TOURNAMENTS like the Club World Cup are often more closely related to the strictly commercial side of football than to football itself.
This tournament used to be played by major teams, but nowadays it has a much broader range of participants, including some that are almost unknown in the world of football.
The Intercontinental Cup represented different things, it was more of a battle between South America and Europe. However, I think that, when an Argentinian or Mexican team crosses the ocean, it has to think about the obligations that come with a clubs whole history.
And it is the same with Real Madrid: they cannot afford not to take a match seriously. There have already been upsets in the past, so I do not think they will just be seeking to parade themselves in front of other teams.
I think Carlo Ancelotti deserves a lot of the credit for Real Madrids current present. His strategies may look easy, but he managed to do something essential: he brought peace to the team.
In terms of play alone, Real Madrid used to be a side with too much tension among players. These days I find them more sober. I think signing some players gave them serenity.
Particularly in midfield, they have an amazing player like Toni Kroos. I always say that no one knows whether Kroos has good or bad ball control.
It’s impossible to find out because he never stops the ball! He always plays it with one touch! He is a peacemaker when it comes to play. He is so precise and he finds spaces so well that he never gambles with the ball, you never have to fight to get it.
He and James Rodriguez have the precision of two paramilitary snipers, they make impossible passes. Earlier, Real Madrid used to break very often. It sought to run quite far up-front, with all its players.
Now they are calmer, they position themselves well and they seek to get the ball back in line with their own needs: sometimes closer to the rival goal, sometimes further away.
They also have more players who are capable of surprising the rival defence, such as Isco, Modric or even Marcelo. And up-front, they have the explosive nature of Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema.
The team used to be a flying whirlwind, and now they look static. However, they suddenly explode up-front with all their might.
On the subject of Argentinian club San Lorenzo, another of the tournament’s top teams, I think they have improved in recent games. I know that a tournament like this generates a very special motivation among their players, but that can be a disadvantage if the team loses control.
You cannot possibly think that just running, which is what San Lorenzo have done in some matches, is enough to win. They have sometimes exercised great presence, fervour and fighting spirit in midfield, but without control.
One needs to bear in mind that Argentinian footballers are hugely competitive, but that they sometimes overdo it. When their determination fails to find resonance, they turn to character, and that sometimes brings great confusion.
Confusion is always an advantage for the rival team. However, when San Lorenzo play like a sober team, they play better. If a team positions itself well and manages the match with enough clarity to play, there is no reason why it should not dream of winning. Real Madrid will face an extremely difficult game. A match against one of Argentinas top teams is never easy.
Another major team that is set to play the Club World Cup is Mexico’s Cruz Azul. Mexican football has grown, and in recent years it has sought to play well. However, after playing a great World Cup in Brazil 2014, it is important for Mexico to build on that and brace their ideas.
Cruz Azul in particular have very good players, footballers with great personality, and an experienced, knowledgeable coach like Luis Fernando Tena. I think they will be tough for any rival. – (GMS)