Santiago Solari found the words and each time he pronounced them he repeated them accentuating them, as if trying to start a ritual of homeostatic magic in the course of the press conference that he held yesterday. "Illusion!" He exclaimed. "Energy!".
January is a cruel month for Madrid. The collapse of Mourinho's team was made in January 2013. The dismissal of Rafa Benitez was announced in January 2016. It was in January of last year, after the elimination of the Cup against Leganés, when Zinedine Zidane declared that he had failed and that the project needed a deep revision that would allow the team to recover its maximum competitive reliability.
Zidane cared very little about winning the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, a success that was as relative as it was accessible, as Real Madrid proved on 22 December once again. Historical inertia does not help either. Of the 41 home league games that served Madrid to return to the competition after Christmas, only won in eight. The newspaper published it Brand and they reminded Solari about the visit that this Thursday imposes the calendar to the stadium of La Cerámica (9.30 pm, Movistar +).
"We will try to change those statistics," said the coach, "make a very serious match, with commitment, enthusiasm and energy. The competition does not stop or fix on dates or parties. "
Solari shares with the leaders of Madrid the conviction that the origin of many of the football problems exhibited by the team this season derive from the loss of enthusiasm. After achieving three Champions in three consecutive seasons the players, in light of this hypothesis, have been victims of the progressive extinction of the sacred fire. In the coming days they face the challenge of reviving him. This Thursday in Villarreal, on Sunday 6 against Real Sociedad, on Wednesday 9 against Leganés in the Round of 16, and on Sunday the 13th against Betis in Villamarín, they will compose a test to determine the state of things. At the moment, the game does not just delude the fans, who each time leave more empty seats in the Bernabéu.
If a year ago the statistics in League, the numbers that determine the real competitive level of a template, alerted Zidane on the need for a profound change in the strategy to follow, this course the results continued their decline. Madrid went from getting 10 wins, four draws and two defeats in the first 16 games of the 2017-18 League, to add just nine wins, two draws and five losses in the 2018-19 League.
"When you look at today's team, you can not say you have a competitive team. It's a failure, "Zidane said after being eliminated from the Cup, a year ago, in which he would later recall as his most bitter day as a coach.
The funeral march
Since Zidane intoned that funeral march, the problems he detected in the squad were not solved. Neither the club transferred Bale, as requested; nor did he keep Cristiano, as they promised him, let alone sign Neymar or Hazard. Follow the same but without Cristiano, who in addition to infect the rest of his thirst for titles was always available. In ten years in Chamartín, the Portuguese hardly suffered two muscle injuries: two contractures. In the last five months, up to 14 players of the first team have suffered one or two muscular injuries each. The last to fall has been Llorente, joining a list of unfortunates that only the goalkeepers, Lucas Vázquez, Ceballos and Modric, are spared. Villarreal will travel all but the three injured: Asensio, Mariano and Llorente himself.
"Football is global," alerts Solari when asked about the plague of physical problems that affect its players this year. "Football is physical, technical, emotional … It moves together. When everything works, everything works. When you falter in one it seems that you falter in several. I see the team with a lot of commitment and desire to keep winning. We showed it in the Club World Cup won solidly. We must demonstrate that same will in this start of the League. "
"Football is the illusion of day to day," insisted the coach. "It is renewed every day and every game is an opportunity to show that we are prepared. The competition is open to what you put. We go for League, Cup and Champions. For that everyone must be involved, committed, working, with enthusiasm and joy. "Solari says that enthusiasm is the panacea of this Madrid. The test field opens tonight in Vila-real.