Cristiano Ronaldo can only be upset with himself for substitution, says Guillem Balague
Last Updated: 26/09/16 8:00pm
Cristiano Ronaldo can only be upset with himself, not manager Zinedine Zidane, after being subbed during Real Madrid's 2-2 draw at Las Palmas on Saturday, says Guillem Balague.
Zinedine Zidane is not a coach who builds a team based on tactical variations. He creates a world in which the stars are comfortable, that's his secret.
Sometimes they defend high, sometimes deep, sometimes they attack down the wing, sometimes through the middle, but that's not down to a plan, that's down to the quality of the players.
You could see against Las Palmas that they had enough to beat them. They had 26 shots on goal, they should have never lost the game, they deserved the three points. But credit to Las Palmas for sticking to their principles even though it seemed to everybody it left them short against Real. Sometimes luck is in your side.
In that game we saw something unique. It's the first time Ronaldo has been replaced at Real Madrid for tactical reasons. It's never happened before.
Only Zidane could do that, because nobody else is brave enough to do so, but Ronaldo is not in good form.
It is hard for him to beat defenders (he physically peaked at least a year ago, and Zidane's decision confirms it) but now he cannot even impose himself in the box. It is the first time he has been injured for two months so it will be a matter of time till we see a goalscoring Ronaldo.
Cristiano, as you would expect, was upset. He said big words to himself, and shook the hand of Zidane but didn't look at his face.
But Ronaldo should only be upset at himself. He's not in good form, he's peaked physically, and now I think Zidane is responding to that. He will be thinking that on Tuesday, Real have the champions league, and want him rested.
Rotation is the name of the game for the top three teams, and Ronaldo is going to be a part of that.
It can only be good for Ronaldo, because in the past three seasons towards the end of the campaign, he was very poor physically. It could be good news for Real Madrid too.
A competitive La Liga
This year we have seen how competitive the Spanish league is. With Alaves and Leganes drawing at Atletico, Alaves beating Barcelona, and Villarreal and Las Palmas drawing with Real, it just proves that it is still a difficult league, and it will become more and more difficult as clubs get more money to use wisely in the transfer market.
They cannot compete with the English teams, the middle class of English teams, the West Broms and Stokes of this world, but they can be intelligent in the transfer market and intelligent on the pitch. And we are seeing how that improves the domestic competition.
Sergi Roberto's rise
One name pops up from Barcelona's win at Sporting Gijon: Sergi Roberto.
He was excellent. He already has a much better percentage of successful crosses than Dani Alves - 55 per cent to 44 per cent of Alves last season - and with four assists he has already equalled Alves' from last season.
Luis Enrique has also said he does not see a better right-back than Sergi Roberto. It's interesting how Sergi Roberto decided not to leave Barcelona and fight for his position, and was seen as a good replacement in midfield for Iniesta or Xavi or Busquets.
But, in the end he started excelling at right-back. That is why it is important to understand the game, to have intelligent players. The Spanish press keeps speaking of Hector Bellerin, but Luis Enrique knows that with Sergi there he does not need a replacement.
Nasri's summer decision
It's true that Pep Guardiola said to Nasri that he could stay if he wanted, but there would be no guarantees that he would play every game.
Pep was impressed, having moved him aside with Yaya Toure in the first few days to shed some pounds. Guardiola feels that if his players are not fit, then the intensity of training means they are more likely to get injured.
Nasri got fit, and he's the thinnest he's ever been since he arrived at City. Nasri thought about staying, but he's in that point in his career where he needed to rekindle his love for the game. And the conversations with Sevilla were very advanced.
He thought at Sevilla he would be a star, he would be given a lot of time on the pitch. He was playing central midfield against Athletic Bilbao, sometimes starting off in his half and finishing it off in the other box.
This kind of intelligent player, I believe, is better used in central positions than out wide and Sevilla will allow him to do so.
So far Nasri is responding to the challenge; the question he asked was: 'Can I love football again? Can I be good enough to go back to City and claim a place in the lineup?'
If the answer was no, it would be a matter of going to the MLS, China or wherever. But if he does end up getting back to his best again, he will want to go back to City again and fight for his place.
Guillem answers your questions...
Brenz @MarkBrenzemaa - Real Madrid haven't been as fluent in their since Xabi Alonso and Di Maria were sold your thoughts...
Zidane doesn't prepare the team to have collective answers. He leads the players to have a lot of responsibility, and while Modric is in the side, it is a lot more fluent than when he's not.
I know what you're saying about Xabi Alonso and Di Maria, and although they won the Champions League, it was a very inconsistent Real Madrid. They finished third in La Liga. Even that Real didn't have the fluidity of years past.
Pranav Byatnal @PranavTH14 - your article last week stated that Suarez won't play all games this season, why?
The idea is to rotate. Mostly he will be replaced during games, as he was this weekend, and again that's only good for the top three teams. Resting is as important as these days as peaking physically.
Gourav Dam @GouravDam - your take on Las Palmas this season. Can they get their ticket to Europe?
I was trying to describe to the Revista team how Las Palmas play, and I said how they like in the first two thirds of the pitch they're in the bar, on a terrace, in the sun, enjoying some tapas and a big cigar, a little bit of a beer and relaxing. Pass, pass, pass, relaxing but aware.
But then, in the last third they apply pace and see a weakness in the rival. It's wonderful to see.
However, I don't think they have it in them to be in Europe yet, because there are other teams like Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, but certainly they're going to give us a lot of interesting football.
Shantanu @Shantanu3196 - Are Real Madrid after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? After it was reported that Robert Lewandowski will sign an extension.
Real Madrid thought about getting a new striker when it became clear that Lewandowski, who they wanted, was going to renew his contract.
However, Aubameyang wants to go to Madrid more than the other way around. If they wanted to, Real could have signed Aubameyang this summer, but it didn't happen, which suggests to me they do not want him. Alvaro Morata was preferred.