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Open Thread: November 21, 2021

Our Matchday issue of the Daily Merengue!

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.

It’s Matchday!

Real Madrid’s season is finally back after what seemed to be two months, though it was only two weeks.

Last time we saw Los Blancos they picked up some momentum in a 2-1 victory over a decent Rayo Vallecano. Ancelotti switched up tactics from the previous Shakhtar match where he accurately anticipated the Ukrainian side setting up to pass through the press. Accordingly he instructed the team to stay compact until they won the ball in the middle. Against Vallecano the lines were pushed up and the midfield effectively dominated possession. It was sharp, high tempo, classic Real Madrid attacking football from the start until around minute 75.

Eduardo Camavinga got a start in the right midfield position and played well. Toni Kroos was man of the match with a laser goal and a goal-line clearance towards the end of full time.

David Alaba delivered a diamond of an assist to Benzema for the eventual game winner.

However, in the last 15 to 20 minutes of the game Real Madrid allowed their intensity to drop. Rademel Falcao put in a header goal that was all too easy. Finishing games off strong is something Real Madrid will seek to improve on and that will be something key to watch.

Hala Madrid!

Ole Gunnar Solskjær to be sacked

The article is saying that the Glazers hope Zinedine Zidane will take over.

What do you all think about that?

“Thank you, but no.” Manchester United were built stylistically in the shadow cast by Sir Alex Ferguson. Football has changed since 2012. His influence seems to be always lurking behind the scenes and it’s a difficult legacy to breathe under. One can see why the club eventually settled on the inexperienced Solskaer under those circumstances. It wasn’t even fair to Ole. This environment produced a flawed model, personnel-wise and team ethos-wise.

Man U’s center-back core, apart from Varane, get exposed because — at least in part — they are too slow and immobile. Harry Maguire’s turning speed is like a WWII battleship’s; yet the owners probably will keep him because of how much they paid. Even central defenders cannot get by today with being somewhat immobile.

Another of that club’s key issues is the leadership dynamic, a problem extending well beyond the period of Solskaer. The managers all seem to have trouble being stern with the big egos when they are poor. If they get benched, they sulk. Further, where there used to be Roy Keane, there’s now no veteran core that youngsters look to for energy and intensity, or for a steady hand to guide them through troubles. Paul Pogba should be a rock of on-field leadership and organization of play — because he is their best and most experienced midfielder — but how can a player who downtools and gives poor efforts frequently be that leader? Even with a new manager, old habits die hard. Bruno Fernandes would probably be a capable leadership figure, but there have been rumors and suggestions that he bristles with some other big ego players on the team. It’s been suggested about Fernandez’ assertion of himself as leader that other players feel that being newer to the team he is not in the natural position to take the reins. It is also a strange situation for the dressing room to have Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani looking to start with all of their high level experience, and yet sitting next to them is a host of strikers who should be getting quality minutes as they enter their prime years: Rashford, Greenwood, Martial, and Sancho.

A fresh beginning, a building of the mindset from the ground up, is in order. That can’t be done midseason even by a world class manager with the stature of Zidane.

Donny van de Beek vs Watford

Speaking of Man United, the highly mobile, former Ajax midfielder had a strong showing. Perhaps at some point he will become available.

Kun Aguero is retiring

The great Argentine striker has a heart condition that does not allow him to keep playing. He might have played for some of our arch-enemies, but that is still a heart-wrenching way to go out. He will not be soon forgotten.