x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Collective effort must complement intentions at Real Madrid

Madrid may be packed with stars and had six players in the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, but they do not always play as a team.

Jose Mourinho is having diffiulty managing star players at Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho is having diffiulty managing star players at Real Madrid.

Real Madrid dropped more points at the weekend with a 2-2 home draw against an Espanyol side who have won just two games all season.

They trail an unbeaten Barcelona side by 13 points and while their players talk publicly about not giving up, in private their attention has shifted to winning a much fabled 10th European Cup - or the "Decima" as it is known at the Bernabeu.

After he was named French Footballer of the Year for 2012, Karim Benzema said, "everyone wants to win the Decima, and I want to be part of the team which wins it".

Securing that honour is the only thing which can salvage what has been a poor season so far.

Madrid may be packed with stars and had six players – more than any other club – in the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, but they do not always play as a team and suffered their worst start since 2008, having already dropped more points than in the entire 2011/12 campaign.

Madrid's crowds are dropping and Barca's brilliance makes that even worse for every Madridista, but there is a human side to their rivalry.

Benzema spoke recently about how Barca's Eric Abidal had taken him under his wing when he arrived at Lyon as a 17 year old and how they have remained close ever since.

"There's a strong bond between us," said Benzema. "We're the Lyon clan. He was always there for me and I'm always there for him."

It is a shame that such unity does not exist in Madrid's own dressing room.

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