Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ronaldo the Savior?

Following a shock 3-2 defeat against Milan at home in the Champions League, and an even more shocking defeat to Alcorcon 4-0 in the Copa del Rey, many Real Madrid fans are calling for injured star Cristiano Ronaldo to return to action to “save” the team before it is too late.

The ahem always modest Ronaldo has quickly calmed the Madrid faithful by saying “We are not going through a great moment but neither am I the savior.” Ronaldo’s comments went on to imply that it’s unrealistic for fans to expect one player to turn the team around. While I believe it is fundamentally true that one man does not make a team, I do not believe it is out of line for Madrid fans to put pressure on Ronaldo to “save” them.

Considering that Ronaldo scored five goals for Madrid in five La Liga games, all of them wins, and the fact that the £80 million transfer man’s yearly salary is roughly that of Alcorcon’s entire team, I would be hard pressed to find a Madrid fan who would not claim that Ronaldo is the key component of the Madrid lineup.

I believe that Ronaldo should not return from injury before he is ready just to please the fans, but at the same time I think Ronaldo needs to recognize his importance to both his team and the fans.

In short, when your team is struggling, and your most talented and highest paid player is injured, fans have every right to hope that his return will be the thing the team needs to turn the season around. Ronaldo should not take the idea of being a “savior” as added pressure, but instead look at it as a vote of confidence by the Madrid fans.

A return against struggling rivals Atletico Madrid on November 8th could be the perfect situation for Ronaldo to begin his campaign to save the Madrid season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stars Are Ready for Season Debut

While a Liverpool versus Arsenal match is always an interesting affair, the prospect of seeing two stars make their Premier League season debuts in the match makes the game all the more interesting.

Arsenal’s Samir Nasri and Liverpool’s big money signing Alberto Aquilani are both set to make their season debuts in Wednesday night’s Carling Cup match between Liverpool and Arsenal. Nasri is returning from a broken leg suffered in pre-season training, while Aquilani is coming back from a thigh injury.

The fact that both men are making their return from injury against one another forces me to choose which player I’m more interested in seeing play.

After blowing a two goal lead this weekend against West Ham, Arsenal would love to have Nasri in the lineup to boost their offense (as well as Theo Walcott). However, Nasri has already played a successful season in the Premier League, and has had time to gel with his teammates, which makes his return a little less compelling.

I am more interested in seeing Aquilani make his Premier League debut.

With Liverpool struggling, and Rafa Benitez’s job seemingly on the line, now more than ever Alberto Aquilani’s presence seems to be needed. Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have both missed time with injury this season, and Liverpool’s title chances seem to slip away the more their star players are off the pitch.

As a Serie A fan, I am interested in seeing how Aquilani makes the transition from the Italian game to the English game. Will Aquilani be able to adjust to the size and speed of the players in the Premier League? Will the language barrier be a factor in his performance? Is Arsenal too tough of a team to make a debut against? Will Aquilani ever be worth his transfer fee?

All these question could be answered Wednesday after what is shaping up to be a very interesting Carling Cup match.