Calling for back up

Could Dele soon be wearing the white of Real?
Could Dele soon be wearing the white of Real? / EFE
  • a look at la liga

  • The wisdom of Real Madrid's transfer policy is being brought into question after back-to-back defeats exposed their lack of depth

Until last week Real Madrid had never visited Girona for a La Liga match, nor played at Wembley Stadium. How the European Champions wish they hadn't!

Ahead of the trip to the iconic English stadium, they visited the humble, municipal sports ground of Montilivi enveloped by trees on the outskirts of Girona.

It was a historic day in many ways. This is the heartland of Catalan pride where the stadium tannoy man make his announcements in the local language. Thousands of Senyera flags were raised in celebration as the Madrid footballing royalty were given a rough ride in the disgruntled region.

It had the feel of an FA Cup tie as the superstars were pitched against a mixture of players who'd spent most of their career in the lower leagues and a sprinkling of journeymen picked up from the Premier League. Stuani, surplus at Middlesborough and Portu, a Valencia cast-off wrote their names into the history books in a city where there's a lot of history being written.

“A reference for many situations,” tweeted Carles Puigdemont as he prepared to pack his bags at the Catalonia president's office and was, for once, knocked out of the headlines by the footballers of Girona. It was a symbolic reference that Madrid may not govern all of Spain.

Spin forwards a few days and there's another first for Real Madrid, their bus negotiating Wembley Way. Surely, even the celebrated superstars who boast every medal in world football would be up for this one? It appeared not as Tottenham Hotspur swept their illustrious visitors aside.

It was rightly headlined as a great night for English football as Dele Alli and Harry Kane led the revolution. It highlighted the flaws in the Real Madrid masterplan. They didn't recruit worthy replacements when Álvaro Morata, James Rodríguez, Pepe and Danilo were allowed to leave last summer. None of the quartet were making the first eleven but they were international class options when an alternative was needed. Real no longer have the quality back-up.

All of a sudden the Real Madrid team looks old. Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are slowly losing their pace, a thirty-something Luka Modrić is doing all of the midfield running and Gareth Bale's fitness is a constant mystery.

Spurs are now in the European football conscience but the downside could be the fact that their young stars are in the conscience of the Real Madrid president. Florentino Pérez hasn't been on a true spending spree since Zinedine Zidane took over and his cheque-writing pen is ready for a refill.

I imagine that the names of Kane and Alli are pretty close to the top of his wish list, closely followed by David De Gea. A great week for English football may have far-reaching consequences.