Friday, September 14, 2012
Interview with Corey from realmadridfootballblog
Hey everyone, I've interviewed Corey from www.realmadridfootballblog.com and he is a Real Madrid supporter for about 12 years. He is also the creator of the website above and along with few other people write primarily reports and editorials about Real Madrid.
• How long have you been a supporter of Real Madrid and what prompted you to become one?
I have been a supporter for twelve years now, and what prompted me to be a supporter is a combination of the first ever live soccer game I saw on television between Real Madrid and Valencia in the Champions League final, and the first soccer game I got for the Playstation, FIFA 2002 where I chose Real Madrid to play as because I saw that game. As an impressionable 12 year old I was quite taken with the white uniforms, star players and huge stadium. As I got a little older I started my research on the club and after reading as much as I could it further cemented that I was a Madridista. I started blogging about Real Madrid five years, which is a whole other story.
• Are you a fan of any other clubs?
I enjoy teams that play the brand of football I subscribe too. Borussia Dortmund and Lyon have always had a soft spot in my heart as they were both strong and attractive clubs right around the time I became a supporter of Real Madrid. Luckily Dortmund has returned to that tradition, while Lyon is in a transitional phase. It is interesting because Lyon in the 2000s looked like Dortmund in the 1990s, so with the resurgence of Dortmund due to sound financial management and a focus on the youth team, Lyon may surprise people again in a few years.
• How long have you been writing about Real Madrid?
Five years, first at the Offside (now defunct) before it was bought up by a sports blog conglomerate. I launch Real Madrid Football Blog a year and a half ago and I think it has been a great success and a whole lot of fun
• Last season Real Madrid won the Spanish League after a noteworthy pause, what was your reaction and what do you think were the key reasons for it?
My first reaction was one of joy, as it had been a frustrating drought, especially when the title goes to Barcelona. My second reaction, as most Madridista’s probably had, was to think of La Decima. Finally, I settled on the fact that Mourinho’s tenure has been stable, has produced titles, and is slowly but surely giving chances to academy players, while making necessary but not totally extravagant signings. Overall I am satisfied, but once we get more youth team players in the squad and reach La Decima I will be overjoyed.
• Real Madrid had a rather bad start to the season, with only 1 point out of 2 matches, though after the Super Cup win they seem to have bounced up. Was this just a rare temporary hiccup or are there more deep underlying problems?
I watched both games, and the Valencia game was close and a point given the difficult rival and the newness of the season seemed fine. The Getafe lose was tough to stomach, but they always ride us close at their stadium, and the team looked a little short on ideas. Mourinho’s substitutions did not help, but it happens. We did not start last season well either but we recovered. I would rather hammer out the kinks now than when the Champions League group stage begins and we have two tough games per week.
• How does this season’s Real Madrid team compare to last season’s and what are the key differences?
The key difference is Modric, but the Ronaldo drama may prove otherwise. Loosing Granero was a bit of a blow, and if Modric is used further forward there is still the issue of giving rest to Xabi Alonso. The defence looks settled, as does the rest of the team, but Mourinho seems to think the creativity of Ozil can often be subdued in certain types of games so he has another type of player to help with the heavy load. I think the team is stronger, but I would have liked to have kept Carvajal as backup to Arbeloa, who is an obvious weak spot, and hopefully Morata, Nacho and Alex will see some time.
• Kaka and more recently Cristiano Ronaldo seem to have some problems with the club, what would you say the reasons for this are and what are the solutions?
I think in Kaka’s case, his body never recovered from his knee injuries in the same way Ronaldo Fenomeno never fully recovered his physical prowess after his multiple knee injuries. Ronaldo Fenomeno was able to still be productive for a few more seasons, but in Kaka’s instance, he came in to a difficult situation where he was not the main player the team was built around, nor was he a guaranteed starter. To me he has failed to psychologically get passed this, and his performances have wavered between tolerable and awful. It is not easy when your coach is not 100% behind you and the fans get on you, but his flirting with moves away has not helped. I never saw the need for both Kaka and Cristiano, so if we were to offload Kaka it would not bother me.
Cristiano’s situation is odd, but I do think he will get the pay increase he wants and surely warrants. Not sure what the wait is, but there is some deception from the agent at hand I am sure, and the complicated nature of his contract may be hard to sort out, much like how Kaka’s move to Milan was not feasible due to tax concerns. It is obvious Cristiano is the most important member of the team, so give him what he wants.
• Real Madrid has two great strikers in Benzema and Higuain, who would you say should be the starter?
Higuain, as he has proven time and again he can get the job done, but there are situations where Benzema’s movement off the ball and link up with others is more useful. His finishing is still not what it should be, but the nice thing is that there is truly room for both.
• Do you think RM sold/released too many players this transfer season and lack depth now and what are the alternatives to Ronaldo, Ozil, Xabi and Arbeloa?
I was hoping they would hold on to Granero, and moving Lass to Anzhi and bringing in Essien seems like a downgrade to me. Carvalho is technically out of the picture as well, while as I said earlier, Carvajal could have been a real asset. Arbeloa’s alternative looks to be Nacho, while Ozil will share time with Modric, and hopefully Modric fills in for Xabi as well. Ronaldo does not really need an alternative, but using Benzema or Di Maria there is adequate coverage. More will be expected from Callejon if that situation arises. Not sure where Essien fits in given Khedira is a much better player at this point in their respective careers, and Kaka is an outsider as well.
• Who would you say is Real Madrid’s most influential player and the weakest player?
Our weakest player is probably Arbeloa, but he is a hell of a competitor and really boosts team morale being as vocal as he is. Pepe’s penchant for full blooded challenges makes him a weakness as well, while I do think Xabi’s powers are declining and that is of concern. The most influential player has to be Cristiano, but Xabi makes the team tick so he should be considered influential and Saint Iker is a living legend at this point.
• Who is going to be Real Madrid’s key player this season?
Tough to say given the early season issues with Ronaldo. I would like to see more starts and goals out of both Higuain and Di Maria, while Sergio Ramos continues to be a rock at the back.
• What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of your team this season?
Strength wise the attack is just as sharp and the addition of Modric adds another dimension. A weakness would be the lack of variation in central midfielder amongst the players, and the right back situation is tricky, while Albiol does not instill confidence as a backup anymore.
• Any young players to watch out for that could be on a “break-out year”?
Morata is practically a first team player at this point so he could have a break out year, while Nacho is fourth choice center back at this point. If the situation arises, several Castilla players could get call ups to fill out the squad, but I think Jese has star power along with Morata. I would hope Raul De Tomas and Jose Rodriguez get some time training with the first team as they both look like tidy players.
• Can Real Madrid win this season’s Champions League, what would be the biggest obstacles in doing so and what about the Spanish cup?
I think that give the group we have drawn, it will be very difficult. But if Real can survive the group, they should be mentally prepared to go all the way. The beauty of the Champions League is that you face the best teams of Europe on the way to becoming champion. That has not always been the case, but this year that is how Real Madrid will start its campaign. The Spanish Cup I think will once again become a low priority, and I would like to see some Castilla players get time in these games once again. But it is a trophy up for grabs and will not be taken to lightly!
• How good do you think Valencia will do this season? Is it feasible to think that Valencia could win the Spanish championship or at least challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid?
It depends how you view ‘challenging’ Real and Barcelona. I have plenty of doubts about Pellegrino, who has very little experience, but Valencia has a good squad and played both Barca and Real close early in the season. Valencia usually has trouble keeping pace through the winter months, and with a Champions League campaign to also consider, I fear the same will happen again. The squad is deep as usual, but often the depth is not trusted.
• What do you think are Valencia’s strengths and weaknesses?
Depth is certainly one, and they have quality in all of their lines. Victor Ruiz has improved since joining from Napoli and I expect a national team spot for him soon. Rami is physically strong but also error prone, while the midfield and forward lines are of high quality. There are several players to name, but Soldado, Feghouli and Jonas certainly stand out, while Banega returning will be a big boost. I do not rate Fernando Gago at all, but he may be an upgrade over the aging Albelda, and Guardado will cover his flank well.
In terms of a weakness I would say the full backs, particularly Mathieu and Cissokho on the left are prone to errors and questionable attitude, probably why Guardado was required as he will shield them well. However Joao Perreria looks to be a very solid player on the right, a huge upgrade over Miguel and Bruno from seasons past.
• Who do you think will win the Champions League and Europa League this season?
The Champions League to me will be between Real Madrid and Juventus. I think Barcelona will come up a little short given Tito Villanova’s lack of experience here, although in the league Barcelona will be stronger than last year. Juventus looks incredibly strong this season even without their head coach being able to sit on the bench, while a dark horse could be Bayern Munich as they always do well in this competition.
The Europa League is impossible to predict and I cannot with certainty say who would win it, but I would say there are some teams with great pedigree like Lyon, Inter Milan, Sporting and PSV that have done well in the competition before. Besides that group, Anzhi, Napoli, and last year’s finalists Atletico and Athletic will be in the mix as well, and although I do not rate them, Liverpool are a big side for this competition. With so many teams in the mix you would be wise to wait until the first knockout round to pick a winner, its just to unpredictable.
I'd like to thank Corey again for taking the time to answer my questions, I really apreciate it and once again you can find Corey's articles about Real Madrid at www.realmadridfootballblog.com