The FIFA world cup is literally here. It starts this weekend in Qatar. Real Madrid players have left for the world cup, trailing Barcelona by two points in LaLiga while Liverpool is waiting for Los Blancos in the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 next year. The sporting challenges are mammoth-sized when Real Madrid resumes this one-of-a-kind season on new year’s eve vs Valladolid away from home. However, there is some work to do during the world cup.
Fixing the Bernabeu pitch
The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is a matter of immense pride for everyone who loves Real Madrid. After the renovations, it is promised to be the best football arena in the world. Florentino Perez wants the Bernabeu to be at the center of sporting excellence. But while the renovations are going on outside the stadium, all is not well inside.
Stretching back to September, the pitch at Santiago Bernabeu has been far from its usual pristine condition. Dry and bald patches were visible throughout the last few games Real Madrid hosted. It has been a point of discussion in pre and post-match discussions. For a club like Real Madrid, it is a bit of an embarrassment.
Real Madrid would get an 80-day period from their last game before the World Cup game to the next home game after the global event. The Madrid bosses have assured they would utilize this time to bring the pitch back to its usual top-notch condition. This is one of the most significant issues that Madrid needs to resolve during the world cup. Another poor pitch after the world cup would be inexcusable and disappointing.
The Pintus Routine
Real Madrid have important squad members such as Toni Kroos, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy, Nacho, and Lucas Vazquez who are not playing in the world cup. The brutal nature of this particular season means Madrid would need these players in optimal physical condition more than anyone when their battered and bruised colleagues return from Qatar with the mental and physical strain of a world cup.
Antonio Pintus is rumoured to have designed a mini pre-season for these players during this break. Before that, Carlo Ancelotti has allowed the players some downtime. But Pintus remains vigilant, even when the players will be on vacation, making sure they do not let go of the level they need to be in when Real Madrid goes back to fighting for all possible titles next year.
Resolve Kroos’ future
Real Madrid legend Toni Kroos is arguably in the best form of his life right now. But just like the many other unique things about Kroos, his future as a footballer is a mystery. Kroos’ contract expires in June 2023. The player has neither committed to a renewal nor expressed a firm desire to retire at the of the season. Kroos has reiterated many times that he wants to retire as a Real Madrid player. But we don’t know the timeline for it. Kroos recently mentioned he might sit with the club in January to begin talks.
The world cup break is a good opportunity for Madrid to go into this pending meeting with clarity regarding the player’s future. Toni Kroos is still at the top of his game. Regardless of the roster planning for summer 2023, renewing Kroos should be a priority.