his plan this time as I’m sick of using “building a team from scratch” everytime someone interviews me!) and If you have been following us since the last time we met, I think you’ll agree that we improved a lot as a “team” and not to mention the incredible statistics we’ve achieved.
Even though Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaìn have scored around 42 goals together this season, other 12 players also found the net which means the goals we score come from many players. Another interesting thing is that, everyone seems to assist including Marcelo who assisted Higuaìn 6 times or more this season.
What I’m trying to say is, we have begun to play as a team and yes, this group of players can gel together and become a great team If it is given more time. What I’m also saying is contrary to what the media and most of the people are saying, they claim because we are Galagticos we won’t be successful because money doesn’t buy success. Well, money doesn’t buy success, but it brings professionals who can succeed. And aren’t Inter, Barca, and Chelsea Galagticos too?
BFB: Fabio Capello was previously booted for not entertaining enough despite having just won the Liga title; is this year’s team the same for most Madridistas or are they exciting enough to pass muster despite writers like Sid Lowe calling them “very, very boring”?
AB: First off, I didn’t really think that Capello’s team was not entertaining. In fact, I thought Schuster’s Real (which was supposed to be sexier according to Calderon) was boring to death. Capello built a strong team (that challenged you for the title until the last second and won it) and also built a great base of certain player that had the spirit to fight and win.
This current team, however, is different from Capello’s, not only because its style of play is different, but because the players are different. It’s not the same when you have players like Ronaldo, Benzema, Kakà and Alonso and when you have Gago, Diarra, Robinho and Van nistelrooy. Capello didn’t have the resources that Pellegrini has (and even those that Shcuster had) yet he got the job done for the second time, and Calderon showed our appreciation by sacking him.
To answer your question, I think this is not the most entertaining Real Madrid ever, but it is not as boring as Sid says. I’ve personally enjoyed watching it play against Barcelona, Villarreal, AC Milan (in the San Siro) and in many other games, but as I said earlier, it is a work in progress and I think it will definitely improve.
BFB: From your vantage point–and taking into consideration your answer to question number two–is the loss to Lyon in the Champions League a debacle, a fact of life, or a piddling detail?
AB: It’s a fact of life. Just look at how Manchester were eliminated last night, they were winning 3-0 before half-time, but Bayern taught them that in football, it aint over till it is over.
In my humble opinion, I think Real were eliminated not because they were terrible (and I’m not saying they were awesome), but because they failed to capitalize on their chances.
The Champions League is just like the World Cup. It’s so damn difficult to win. You need a lot of things. You need talent, skill, hard work, faith and “LUCK” to win it.
Having said that, I have to admit Lyon were the better side overall (especially in the first leg, but not in the second leg) and for one reason which is they had effectiveness in front of goal.
Gonzalo Higuaìn has netted 24 goals this season, but has wasted as much, if not more, decent chances (he hit the post and wasted two other good chances against Lyon) and this has been a problem for us (and I’m worried the reason we might lose to you again is because we wouldn’t be effective upfront)
We were not eliminated because we didn’t have the right coach or players, but because we didn’t learn from our past mistakes and we didn’t make the most of our chances.
BFB: Have you seen the trailer for Iron Man 2? Mickey Roarke and Scarlett Johansson? Yowza!
BFB: Go watch it! What are you doing with yourself? Do you consider this match a do-or-die scenario, given that there will be 7 matches played after it or is that just hype coming from the media?
AB: Just hype coming from “ASS” and Marca, but it is still a crucial game. Although I can still see both teams slipping up after the Clasico, the side that wins this, will be very close to winning the league.
BFB: Will Madrid alter any of its usual tactics or will they simply continue to play as they have, believing they will win? Is Barcelona’s possession-based offense (and, really, defense) a problem for Madrid or will it play into Pellegrini’s current system?
AB: First off, both teams play different styles of football. Barca love to have the ball, while we love to move it as forward as we can and score. But for me, I like my team to have the ball because If you don’t then the pressure is on you, and the more pressure is on you, the more mistakes you make and goals you concede.
Alonso agrees with me here and he said that the key to win the Clasico is to dominate which is difficult to do when your opponents have players like Xavi and Iniesta. Having said that, I think Pellegrini will “try” to have more ball possession because as he learned from the first Clasico this season, giving up the ball to Barcelona for the entire 90 minutes is suicide!
In most Clasicos I have seen, Barca have had the lion share of possession, and we only won because we were effective in front of goal. Having said that, I think we need to try and dominate because Barca are just very good with the ball and it is risky to let them play with it when they got Messi, Pedro, Ibrahimovic (will he make it?) and Bojan.
To answer the first part of your question, we will alter our tactics to minimize the danger coming from Lionel Messi. He is very, very dangerous (I’m not saying something new!) and as we’ve all seen in the Arsenal game, he could do what can’t be done.
I disagree with those saying he is unstoppable, because he can be stopped and we stopped him on a couple of occasions and so did Jose Murinho five times before. Messi has never scored against a side that was coached by Mourinho because the Portuguese knew how to stop him.
We will be counting on Arbeloa to keep Messi away from goal but it is going to be difficult. As I told you on the podcast, I’d use Ronaldo on the wing because If we let Alves and Messi roam freely in there, we are going to be in a lot of trouble. But If Ronaldo could keep Alves busy and Arbeloa focuses on Messi alone, we will minimize his danger.
BFB: Who will be missing for Madrid that we should know about? Injuries? Suspensions? Recent returnees?
AB: In addition to Pepe who has a long-term injury, we’ll be without the rapper aka Drenthe and possibly Kakà who is still recovering from his injury. I don’t know If he will make it but even If he does, he is not match fit.
We’ve recently welcomed Benzema, Garay and Guti back and all three are fit.
BFB: Do any of these absences worry you or are you confident in your bench to produce in their stead?
AB: I’m actually glad that Drenthe is injured because I still blame him for losing to you last season at the Camp Nou and I don’t like his songs anyway. Pepe is clearly a big loss but we’ve managed without him.
I have mixed emotions about Kakà because he hasn’t been really excellent but I would love if he was fit. He is special and could help us win. Luckily, van der Vaart is in form and can replace him.
BFB: Okay. Let’s say there are two giraffes in front of you. Do you know how to identify which one is male and which is female without, you know, checking?
AB: I would look straight at the face. If it looks like Dani Alves, then it is a lesbian female giraffe.
BFB: Hmm. Close. But it’s actually the width and height of the horns. We are missing Abidal at the moment, with Ibrahimovic and Pique potential absences. Does any of this make you more confident or do you think our bench is strong enough in depth to withstand these absences?
AB: I think you have a deep squad and good replacements, but these three are undeniably important for you, Pique in particular, so I think you’ll be fine without Ibrahimovic but you might have issues in the back.
BFB: Who do you feel is going to be Barça’s most dangerous player against you this weekend? Last time I asked that question of someone, Lionel Messi was a cop-out answer, but after what he did to Arsenal…can you shut him down without sacrificing space for other players?
AB: As I said before, it is hard to stop Messi, at least without killing him. He’ll always be dangerous, but I think you have other players who can cause damage too. I have been impressed by Pedro and if he plays he could create problems even though Ramos can shut him down on the right.
Xavi might not be directly dangerous but I think we really need to stop him from playing his game. His passing rate is just incredible and I want Lass or whoever plays as a defensive-midfielder to chase him, hug him from behind, be his shadow, his underwear or whatever (without sexually abusing him though) because he is enjoying the attention that is being given to Messi as it allows him to move around freely.
BFB: Let’s say Florentino Perez gives you a call and asks you to visit his, erm, lair. Would you willingly count his Scrooge McDuck style piles of gold? Would you filch any of it?
AB: I wouldn’t go because we haven’t been talking after what happened in the Bernabeu’s offices in October. I accidentally entered to “ladies” bathroom and his daughter was there and…you know, will tell you later on Skype.
BFB: Well then…And finally, what’s your score prediction?
AB: Seriously? Let’s face it, deep down nobody knows what’s going to happen (or that might be only me). I can see both teams winning it, but I don’t know how will. It is open!
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be featured on your blog, Isaiah.
And remember, visit Adam’s page to give him respectful grief for his lack of having seen Iron Man 2 trailers.