Inter vs Real Madrid is quickly becoming a very familiar fixture on the calendar. The Nerazzurri are set tot ake on Los Blancos for the in the Champions League group-stage for the second-straight season. To refresh our memory and see what’s change in the Spanish capital, we got in touch with Om Arvind, Managing Editor of Real Madrid’s SB Nation site Managing Madrid. You can follow him on Twitter and be sure to check out his excellent work on all things Madrid. A big thanks to Om for stopping by!
Q: Real Madrid’s very own Florentino Perez has been one of the most talked-about men in the footballing world recently. You either love him or hate him based on your opinion of the European Super League. But what’s the perspective on the Spaniard from within Real Madrid? Is the fanbase fully behind him?
A: The fans are rarely fully behind anybody and Flo is no different, but that has little to do with the European Super League. If there was a fanbase that was most agnostic to or supportive of his pet project, it was Madrid’s, if only for tribalistic motivations (i.e. only we can criticize our own). No, any antagonism towards Pérez will be based on transfers and on-field performance. If the team is playing well and it looks like he’s made smart and beneficial moves in the market, you’ll hear a chorus of “Don Flo,” “The Godfather,” or “Mastermind,” though there is certainly a contingent that will say these things no matter the circumstance. If the team seems on the down and fans are in that “buy every superstar or bust” mood, the heat can turn up to eleven fast.
At the moment, I would say the majority of Madridistas are behind the president. The way the whole Mbappé saga unfolded painted Flo in a beneficial light, revealing his long-held, carefully-constructed strategy to obtain the Frenchman while painting PSG as the ultimate villain. There’s a sense that Pérez did everything he could to get the player Madrid fans most desperately desire. Instantly going and signing Camavinga to lessen the pain of that failure doesn’t hurt, either.
Q: Real Madrid’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe was the transfer saga of the summer. Mbappe eventually ended up staying in Paris but do you think he’s destined to be Spain-bound? How serious were Madrid’s many offers?
A: Whether Real Madrid’s offers were serious or not has been the subject of some debate over the last few weeks, with some reporting by The Athletic indicating that not all on PSG’s side were convinced. However, based on what I know and the fact that Madrid had cleared out a number of promising players with zero intake over the past two seasons, I would find it very surprising if the offers weren’t legit. The only reason they wouldn’t be is for affordability reasons, and risking Madrid’s finances like that is generally not in Florentino’s character (he may be a big spender, but he always balances the books).
There’s always the chance that Mbappé changes his mind. However, I’m not sure what could happen until January to make that happen. Playing with Messi and having a great shot at winning the Champions League must be awesome and might sway even the most determined individual, but these were things that Mbappé had to have been aware of when he asked to be sold this summer. He’s held extremely firm on his desire to move to Madrid for multiple seasons now and, if there really is something dramatic that can alter such commitment, then we have to live with it. This is as good of a shot as we’re going to get at nabbing a player of this quality on a free.
Q: What have been the early returns on new manager Carlo Ancelotti? How has Real’s style evolved under the Italian?
A: The offense has looked faster and more vertical, with the defense currently struggling to adapt to the departures of Varane and Ramos, a less plodding tempo, and an iffy press. The left-sided bias in attack has also been exacerbated to the ninth degree in order to reintegrate Hazard as a useful piece and maximize Madrid’s best talent. With Vinícius hopefully taking the next step, our offensive ceiling seems higher under the Italian, though there are huge question marks over whether we can be good enough against the ball to create something other than a net neutral progression from the Zidane era.
Q: What’s your prediction for Wednesday?