Johan Cruyff: “Real Madrid’s Achilles heel is in central midfield”
By David Redshaw
Tuesday 27 September 2011
Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff has renewed his rivalry with old foes Real Madrid by giving a helping hand to Ajax boss Ronald de Boer before the Champions League clash between the two clubs on Tuesday night.
Cruyff, who spent 11 years with the Dutch club during two spells that spanned three decades, is sports consultant to Ajax and has already facilitated talks between de Boer and Barca boss Pep Guardiola to try and obtain some pointers on how to overcome José Mourinho’s men at the Santiago Bernabéu. It is something de Boer has not tried to hide: “Yes I have spoken to him to try to find some solutions and know the dangers posed by Real Madrid, because Pep has a lot of experience playing against them,” he admitted.
Having been one of the most outspoken critics of Mourinho’s style of play Cruyff thinks he knows where Los Blancos’ weak point lies, and writing in Holland’s biggest newspaper De Telegraaf, he said : “Real’s Achilles heel is in central midfield, where they have good players but their positional sense leaves a lot to be desired, and Ajax need to take advantage of this. They also need to be organised and will then get chances to win the game.”
The Dutchman was referring to a middle of the park where only Xabi Alonso has been an undisputed first choice so far this season, and feels this is an area of the pitch where Ajax can unsettle the hosts. He considers Madrid not to be a solid block: “They have been very inconsistent in the first few weeks and it is something that is bothering them,” he explained. “Ajax are expecting a difficult game. However, the way Madrid are playing poses many questions.”
Former Barcelona player de Boer is equally optimistic and at the same time could not hide his admiration for Guardiola. He said: “There are a lot of differences between the two clubs from when I was playing. Barcelona are an amazing team, Madrid also, but Guardiola’s side are from another planet. Even so, Real have shown they are very dangerous, although Barcelona are better because they have the best players in the world.”
He continued: “If we go there with fear we will be disappointed. If we go onto the field with that attitude it will be a massacre, so we must show we can take the game to them and play as a team and make it difficult for them. We have to puff out our chests on the pitch and concentrate. The key will be to not lose the ball in central midfield.”
On Mourinho’s touchline ban de Boer commented: “He is a great Coach but he knows he made a mistake.”