Where is James Ro­driguez? Real Madrid keeps him benched

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

REAL Madrid boss Zine­dine Zi­dane closed the exit door on Colom­bian play­maker James Ro­driguez de­spite leav­ing the 2014 World Cup’s top scorer on the bench once more for Real’s 2-1 win over Celta Vigo on Au­gust 27.

Ro­driguez has fallen down the peck­ing or­der at the Bern­abeu since Zi­dane took charge in Jan­uary with Madrid’s lat­est sen­sa­tion Marco Asen­sio join­ing the likes of Isco, Toni Kroos and Luka Mo­dric ahead of him for a place in Real’s con­gested mid­field.

How­ever, Zi­dane in­sisted Ro­driguez will re­main in the Span­ish cap­i­tal be­yond the trans­fer dead­line on Wed­nes­day with even the Premier League’s cash-rich clubs un­likely to match the re­ported 80 mil­lion eu­ros (US$90 mil­lion) Real paid for him af­ter the World Cup two years ago.

Ro­driguez only came on for the fi­nal 21 min­utes as Kroos’ fine lon­grange ef­fort 10 min­utes from time sal­vaged all three points for the hosts de­spite the ab­sence of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Karim Ben­zema from Zi­dane’s start­ing line-up through in­jury.

“I thought James played well. It is not easy to come and have to make the dif­fer­ence,” said Zi­dane. “He is go­ing to stay here.” Kroos’s strike main­tained Madrid’s 14-match win­ning run in La Liga, but vic­tory dis­guised a sub-stan­dard Real dis­play.

With­out Ron­aldo and Ben­zema, Gareth Bale failed to build on his fine start to the cam­paign with two goals in a 3-0 win at Real So­ciedad to start the sea­son.

How­ever, Zi­dane high­lighted the need to win even with­out shin­ing, par­tic­u­larly with a two-week in­ter­na­tional break to come.

“It is true that we didn’t shine. In some game we can’t play as we want,” said Zi­dane.

“We can im­prove, but I feel calm with how we have started the sea­son. Two league games won and an­other of­fi­cial game [UEFA Su­per Cup] won.

“Now there are the in­ter­na­tional games and many play­ers will leave, but that is some­thing we can’t change.”

And Zi­dane hailed his play­ers be­lief to keep go­ing un­til the end de­spite be­ing far from their best.

“I am left with the fact the play­ers be­lieved un­til the end and we achieved what we wanted.”

Span­ish in­ter­na­tional Lu­cas Vazquez started along­side Ro­driguez on the bench and was in­tro­duced be­fore his team­mate in search of a win­ner.

And Vazquez was less com­pre­hen­sive than his coach when ques­tioned whether Ro­driguez had played his last game in the white shirt.

“I don’t think it was his last game, but we have to wait and see what hap­pens.” – ARSE­NAL man­ager Arsene Wenger has urged Me­sut Ozil to build on his scor­ing start to the sea­son af­ter ad­mit­ting the one el­e­ment the mid­fielder’s game has lacked is goals.

Ozil, Santi Ca­zorla and Alexis Sanchez were on tar­get in the Gunners’ 3-1 Premier League win at Wat­ford on Au­gust 26, their first vic­tory of the cam­paign.

It was only the Ger­many in­ter­na­tional’s 21st goal for the north Lon­don club since join­ing them from Real Madrid in 2013 – and Wenger ad­mit­ted that for a player widely re­garded as world-class it is an area he can still im­prove.

Asked if Ozil’s pres­ence had made a dif­fer­ence for the Gunners, Wenger replied, “Es­pe­cially in the first half. In the sec­ond half he dropped phys­i­cally. But of course we need him.

“I think what we have seen from him to­day is what we want from him. To give as­sists but as well to score goals.

“So I’m very happy that he scored to­day be­cause that›s what he has to add to his game.

“We paid a heavy price in our first game [the 4-3 de­feat to Liver­pool] be­cause we were not ready, we had not the play­ers back at home.

Now Me­sut is nearly there, not com­pletely, but he just goes again. For us, the break is not welcome.”

The pres­sure had been on Wenger and his side head­ing into the week­end af­ter per­fect starts from both Manch­ester clubs had left them play­ing catch-up.

This, then, was just the per­for­mance and out­come re­quired head­ing into the in­ter­na­tional break.

“I be­lieve we shot our­selves in the foot in first game [a 4-3 de­feat to Liver­pool] and were un­der huge pres­sure. We had two dif­fi­cult away games [against Le­ices­ter City and Wat­ford] but to­day I be­lieve we had a good solid per­for­mance,” Wenger said.

“We had a good cush­ion at half­time. At the mo­ment we are not com­pletely there phys­i­cally and you could see that in the sec­ond half.”

The im­mi­nent arrivals of de­fender Shko­dran Mustafi from Va­len­cia and striker Lu­cas Perez from De­portivo La Coruna, both of whom Wenger con­firmed had passed med­i­cals, should go a step fur­ther to­wards pla­cat­ing fans left frus­trated by their slug­gish start.

“I think they should go through, both of them,” he said.

“They’ve had med­i­cals and we have to fin­ish the pa­per­work. I don›t know ex­actly when we’ll an­nounce it, but I think we’ll an­nounce it in the mid­dle of the week.”

Speak­ing to Sky Sports, he added, “They will in­te­grate into the team now and we will help them join the squad.

“We had to work very hard to get sign­ings done. We have not got any plans for any­one else now.”

A 57th-minute de­but goal from Hor­nets sub­sti­tute Roberto Pereyra gave Wal­ter Maz­zarri’s side hope, yet ul­ti­mately it proved in vain as their wait for a maiden win of their own con­tin­ues – plac­ing their man­ager un­der scru­tiny even at this early stage.

“A lot of play­ers are new so we have to pre­pare later. The or­gan­i­sa­tional things are still miss­ing and two start­ing play­ers were out last-minute and this really didn’t help,” Maz­zarri said.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid’s Welsh for­ward Gareth Bale (right) vies with Celta Vigo’s Ser­bian mid­fielder Ne­manja Radoja in their match on Au­gust 27. Miss­ing in this shot is James Ro­driguez, who con­tin­ues to sit out due to a crowded mid­field.

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