The day after Real Madrid crushed Roma in their Champions League debut, some newspapers have written dull headlines mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. Well, amigos, just like Elsa sings in “Frozen”, it is time to let it go.
An idol will always be an idol, that’s for sure. But, collectively, Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid grows bolder and stronger than most of its version in recent years under Ronaldo’s baton and Zidane’s management. There is no key player now – at least, none comparable with the Portuguese in imposing fear, thus diminishing the certainty of triumphs. But there is more fluidity within the game where only sparks and individualities were expected. In the end, they shot 30 times on goal, with 11 of those on target to Olsen’s net.
Against a strong, but humane Roma, Luka Modric conducted Madrid’s victory as he’d had all his colleagues connected under GPS. The Croatian wizard played at Santiago Bernabéu as someone who wants to justify a World Cup Golden Ball that was disputable, to say the least. His engineering of passing and articulating Madrid’s offensive moves promises a new era when combined to Bale’s Boltian speed and Asensio’s humiliating skills.
And there is Isco, Twelve’s man of the match against Roma, who is now allowed to shoot free kicks in killer parabolics. His stunning first goal paralyzed Olsen and speaks volumes about the potential this Spanish side can develop this year, insofar as the players may reveal features that we don’t even know about, because Ronaldo monopolized everything.
It’s definitely hard to detect any problem in this formation – maybe that is the reason for remembering Cristiano Ronaldo so much. The rotation of keepers may take its toll in the future, as the Belgian Thibaut Courtois is surely a loose cannon.
But the competition improved Keylor Navas, who returned to the box last Wednesday and showed agility and timing. His humble, quiet personality under fire has not passed unnoticed in this early season, let alone his class. A former goalkeeper himself, Lopetegui refrains from saying which one he will favour. At this moment, he presumably loves both.
Real Madrid is about superlatives, as you know, but this is a strange cast. The offensive trio unites three outcasts from the last World Cup — only Marco Asensio went to Russia, always starting from the bench. That does not sound like Real Madrid at all. When Mariano Díaz got into the field, number 7 on his back, some fans might have had a hard time holding back self-deprecating jokes. But his right foot left no-one missing the Cristiano years, as the ball died in Olsen’s left angle.
Facing Espanyol at home should not be a challenge. Last time the Catalans won at the Bernabéu, Mariano Díaz was only three years-old. This time, they appear in sixth position, being one of the five clubs with seven points, three away from Real and five from Barcelona. Of course miracles may happen to this brave white’n’blue side, who have beaten Levante and Valencia so far, but there is so much enchantment going on with this “downsized” Madrid that White Logic is more likely to reign.