Football Weekly Analyzes The Match
The following profoundly deep exchange about possible tactics employed by Manchester United against Real Madrid was to be heard on the highly recommended Guardian Football Weekly this morning - one of the more brilliant, if occasionally frivolous, podcasts available online.
The transcript was taken down by me as it was spoken because it should be preserved as a classic of football tactical discussion and analysis.
James Richardson (AC Jimbo): You mention Phil Jones there. Of course he's now the big United tactical weapon. You're facing Gareth Bale, you play your Phil Jones card. You're facing Marouane Fellaini, you play your Phil Jones card. Can you do that to Ronaldo though?
Michael Cox: Well I think it would probably help and it won't be dissimilar to the way he played against Bale. Since he's playing in central midfield so he has to help his right full-back.
AC Jimbo: Tactical question from a reader: If you do that against Spurs there's only so many other weapons they can hit you with. If you do it against Real you're leaving yourself a man short against Ozil and all the others.
Michael Cox: Yeah. And it was notable against Tottenham that whilst they concentrated on stopping Tottenham's left I thought Tottenham's best player was Lennon on the other side who had so much space and with di Maria and Ozil that will be dangerous.
Barney Ronay: Well I tried to do some Maths on this because I actually read Michael [Cox]'s piece and I was thinking about that and basically it works. If you're playing as a better team Ferguson's calculation is: Man United minus Jones is greater than Everton minus Fellaini. So that's fine, that sort of works. So then you're asking is United minus Jones better than Madrid minus Cristiano Ronaldo? But obviously it is more complicated than that because what you're actually saying is: the Real Madrid midfield is obviously so much greater than the Manchester United midfield minus Jones. And the question is, if that equals (x)...
AC Jimbo: So what you're saying is the net difference between United minus Jones and Real Madrid minus Ronaldo...
Barney Ronay: Uh. Yeah. Is that quality greater than Manchester United minus Jones minus Real Madrid minus Cristiano Ronaldo...
AC Jimbo: Michael, stop him.
Barney Ronay: ...Which is further complicated by the fact that they're playing away from home so they're going to be doing a lot of defending anyway...
Gregg Bakowski: And away goals count double so you've got to times everything by two.
Barnay Ronay: It's impossible, there's no end to it...
Incidentally, written up mathematically, I believe Ronay's equation looks something like this:
[(Real Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo) + Real Madrid midfield] > [(Man United - Jones) - Manchester United midfield.]
But I failed Maths so readers are invited to correct or refine my mathematical equation in the comments.
Less Complex Issues
The referee has been chosen by UEFA and he is German. Thankfully, it is not Wolfgang Stark but Felix Brych. Those who follow the Bundesliga consider him less worthy of the annual "Wooden Whistle" award, but generally a very strict disciplinarian. He is a lawyer, 38 years old and can preemptively consider himself The Special One's Nemesis.
Gonzalo Higuain spoke with BWIN today. He believes that Madrid are strongest on the break and have a very good chance of going through.
Meanwhile, the man on everyone's mind, Cristiano Ronaldo, met up with others who are in the top 10 Real Madrid scorers list. Among them was Gento, who displayed the ball that he used to play with and quipped that "when it was wet, it weighed 300 pounds." He also added:
Watching Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch is a delight. He’s a unique player that will mark a period with all of the goals he’s scoring. I would have loved to have played with him.
Ronaldo, who dreamt of playing for Madrid as a child, told the journalist present:
It’s an honor to be one of these legendary scorers and to be one of the top-scorers. To make this list in the short time I’ve been with the club, to see my name associated with these players is a reason to be proud, motivated and happy.
Those visiting for the day (Pirri, Butragueño, Gento and Amancio) were full of praise for CR7, who managed to gain a spot in the top 10 in record time.
Club legend (and defensive midfielder!) Pirri:
He’s a fantastic player. Not only is he a born striker with both feet but for me he’s also the most complete player in the world. He’s powerful, fast, vertical, he jumps high for headers, he’s got a great strike and an enormous ability on the sides, he works hard, defends…
But perhaps the best description of what Ronaldo brings to Real Madrid came from Emilio Butragueño:
Having a player that guarantees a goal per game is a problem for rivals because it means that they have to score two to win. Very few teams throughout history can claim the same. I hope he stays that way for years because he’s very important to us.
Those who visit this site are encouraged to visit Realmadrid.com to read the full details in the story - "Cristiano Ronaldo is Already a Club Legend" - and look at the specially fitted out dressing room - with the lockers on either side of Ronaldo fitted out for the club legends with their pictures and jerseys.