MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates with Alvaro Arbeloa after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, first leg match between CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid at the Luzhniki Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)
As the afterglow from the glorious 1-5 thrashing of Osasuna finally begins to subside and we await APOEL's arrival in Madrid, I thought I'd travel through the wonderful world of football journalism and share the best Real related ramblings and rumblings with you on this manic, meandering Monday. Join me after the jump.
It seemed like the entire Managing Madrid community was gushing over Raphael Varane's performance against Real Sociedad, but leave it to the 'Special One' to upstage us all by telling reporters at a recent a press conference that:
"He'll be better than Laurent Blanc...Varane has the same intelligence, the same calmness, the same presence as Laurent Blanc on the pitch"
Being compared to the World Cup winning French legend and current national team coach is extremely high praise indeed and we can only hope that it signals more minutes for the ex-Lens starlet during Real Madrid's crowded, hectic April fixture list. Mourinho has been easing Varane into the line-up all season, favoring the comfort of the Bernabeu to insert him into the starting XI on most occasions. But now I'm wondering if that will change because as Mourinho (as well as many MM commenters) noted Varane's calmness and composure on the pitch are astonishing to behold in such a young man. I think he'll only benefit from playing time in harsh environments and I hope his substitute minutes in Pamplona were a harbinger of things to come. For instance, will he start against APOEL? That could at least give us a signal as to Mourinho's plans going forward.
Speaking of defenders who illicit a lot of commentary and reaction around these parts, Miguel Delaney has written a lengthy article in praise of Alvaro Arbeloa in the Irish Examiner that makes for a very interesting read. Delaney makes the case that Arbeloa is versatile and undervalued and he includes these comments from Jose Mourinho as evidence:
"Arbeloa is playing very well. He is taking a lot of risks by advancing his position more than usual. He is very serious on the pitch and does not make any mistakes. I like players like him"
Although, I think his willingness to advance is what riles and frustrates some Madridistas, particularly when players like Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and even Sergio Ramos can attack in a more natural, efficient manner. Delaney notes that Arbeloa has actually recorded 3 assists in 18 league matches this season, which is a more than respectable total for a full-back who isn't even an automatic first choice selection.
Finally, let's have a little fun with numbers. WhoScored.com has compiled their team-of-the-month for March and it includes, unsurprisingly enough, Cristiano Ronaldo. Just let some of these numbers sink in for a moment, as Cristiano recorded an amazing 43 shots on goal over the span of 6 league matches in March and another 17 in 2 Champions League contests, for a grand total of 60 shots on goal. I'd bet that's more shots than some entire Serie A sides had on goal last month and it's not even like CR7 is being greedy because he has provided excellent service to go with his deadly finishing, most recently with his beautiful cross on Saturday to set-up Karim Benzema's incredible volley for the opening strike.
This is another big week for los Blancos. Tell us what's on your minds, Madridistas.
Please be sure to follow Managing Madrid on Facebook and stay connected to all of the Madrid related chatter on Twitter @managingmadrid. Don't forget to check out the Managing Madrid podcast which is available on iTunes.