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Open Thread: October 14, 2021

Our Thursday issue of the Daily Merengue!

Real Madrid F.C.

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail, Ezek Ix or NeRObutBlanco.

A reminder about Los Blancos’ next match

The daily hard work is on

Real Madrid’s twitter shared some footage of Mendy, Kroos and others in the weight room.

Eder Militao appreciation

It has gone a bit under the radar, but Eder Militao has accomplished the difficult task of solidifying his spot as the starting right center back for Los Blancos. With how much Real Madrid put forward on the attack, especially under Ancelotti, it is no easy task to provide the team strength from this position. He could direct a few more headers on goal, but he is coming in to fill the shoes of some great center-backs and his knowledge through experience is only growing. This is something for Madridistas to be excited about for the long term.

He has picked up a bit of a hamstring, as MM reported here. He is not ruled out for Shaktar.

MARCA: Antonio Rudiger is on the radar

S. Siguero makes a compelling case for how the German center back could help this team and be a convenient signing.

The Chelsea defender has two key factors in his favour which make him stand out from the other options being weighed up by the club.

Firstly, there is the economic side of things as Los Blancos are still suffering the effects of the pandemic. The German’s contract with the London club is set to expire at the end of the current season and it seems there is a sizeable distance between the player and the club when it comes to renewal talks.

That opens the door for a David Alaba type situation, who similarly didn’t reach an agreement with Bayern Munich and was ultimately able to leave under freedom of contract. Whether Real Madrid would prefer a free transfer in the summer or a cut-price deal in January remains to be seen.

The other key reason why Los Blancos are interested is because at 28 years old this is an experienced, quality player in the prime of his career. With the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid feel they are still lacking in defence, despite the arrival of Alaba.

Real Madrid’s left back situation gets stronger

Was it a figment of our imaginations or did Barca pick up Aguero in the summer?

A selection from Mandis’ The Real Madrid Way

Speaking of number 9s, this passage has been posted before here, but I still like to read it with a mind to building the team for greatness. It seems impossible that we will ever see another like Ronaldo.

When Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real Madrid, he was twenty-four years old, several years younger than Di Stefano. By the age of twenty-two, in 2007, Ronaldo had received Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the year nominations. The following year he won his first Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Typically it takes some time for a new young player to absorb and appreciate the expectations of the Real Madrid community. According to the coaches, Ronaldo has always been an incredibly hard worker and practices and trains with as much intensity as he plays in a game. All the coaches talk about how he sets a marvelous example and has an incredible winning mentality. His sculpted body is a visible reminder to his teammates and community members of his dedication and commitment.

Cristiano Ronaldo practices in three key areas: tactical (awareness, understanding, decision making, and goal-scoring scenarios), physical (speed, strength, stamina, and agility), and technical (the basics, passing, shooting, moves, turns, and other skills to dominate one to one). He is constantly working on one-touch and two-touch plays (with many repetitions at a time), plus the moves to become unpredictable and therefore very hard to defend against. He spends time in the video room studying the tendencies of other players. The coaches add that Ronaldo has the “personality,” winning mentality, and attitude.

The coaches pointed out that what goes unnoticed on the field is how he has adjusted his game to increase the effectiveness of the team as a whole. He has learned to create space and use the physicality he has added to his body and game to give his teammates more opportunities. The coaches described how he made slight adjustments to help the overall team when Bale joined. All the players said he was a great teammate and knew when and how to diffuse the pressure with a good sense of humor or unite the team with playful rituals (for example, Ronaldo’s and the team’s war cry is “Siiiiiiii”). He grew into a respected teammate and leader by example and consequently won the Ballon d’Or in 2013 and 2014. Although he is known for scoring goals, he also quietly assists and sets up his teammates, enabling them to score. In 2014-2015, he was Real Madrid’s top assist provider with twenty-two in fifty four appearances. Even without the ball, Ronaldo helps the team. The coaches pointed to the extra possessions Ronaldo creates for his team with his speed and intensity by pressuring goalies or defensive players to make quick, long passes that are often unsuccessful. His dominant presence as a scoring and assist threat causes defensive players to have to stay close to him (a pull like gravity) that creates space and opportunities for his teammates. The coaches praised him for how he helped James fit into the team, and James was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Ronaldo’s assists. The coaches describe Ronaldo as feeling a deep personal responsibility to everyone if he doesn’t perform at the highest standards that he expects from himself, like he is letting down the people he loves. They say this passion is very rare for a player with his extraordinary talent and success.

Beyond the incredible skills, what Ronaldo contributes to the team is an extraordinary work ethic. It is difficult for a coach to constantly tell star players what to do and to push them. Ronaldo sets the example for the hard work so the coach doesn’t have to motivate stars to work hard in practice. [...] The younger players mimic his good habits.

Mandis, Steven G. “The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet.” Pages 178-179. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books Inc., 2016.