Friday, April 08, 2005


Another good look at the criticism against him before the final showdown of the El Clasico this weekend! The intense battle will not feature Guti, Samuel and Deco because of suspensions. Who cares about Guti, not like he is really that vital and I never like his attitude on the pitch. He just pissed me off. Put in the great sub, Santiago Solari. Samuel's absence will be costly though! Both captains Raul and Puyol will try to start with injuries. This is a showdown that everyone is waiting for in Spain! Possibly to determine the outcome of the league champions with the remaining matches left.

Chronicles Of An Overrated Galactico

4/5/2005 3:38:00 AM (

I hate to be a person that piles on in a situation that does not favour an individual, but my belief is coming to fruition, writes Juan Arango. Raúl Gonzalez Blanco is not the best player in Spain, and can be considered the most overrated player in football history…

‘Babystar’, ‘pichichi’, ‘idol’, wow what a difference a few years of not succeeding make. The Spanish press is calling for his head and the chants are getting to him. Maybe he’s slumping? Maybe he is on his way down? Hey, here’s a concept, what about him not being all that he was hyped up to be. The jury is still out on him outside of Spanish borders (although Raúl is not even liked in certain areas of Spain, Catalunya for starters.). How can a player be one of the top scorers in Champions League history, all-time leader in his respective national team, two-time Pichichi in La Liga, multiple Champions League winner – and yet be the most overrated player in the football world? Well that is exactly it. Raúl is the most overrated footballer in the world, although his present form has made detractors out of some of the most unconditional of fans. As good as Raúl has been for Spanish football, the jury is still out on him throughout the rest of Europe. Some people might have a great resume, but with absolutely nothing won at the National Team level, you have to start questioning him.

What do Peja Mijatovic, Clarence Seedorf, Fernando Hierro, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Guti, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman, Nicola Anelka, Roberto Carlos, Fernando Redondo, (hold on let me catch my breath), Christian Panucci, Claude Makelele, Fernando Morientes - would you like me to keep going? – have in common? Well, they are the players that did all the work for Raúl to achieve his faux fame. My point is that if superior talent surrounds a player, how can he NOT score?

If a player faces the marking that Raúl did (also consider the defense in La Liga in comparison to other leagues) he has to be somewhat successful. This is true especially now, where he is in a situation where he does not take up the marking that players like Ronaldo and Michael Owen do. Raúl, on his best day, would only be able to carry Ronaldo’s bag into the stadium.

But realize this; his presence is all the more telling of the team’s lack of leadership. He was at his most successful when he played with Fernando Hierro and Claude Makelele. Real Madrid’s true leaders, which is why they are trophy-less since these two players were let go by the Merengue brass. These two brought stability and grit, two intangibles that are desperately needed in order to be successful. These intangibles that Raúl does not have. When they left, he no longer was the poacher that he once was. Enter Ronaldo… further back he had to play and it started to affect his goal scoring totals.

At the national team level, he is all the more insignificant. There is no way that he should even be playing. Luis Aragones finally realized this and benched him in favor of an inspired Ivan de la Peña prior to the game against Serbia and Montenegro. When he did step on to the pitch, he showed energy, but was not able to complement a Fernando Torres playing the point. The whole point to what I am saying is that he excels when the spotlight is not on him and solely him. His spine acquires the firmness of a jellyfish in the big games. Look, I like the guy, he is the most emblematic player in Spain. For morale he is a good thing, but emblematizing a person will not win you a game. How can the “best” player on your national team be the sixth or even seventh best player on his own club team (I am being kind to David Beckham, but that is another topic I will prod in the future)? As a matter of fact, forget what I just said. Raúl is the third or fourth best striker on his team… even on his best day.

Many of his qualities include his goal scoring knack and dribbling, but his deficiencies are starting to come to the forefront because of his slump for over the past year and change.

Hey I admire the fact that he is the all time leading scorer in Spanish National Team history, but hey, having a monstrous paternity against the Faroe Islands (the team he has scored most against at the national team level with 8). In qualifiers and friendlies (just ask Germany), he is deadly. But, ladies and gentlemen, in reality he is not a player I would want in a big game. What goal is the most memorable one of his in a big game? Probably, Juventus in 1998? What was Raúl’s most meaningful goal at the national team level? What about the ones he scored against Germany and Ireland? Well, those were friendlies. Other than that, there is nothing to show for his alleged greatness. He did score against France (actually Gaizka Mendieta scored, Raúl missed the chance to tie the game… can you say choke). In World Cup 2002, injury did not help him perform, but he would not have made a big difference in the grand scheme of things for La Furia in Korea. Even this year, the stakes were high in the Champions League he faded away just like the rest of his team, allowing a wounded Vecchia Signora to move on to the next round. After that, there is nothing that will back him up. All I can tell you is that Michael Owen has taken his spot. If this season’s performance does not prove it, based on the goals scored and minutes played, then Florentino Perez, Arrigo Sacchi and Vanderlei Luxemburgo are all as myopic as the most rabid of Madrid fans.

Juan Arango


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