La Liga Preview: Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid’s Defensive Abilities

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La Liga Preview: Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid’s Defensive Abilities
Last season, La Liga was dominated by two big clubs, as Barcelona won the League while Real Madrid got the runners-up spot. The rest of the clubs were simply unable to challenge the authority of these two archrivals.
The real strength for both these clubs was their attack, as Madrid scored 102 goals in La Liga, while Barcelona scored a total of 98 goals in the League. Although Madrid had a better scoring record than their rivals, they were let down by their defenders. A total of 35 goals were scored against them, and 18 of those goals were scored in their own backyard, Bernabeu. Although they were second only to Barcelona, who gave away only 24 goals, the situation could have been worse if Iker Casillas was not present in their squad. The world’s best goalkeeper saved his team on a number of occasions, when the defenders were mostly clueless.
This season, under the new coach Jose Mourinho, the defence is supposed to improve. Mourinho has a history of defending strong, as he does not like to concede a lot of goals. Previously, however, he did not like to score many as well, but this attitude might change with his new club. After coming to Bernabeu, Jose Mourinho has made only one big addition in his defensive squad, the recent signing of Ricardo Carvalho from Chelsea. Apart from him, the other defenders include Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa, Raul Albiol and Ezequiel Garay. Also, a few defensive style players would be played in the midfield by Mourinho, to improve his team’s abilities to stop goals.
Amongst all these players, Sergio Ramos is the most well-known figure. He came to Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005 after the payment of a record transfer fee for a Spanish player in La Liga at that time. Afterwards, he grew into an established right back, and made his way into the Spanish team as well. Recently, he was a member of Spain’s World Cup winning squad as well. As a defender, Ramos is known for his great stamina and vigorous defending. Also, he is keen to attack as well, which provides width to his Madrid side as well. He can always score a few goals and make some assists as well. The only problem with him seems to be his lack of composure, especially under pressure, which results in a lot of red cards for the defender.
In the central defence position, Madrid has a player in the form of Pepe. Pepe is a strong presence in defence for Madrid, as he loves the physical game. He is often spotted as doing shoulder charges on opposition teams, always overpowering teams owing to his big stature. However, Pepe does commit a lot of fouls and is also temperamental in nature. Also, he is not known for scoring goals from set-pieces, which makes him a little useless in attacking as well. Nevertheless, he is the one who is entrusted with the duty to protect Madrid’s goal, a job which he will have to do in the best possible way.
Partnering up with Pepe in the centre would either be Ricardo Carvalho or Raul Albiol. Carvalho is a recent signing, but he is getting old and there is only so much football left in him. On the other hand, Albiol is still young and strong. He is, however, a versatile player, who can always play as a defensive midfielder or in the right back position. He is also taller than Carvalho, which makes him a better option in defending the set-pieces.
On the left back position, Madrid again has two options in Marcelo and Arbeloa. Both these players provide width on left side, because of a greater tendency to attack. In defence, however, they are not quite as good as Ramos on the right side. This position, probably, is the weakest position in Madrid’s defensive wall.
Although the preparations seem to be over for next season, it looks like Mourinho could have done better. Things have not improved for him, as everything (almost) stays the same. Apart from a few names like Ramos, Pepe and Carvalho, there is hardly any established defender in their team. Therefore, in the next season, it is highly likely that Mourinho will play a few defensive players in the midfield to cover up his weaknesses.



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