Silly season in Spain has officially come to an end; earlier today Colombia’s World Cup sensation, Rodriguez, James Rodriguez, signed with reigning UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid, following a an eyewatering €80 million transfer from French side AS Monaco. Rodriguez was the feel good story of this just completed World Cup winning the Golden Boot (and arguably should have won the Golden Ball) contributing an eye watering 6 goals and 2 assists in 5 matches.
It is a transfer which comes hot off the heels of FC Barcelona’s €94 million move for the two time winner of the entirely unofficial (and equally nonexistent) “World Cup Bad Boy” award, Luis Suarez. And, it seems that once again Spain’s big two are embarking on another arms war to see who can out do the other. Speaking of outdoing the other these sort of moves allow us to take a look at La Liga’s big two, to see how they stack up offensively for the coming season.
The Champions League winners have certainly been the busier of the two in the absolutely massive signings department. With two since the World Cup ended, in the aforementioned James Rodriguez; and World Cup winning string puller Toni Kroos. The result is pretty much a midfield and forward line to die for.
If, Real Madrid are to play a 4-2-3-1 as it’s literally the only formation which would allow both Kroos and Rodriguez to be on the pitch at the same time as Bale and Ronaldo. You’d have the potential for Toni Kroos and Luka Modric (or Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira) to sit in front of the defenders. Ronaldo on the left, Rodriguez in the middle, and Gareth Bale on the right, with Karim Benzema sitting up top. It’s a 6 man rotation which would strike fear into any club in the world, and represents a near 60/40 split between Adidas and Nike wearers. Toni Kroos sports the Adidas 11pro, Xabi Alonso is now wearing the new Adidas Predator Instinct, and Rodriguez, Bale and Benzema all rely on the Adidas F50. On the Nike front Sami Khedira sports the Nike Magista Opus, Luka Modric is a long time Nike Mercurial Vapor wearer, and we all know Ronaldo is the face of the Nike range as was seen sporting a version of the new Nike Mercurial Superfly which lacked the dynamic mid-cut collar during Portugal’s World Cup cameo.
On the defensive front Barca have been quite busy this summer bringing in two new goalkeepers in Chile’s Claudio Bravo, and former Borussia Mönchengladbach man Marc-Andre ter Stegen, to compliment their signings of Luis Suarez, and Ivan Rakitic. However, the Camp Nou side were also dealt a massive blow (in my opinion) as Alexis Sanchez left the club opting to move on to Arsenal.
Now when it come to a potential formation for the Barcelona side, the loss of Alexis Sanchez sees them lose a lot of width, as the Barca matches I was able to watch last term saw him patrolling one wing with Nike Mercurial Vapor wearing Pedro on the other. Given Barca seem to be looking to move more towards a classic 4-3-3 I can’t help but feel for Pedro as it seems he’ll be the odd man out. The four main players in the Barca midfield will be Nike Magista Opus wearing Sergio Busquets, Magista Obra genius Andres Iniesta, and either Rakitic or Xavi who both will be sporting the Adidas Predator Instinct.
Up front at the moment things look a little light for the Catalan side. Of the assumed preffered attacking trio of Neymar, Messi, and Suarez, only Messi will be in the lineup to start the season off. Nike Hypervenom man, Neymar of course will be out with his back injury sustained during the World Cup, and Mr. Suarez and his Adidas F50‘s happen to be suspended until October for a dental related incident.
So will Mr. Messi and his F50‘s be up front on his own or will Luis Enrique partner him up with the Mercurial Vapor wearing tandem of Pedro and the returning youngster Gerard Deulofeu? If it’s the latter option it could see the side maintain a similar width that they employed to great effect last season, as Deulofeu could fit right in where Sanchez left; until of course injuries and suspensions are finished.
When it comes to La Liga, my flag is firmly mounted to the Bilbao mast (and this season SD Eibar; epic underdog), so I don’t have a dog in this fight. However, looking at the tools available to both teams you have to feel that the edge favours the Madridistas; currently they have all their players available right from the get go; they also have the added benefit of a returning head coach who will be keen to employ a similar style of football to the one which brought European success. I feel that they’ll definitely be the top scoring side in La Liga this season, and as much as it pains me to say it, they’ll also be the odds on favourites to repeat as Champions League winner; and I imagine fun to watch.
Barca, will have a tougher time, simply because they’re lacking weapons. Luis Suarez can’t even go to Camp Nou to watch matches, let alone train with the club until October, so even if he keeps himself in good shape (as a professional you’d expect him to), he’s still going to be well short on match fitness. So it’ll be a case of easing the clubs record transfer signing into the starting lineup, and I wouldn’t expect to see Barca firing on all cylinders until mid-November.