Football

Pepe deserves the plaudits this season

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It wasn't too long ago that Real Madrid defender Pepe was being banned for 10 La Liga matches after a violent on-pitch assault on Getafe's Javi Casquero.

The defender's behaviour on that day was typical of a player with a hair-trigger temper who was likely to blow his top at any given moment.

Indeed, many was the time that opposition attackers would directly target the Portuguese and rattle his cage. Nine times out of ten it worked. Pepe would rise to the bait and a red card would inevitably follow. Not now.

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Maturity

It may as well be a lifetime away because this season we've seen a much more mature player. And when you strip away all of the unnecessary stuff, what we find is a central defender of the highest quality.

Let's remind ourselves that Raphael Varane is being talked about as a future French national team captain. The youngster cannot get a foothold in Real Madrid's first XI because of the form of his contemporary.

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Those that were the first to mock Pepe because of his indiscretions should also be the first to congratulate him on his renaissance as a truly world-class exponent of the defensive art.

Brick wall

With Sergio Ramos now recovered from injury, Carlo Ancelotti's favoured defensive pairing are back in-situ, providing the proverbial brick wall that opposition attackers will try to penetrate.

Arguably, any top team in any league in Europe would take those two as their first choice with the skill set of both complementary to the other.

Power, distribution, pace and no little skill are the details of Pepe's game that are often overlooked because of the "other side" to his game. The demon within is evidently more newsworthy.

What a shame for headline writers everyone then that he is now channeling his energies in a much more positive manner.

He even showed his softer side in the heat of the recent El Clasico battle, asking Barcelona's Gerard Pique about his new born son, before a corner was swung over. Unheard of in the Jose Mourinho era.

Consistent

Perhaps the removal of his countryman from the manager's role also coincided with the disappearance of Pepe's alter-ego and darker side.

Whatever the reasons, there aren't too many defenders that have played at the same consistently high level that Pepe has throughout this campaign.

There's every reason to think that with such a solid base to build upon, Madrid can go on and do something special again before the end of this season.

And at the very least Pepe deserves the courtesy of his part in that being recognised.

Is Pepe now a changed man? Have your say in the comments below!

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Topics:
Pepe
Football
La Liga
Real Madrid

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