Saturday, December 15, 2007

Arjen Robben: Suffering from Anxiety to Impress

Arjen Robben, the 36 million euro summer signing, has once again injured himself.

I have heard great things about Robben and his immense potential, and as a newer fan to football, I have barely seen him play. It surprised me that Madrid would fork over over 30 million euros for a player who: 1) has an incredible history of injury 2) was injured at the time of the signing 3) was two years away from being a free transfer 4) was not needed, given Robinho's play out on the flank and the signing of Roysten Drenthe 5) was unhappy at Chelsea, and wanted to leave...why pay 36 million if he's given Madrid incredible bargaining power?

Apparently Robben has a lot of heart, and he has been trying too hard to get back on the pitch. He hurts himself, recovers, then pushes too hard when he returns, and hurts himself again. Madrid skipper Bernd Schuster summed it up best, "All this is simply a result of anxiety. He wants to play and demonstrate why he is here. That anxiety has worked against him. It's nothing serious, but we have to try and control it."

I beg to differ Bernd, it is serious. Your sporting directors decided to pay almost 40 million euros for a guy who seemed to have no other suitors, and it's time he started to pay some dividends. This is open message to Arjen: please slow down. Make your signing akin to Madrid paying big money for Sergio Ramos (which turned out to be a great signing) rather than becoming the next Nicolas Anelka, a £22m disaster who scored a whopping 8 goals (2 league) for Madrid before being cast away to PSG.

I hope Robben will overcome his physical problems and blossom into the promising winger he was at Chelsea. I've seen flashes of his play, and he can unsettle any defense with his speed when he's right.

The thought of Robben and Robinho on the flanks makes me giddy, but I'll wait to see it first. Robben has only been on the team a few months and he's already filled me with illusion only to dissapoint. I've learned my lesson and I'll let his play inspire me, if he can get ever get healthy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Beast Emerges...

As a fan of Madrid, few things make me happier while watching a game than seeing two names in the starting lineup, "Baptista, Julio."

A player with skill, power, finish, and endless heart, Julio Baptista has won me over for life. He can move to Barcelona and score the winning goal in the Champions League Final against Madrid, and I would smile and say, "This guy deserves it."

For all of you familiar with baseball, this guy has the courage of David Eckstein, but with a far greater skill set.

He is strong, possessing a thick, Roberto Carlos like build. He shows vision, with some precise long-range passes and through balls. He shows flair, as evidenced by his magnificent bicycle kick goal earlier this season. He shows power; some of his goals are pinpoint laser shots.

I know some naysayers will say he lacks touch and perhaps pace, but that's nick picking. The man is an asset to any club, with his positive attitude, play, and almost absolute deference to the club.

It's about time he got a few starts in a row, and I hope he takes off with the opportunity. I'd love to see him playing up front, where I feel his skills are best suited, but I'm happy just seeing him play.

Go ahead and say it, it sounds like a man-crush. Make no mistake, it is.

The man has shown what he can do, scoring 20 and 22 goals for Sevilla in 2003-05. I don't doubt that he could net 15-18 if given the same playing time an absolute like Raul or van Nistelrooy gets.

Bernd, continue to show the Beast the love. I love Guti's play, but I don't like his outbursts and sending-offs. I don't envy Schuster, it's not an easy job picking an 11 from 14-15 that are qualified. Julio is one of the 11 in my mind, and I hope he continues this all the way through to June.