Real Madrid defeated Sevilla 2-0 on Tuesday night to claim the UEFA Super Cup, but los Blancos did not only make headlines for an assured display.
Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI was the most expensive in the history of club football, with the combined transfer fees adding up to a stunning £383million. Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man in the team, but he is not the most expensive at £80million, that accolade was taken by Gareth Bale after his £85million switch from Tottenham Hotspur last summer.
Not all good
However, Ronaldo is the talisman in the most expensive starting XI of all time and is set to be the talisman of the most expensive failure of all time. Sevilla were not exactly the most dangerous opponents, what with losing star man Ivan Rakitic in the summer, and there were far too many people getting carried away with Real Madrid.
James Rodriguez was the blockbuster signing in this summer’s transfer window and, while there is no doubt that he is an extremely talented player, his arrival was straight out of the Galactico era and risks destabilising the squad that claimed La Decima last season, a historic tenth Champions League/European Cup win.
Rodriguez’s £63million arrival from AS Monaco, according to reports, looks as though it could lead to the departure of Angel Di Maria, which would be absolutely bonkers on the part of the Santiago Bernabeu club. But Fiorentino Perez must have his new toys.
Real Madrid’s president has seen the Galactico strategy try and fail to dominate European football before. Hosts of star players moved to Madrid, yet they rarely hit the heights of performance their combined powers, on paper, would suggest – never mind doing so consistently.
Too much for one man?
Ronaldo may be able to cover many of the cracks because of his sheer brilliance, but it may even be beyond him to carry a squad full of superstars that are lacking harmony. Di Maria was one of their key players at the end of last season, yet he could just as easily leave and was on the bench for the win over Sevilla in Cardiff.
Rodriguez got the nod to play behind Benzema, with Gareth Bale and Ronaldo flanking them and by all accounts played quite well. The problems could come later when manager Carlo Ancelotti is in need of an injection of pace and direct running outside of Bale and Ronaldo them Di Maria could be key. But there’s nothing he can do if he is sold and being in and out of the team will also affect his performances.
New man Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were the two holding in midfield and did a very nice job of it too. But what happens when Xabi Alonso is back in the team?He was something of a mainstay in midfield last season, so tough choices will have to be made.
Youngster Asier Illarramendi was snapped up for upwards of £30million last summer too, but he has not been a regular fixture in the starting line-up. It will be difficult to make room for him. That’s without considering Sami Khedira, though the World Cup winner is another that looks to be on his way.
Iker Casillas retains huge stature at the club but has been a long way from his best for some time. Real Madrid are considering letting Diego Lopez go, despite him being far superior last term. There is also the falling out between Casillas and defender Alvaro Arbeloa – another dressing room issue that will be in the minds of teammates.
Ronaldo bagged a brace to take his tally for Real Madrid to an astonishing 254 in only 247 games. Those unbelievable numbers make the prospect of the Portuguese superstar playing alongside even more top players a mouthwatering one.
Trouble not far off
But these are all potential superstars at the top of the game and there have rarely been players with exceptional talent accepting a bit-part role in the side. Keeping everyone happy is a headache many will believe is good for Ancelotti, but discontent rarely gets more high profile than at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Fans and officials at Spain's most successful ever club side demand success and not the kind that most clubs would accept. Los Merengues want trophies, all of them. Merely challenging is not even close to be enough - anything other than silverware is a disaster.
Ronaldo will remain the talisman and leader of the pitch, but he could well be leading the most expensive disaster in club football history.