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Jose Juninho Edition: 19 Jan 2024

Another Jose Juninho Edition of the Daily Merengue

Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid CF - Copa del Rey Photo by Guillermo Martinez/NurPhoto via Getty Images


A Review of Real Madrid’s loss to Atletico Madrid at the CIVITAS Metropolitano in the Copa Del Rey Rd Quarterfinals.


Bienvenido al Jose Juninho Edition de The Daily Merengue — a place where you can feel free to discuss all things football. Do not be alarmed by the overt RMCF bias. It’s in the name!

Shoutout to the moderators who do a fantastic job, Valyrian Steel, KungFuZizou, NeRObutBlanco, Felipejack, and LONG LIVE JOSE Juninho!!!


Observation #1: The Midfield

“I was 20 yesterday; today I’m 56. Time flies and I think you will regret it if you don’t reach as high as you can reach”

Luka Modric is 38. He has reached as high as he can. He is a 5x CL Champion, a B’Dor winner, a La Liga Champion, and Croatian Legend. He is a Real Madrid legend. Forget that, he is a Football Legend. But time flies...

I want to say this in the most respectful way possible, but in no shape or form should Luka Modric have started this game in an advanced position of a midfield 4. In no shape or form should Luka Modric really be starting any games for Real Madrid unless they’re non-critical against bottom table clubs. In no shape or form should Luka Modric feature in a game that is characterized by our opponents physicality or athleticism. The past narrative of control simply isn’t true.

In this particular game, Real Madrid committed one of the same mistakes that was committed during our only other season loss. Luka Modric featured in an advanced role. And besides set pieces, he was anonymous. I’m not even sure if it’s fair to blame him because he simply seemed lost. He didn’t have the pace to track back or properly press the opposition. He couldn’t keep up with Vini / Rodrygo / Jude’s breaks forward. He simply can’t run which then forces others to be mindful of his positioning (i.e., Carvajal). If Carlo and co., want Modric to succeed then we need to adopt a slower approach. We need to slowly build up the field instead of this high-paced frantic verticality from Vini and Rodrygo. But is it worth crafting this team for a past legend? Probably not.

I know this is at times a hard pill to swallow and I do understand that Modric did deliver one sensational pass. But we have plenty of other players who can deliver creativity while actually being able to run. He’s 38 and it’s ok to be 38 and physically declining. It’s ok to be 35 and declining lol. It’s a shame because you know the moment where we really needed Modric, it was extra time and he was on the bench exhausted from a timid performance.

As stated by a pundit on ESPNFC in the video below, “Madrid bossed the first half, and did so with 10-men...let’s be honest, Luka Modric was only on the park for set pieces. He didn’t offer a lot a part from that.”

Even Kings Die...Thrones Rust”

Observation #2: Two Forwards

I am Jose Mourinho and I don’t change. I arrive with all my qualities and my defects.

There is a prevailing takeaway that Vini is a hot-head who can’t seem to control his emotions and needs to focus on “footie.” And in some ways this take rings true. Yes, Vini at times gets ahead of himself and hoodwinked into silly arguments with the refs, fans, and opposing players and staff. Yes, Vini’s yellow card in this game was horrifically stupid and somewhat leads to the Griezman’s goal (note: without the yellow card Vini likely fouls Griezman before he enters the box). Yes, even Vini recognizes that he is no angel, stating “I am no saint. Sometimes I talk too much. Sometimes I dribble when I shouldn’t. But I’m here to improve.”

But I think we as Real Madrid fans need to show a bit of patience and empathy.

For lack of a better phrase, Vinicius Jr. goes to war every single time he plays an away match and particularly at the Metropolitano. Before a ball was kicked, The Athletic reported that Atleti fans were chanting “Vini is a monkey.” One only needs to take a quick glance at Football Twitter prior to an Atleti game (example the SuperCopa match) to see Atleti accounts posting vile images of Vini as an animal, being hung, or wishing for him to be harmed. A commentator stated that you could close your eyes and still know when Vini touched the ball.

Again, Vini isn’t a saint. Vini has his defects like any man or woman. But you can only imagine the mind state of a 23 year old man who feels as if the world is against him and refuses to accept him while he simply performs his job.

(Note: Separately, there needs to be a more serious conversation on why La Liga / RFEF / even Real Madrid let this behavior persist. Whether La Liga likes it or not, their largest club predominantly features star black players and may feature more in the upcoming season (e.g., Davies / Mbappe). This is bad for the product).

“I am the rose. This is the concrete. And these are my damaged petals. Don’t ask me why. Thank God and ask me how.”

Observation #3: Bleh

I asked for 5 players, none of them arrived.

Ultimately, this game is this game. The team was obviously tired from the SuperCopa which led to various silly individual mistakes. I am a bit disappointed with our record in the CDR but I’d rather lose this than La Liga or the CL so there is still hope for an amazing season. Also the squad really played their hearts out. Even though we needed to chase three different Atleti leads, the team didn’t stop fighting. I want to give a quick shoutout to Lunin who will probably face a stark wave of criticism in the upcoming days. Yes, he made a mistake on I believe the 2nd goal (the Cama deflection goal). However, right before our tying second goal, Lunin made an incredible save on an Atleti counter where the majority of our team / midfield just stopped tracking back.

Let’s just get the squad rested and take on the truly legacy defining portion of our season.

— Jose Juninho

“Until Next Time”

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