How in the world does one write a preview for this team right now? It’s Jekyll and Hyde from one game to the next. And unfortunately it seems like the worse of the two (whichever one that may be) is showing up more frequently than the other lately. I have literally no idea what to expect from this team.
In short, you undoubtedly can’t count on them, but you’d also be a fool to count them out.
So what should we expect? Damned if I know. We should NOT expect to see Kevin Gameiro score his second hat trick of the season since he’s out injured and will be watching from the stands. I think I’m in the minority on this, but I think its time to let Immobile start. Llorente has shown me very little and I still don’t think we have any idea how to play with him on the field (one Konoplyanka assisted goal aside).
It’s both the collective and the individual performances that have been wildly inconsistent. Konoplyanka has embodied this perfectly as he played two games where he looked like the best player in La Liga, and then, he had two matches of more or less indifferent play to remind us of his earlier season form. Can he pull off some magic and help deliver us a magical result? Sure. I have no doubt that he can. But is he equally likely to scamper around on the left side with errant passes and minimal defending? Undoubtedly.
Anyway, I don’t know what to make of this team right now. But if we could find a way to beat Real Madrid, that would give us three points in the standings (how’s that for statistical analysis?). And, based on my understanding of how standings work, the more points the better.
On a separate and unambiguously awesome note, Monchi got the job done and extended Krycho’s contract until 2019 while raising his release clause to 45 million Euros. This is what I noted a while back and is EXACTLY what I’ve been advocating for (I’m certain Monchi reads our blog). This team needs to shift closer to the Valencia/Atletico mold (though it turns my stomach writing that) but paying higher salaries to the players who prove themselves in return getting greater stability and higher release clauses. It’s huge for the club that even as we teeter on the brink of CL exit and sit on the bottom half of the table, Krycho has demonstrated his long-term commitment to this team. Fantastic news. Banega is up next.