After a perfect defensive display, Barcelona returned for the second leg at the Nou Camp stronger, lining up with Messi and Iniesta searching for more shiny objects. But once again the defensive box stood strong and the only goal conceded in a 2-1 victory was from a corner. With Di Maria entering the line up as a winger we looked to stretch and exploit the space behind Dani Alves, no surprise he came off with the man of the match award.
With the big start out of the way it was down to the bread and butter of the league, a campaign I was favourite along with Barcelona to dominate.
But after the first two games it was clear that my system although defensively solid was not enjoying the attacking prowess that the players in the system should enjoy.
It wasn’t something that had just crept up on my the signs were all there in the friendlies, but I chose to ignore them putting it down to team blending and bedding in of the tactics. My front line didn’t seem to be moving as expected, the fluid movement that comes with creativity and flair just wasn’t coming together.
The game that followed the Super Cup was a frustrating 0-0 draw against Zaragoza. The system is designed to get the ball up to the flair players quickly with plenty of through balls and give a lot of freedom to these players to make use of their high flair and creativity a goalless draw at home against a side I am expected to walk over isn’t what I wanted from my first game.
You have already seen the defensive box were the 4 central players create in order to keep things tight at the back but on the attack Alonso and Sahin are also expected to be playmakers putting the ball into the path of the attacking players with plenty of through balls. Rossi will come back to link up with Ronaldo and Kaka behind him who will be running in the channels to create many goalscoring opportunities with Ozil. Rossi playing more of a number 10 role while Kaka a number 9.
Rossi I sought purposefully as what I was looking for was a Rooney type player, able to lead the line, but a good passer and able to create goals and link up with the rest of the team. High creativity and flair, decent passer and great in front of goal. £35 million for the man just looked a bargain to me.
In the system that relies heavily on flair and creativity Rossi looked to be the missing piece in the jigsaw to bring the whole front 4 together. Higuain and Benzema are more than credible candidates for any title challenge but won’t suit me as certain starters in what I was attempting to build, they will offer me something different though especially when I want to be a little more direct.
Ozil is an amazing advanced playmaker. Passing, decisions, anticipation, dribbling, off the ball, creativity and flair makes him immense. Able to play on the left and come inside to create and pass the ball in front of the back four. But with playing Ozil out wide I needed to find someone else to play through the middle. Que the return of Kaka to the Real Madrid side.
With the lack of any other player to put behind the striker with Ozil out wide I went with Kaka. But he looks a worthy replacement, able to create things for Rossi and Ronaldo but to run into the channels and score goals himself. The key is that he comes from deep to make use of the space given to him from the movement of the rest of the players.
Which leaves Ronaldo to play on the right and this is where all the problems start.
What is expected from the three behind the strikers is high teamwork and work rate to interact with each other well drag defenders out and bust a gut to create and score. Something we don’t get from Ronaldo or Ozil so on the wings we didn’t have anyone wanting to bust a gut to get forward or Ronaldo working together with the rest of the team and the system failed to produce the fluid football I was looking for.
But my worse problem was Ronaldo and his selfish nature. First two games of the season starting with Zaragoza he would get the ball and run into the defenders, or get any sight of goal and just shoot.
Against Getafe though was something a bit different. Alonso and Rossi put 3 goals in between them, despite the win the biggest name on the pitch Ronaldo wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do. Not playing anyone else in and wasting his own opportunities.
A look through Ronaldo’s profile it is easy to see why we were having this issue.
From the two games, Ronaldo with his PPM’s of ‘Shoot from Distance’, ‘Tries First Time Shots’ coupled with his low creativity but high flair meant that the creative freedom given to Ronaldo meant that when he got the ball all he wanted to do was shoot from the most outlandish situations at times.
This lead to too many wasted opportunities. He was also not linking up, or moving fluidly with the rest of the team.
Looking at the squad again, I come to realise that Ronaldo could be a better number 9 then Kaka was expected to be, being the player we wanted to score the goals fire and foremost. Able to come back and create his own chances as well as profiting from the creativity behind him
Sticking Ronaldo into the middle up front would also mean that he was automatically in a central position to take advantage of his long shot ability and his need to want to keep testing the keeper. I’d suggest any player shooting from long often with power will be less accurate out wide then he would be through the middle.
But it also allowed to put a harder worker, more creative player out wide, Di Maria, making the players behind the striker a lot more fluid and creative.
The result 32 goals in the 14 games and football that is a joy to watch as Rossi, Di Maria and Ozil look to pop the ball all around the box, create and entertain while Ronaldo all he wants to do is put the ball into the back of the net. Whether that is something he has created himself or by those moving behind him.
Giving Ronaldo a supporting role also helps him link up with the rest of the midfield dropping back to find himself space. He will then run at the defenders scaring them as he hit speed towards them or turning into the space to jinxs before firing the ball into the back of the net.
This video is Ronaldo’s first game in the middle and his best bits from that game. For some reason although I took the video my game didn’t save. I still went back to play again and Ronaldo put away three again.
So where is Ronaldo’s best position? I think that all depends on how you want the rest of your team to play.