On Ronaldo, Solari, Vinicius and Bale
A good Valladolid side, on the up this season and currently sitting in the European places, travel to the Bernabéu on Saturday to visit another team in poor health. Madrid showed signs of recovery in Melilla under the guidance of ‘doctor Solari’, but it remains to be seen how they fare in colder climes. Valladolid also roll into town with Ronaldo, an old friend who will sit alongside Florentino in the director’s box. People tell me that the former Madrid striker has shown surprise over how well his investment is going, and for Valladolid it has meant a shot of international fame, matched by a string of good results – and positivity. The Brazilian's arrival has brought improvements on the pitch.
Bale and Benzema
The Madrid fans wait anxiously. Florentino wields a degree of control over the sound of the Bernabéu and the mass of white that is the Fondo Sur, but for the first time many are questioning his management. The years of scrimping to modernise the stadium means there is a yearning for a better squad, and the departure of Zidane, and even Cristiano, makes more and more sense. The idea that Bale and Benzema will be enough to keep Madrid at the top is becoming a farce – serious doubts are being cast on Bale, above everyone else, because Benzema is like some kind of absent-minded enigma who does what he can but is not indulged as he once was.
Will Solari go with Bale or plump for Vinicius? That’s the big question we’ll be carrying into the Bernabéu. People want Vinicius, but that comes from the craving for a wake-up call, that desire to see something new. Sure enough, there is something special there but it needs to be put to the test; right now, however, improving on an uncommitted Bale (I’m sorry to say) and a flat Asensio doesn’t appear to be that great a feat. What we can be sure of is the defence, because there are no other options. The back four will have to be sharper than ever, because if Valladolid score first who knows what reaction could follow. The current situation no longer has room for mishaps.