Last night's Galaxy v. Real Madrid match at the Home Depot Center was another glaring example of "The Soccer Gap." Real Madrid, who won 2-nil, are about the classiest group of players anywhere assembled in the world (except perhaps Liverpool or Barcelona), so they can make a good team look like The Bakers' Guild of Devonshire...on their best day.
Zizu is the Jedi Master and everyone else in a white shirt is influenced by his uncanny first touch, firm delivery to feet or to space -- never a question which one -- and Madrid play with a confidence, tempo and sense of objective like no team in any league.
First off, it's clear why Beckham gets criticised as being "past it:" compared to Zizu, who makes it all look effortless, he looks like a call-up from the Salamanca Reserves. However, Becks' work-rate never flags and he doesn't tend to give the ball away easily or when he's not taking a calculated risk.
Michael Owen is a charm. He deserves to start with such consistent quality, although it is likely that his scoring rate as a substitute last season was abetted by the advantage the speedy one takes in coming on late, against tired legs. This alone, is why I'll be surprised to see him leave if he is consistently used late in every match. It's possible the constant rumours of his dis-ease at Real Madrid are constructed as a red herring to mask this effective tactic.
My favorite Galactico -- a testament to Globalization -- is a Dane who moved to Madrid this year from Everton. It is Thomas Gravesen. He plays the Roy Keane/Claude Makalele position like Thomas Gravesen. Everything starts through Gravesen. He is tough, takes no guff and looks a freight in a smooth pate. Gravesen is a key for the Real build up. And ever so steady.
Roberto Carlos is about the worst defender to ever be voted best left back in all of football. The product of his Left Foot, however, usually registers on the scoreboard. I'll keep RC.
Zinedine Zidane is simply still the best footballer on Planet Earth. Apart from his shimmering smoothness, deception and otherworldly first touch, it's clear he is tactically used well at Real as the conduit for every single attack or counter. He tackles back -- enough to be a niusance -- but lurks on the upfield edge of the action when the opposing team has the ball, pouncing to good purpose in precisely the right position when the ball is stripped. This is a footballer; and you can see how his approach influences everyone else's first touch too. I'm getting a Zidane shirt. He is a cat.