12:59 AM GMT
Graham HunterSpain writer
- Graham Hunter is simply a Barcelona-based freelance writer for ESPN.com who specializes successful La Liga and the Spanish nationalist team.
Football is simply a athletics that lives and breathes heated, polemic views, emotions and reactions. At nary nine is that much existent than the ultra-successful, ultra-demanding Real Madrid.
To driblet 2 points against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid, then, erstwhile Los Rojiblancos were playing with 10 men astatine the extremity of a week successful which Carlo Ancelotti's men spotted Liverpool a two-goal pb earlier thrashing them 5-2 successful the Champions League -- frankincense massively raising expectations -- is, for Madrid supporters, going to consciousness astir arsenic enjoyable arsenic drinking a pint of lukewarm saltwater. There volition present beryllium an implicit deluge of those heated, polemic, not needfully sensible opinions bandied astir (until the adjacent Clasico, connected Thursday, takes over) with the main taxable being that Los Blancos categorically "tossed the league away" by dropping points to Diego Simeone's progressively robust team.
First of all: nonsense. A seven-point spread to leaders Barcelona (potentially 10 if they triumph astatine Almeria connected Sunday) is uncomfortable for the reigning champions and a challenging tally to overhaul, but with a bid of 3 Clasicos connected the skyline (two successful which Madrid tin inflict collateral harm to Barcelona's assurance successful the Copa del Rey semifinals and 1 successful LaLiga wherever they tin adjacent the deficit), successful nary mode is this rubric contention decided.
Second, determination was -- amid the baying noise, the polemic astir a horribly misjudged reddish paper for Angel Correa and the deflation astatine dropping points -- a existent "hallelujah!" infinitesimal for Los Blancos and their followers. The easiest mode to picture that infinitesimal is to accidental that, losing 1-0 to 10-man Atleti, 18-year-old, 6-foot-4 Alvaro Rodriguez leapt prodigiously precocious to caput location Luka Modric's transverse and, successful redeeming a point, became the second-youngest scorer successful Madrid's past down the legendary Raul Gonzalez Blanco. (More connected the mighty Raul successful a moment.)
A bully mode to embroider the communicative is to accidental that, past week, Alvaro already "did a Lionel Messi."
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When Messi was a kid and astir to people his archetypal of 672 goals for Barcelona, helium was brought connected against Albacete successful May 2005. Ronaldinho produced a scooped flick of the ball, the teenage Argentinean, by past lone a susurration of an emerging talent, ran onto the walk and beautifully lobbed the absorption keeper, Raul Valbuena. Linesman Luis Bravo Mayor incorrectly called the determination offside.
At that stage, determination were 18 seconds of mean clip left. Thirty seconds aft being robbed of a debut goal, Messi was waiting successful the aforesaid left-sided position, Ronaldinho won the shot and produced the identical scooped and lofted walk to the small prodigy. Messi, astir from the aforesaid leaf of grass, casually lobbed Valbuena again.
Chutzpah incorporated, and the announcement of an arriving superstar. From that time until past week LaLiga hadn't seen thing akin -- until Alvaro made his debut for Ancelotti's reigning Spanish, European and satellite champions.
There were 2 minutes of mean clip near astatine Osasuna, Madrid were holding connected to a 1-0 pb and the kid made a beautifully timed tally from his ain half, kept diamond-sharp attraction connected not letting the infinitesimal get to him, passed expertly to Vinicius Junior and abruptly it was 2-0. Except it wasn't. Federico Valverde touched Modric's walk portion it was connected its mode to the 18-year-old substitute, rendering his perfectly timed tally imperfect and the extremity disallowed.
Imagine the sang-froid needed to nutrient an assistance similar that astir 90 seconds aft making your debut. Imagine the daze of acold world erstwhile the referee disallowed the goal.
Hundreds of promising, emerging footballers would driblet concentration.
About 70 seconds aft the restart, Alvaro hunted down Osasuna defender Unai Garcia, who was dallying successful possession, robbed him, looked up and served the cleanable walk for Marco Asensio to marque it 2-0. There is an undeniable correlation betwixt the brilliance, the clear-mindedness, the intensity, the imaginativeness and the self-confidence of young Messi 18 years agone and the 18-year-old Alvaro who is emerging from Madrid's ranks.
But, wait, there's much, much much to come.
This prodigy, for that's what helium is, has spent 26 minutes connected the transportation successful LaLiga for Los Blancos. In that abbreviated magnitude of time, helium has produced 2 superb assists (even if lone 1 counted) and a goal.
What's more, the extremity was perfectly beautiful. A towering, precise, unstoppable header.
And here's the condiment successful the story: He's truly been astatine Madrid for lone 2 and a fractional years. Where did they spot him? In Catalunya.
This perchance phenomenal young striker was calved successful a beauteous spot called Palamos, which is up the seashore from the metropolis of Barcelona, and was playing successful Girona's younker strategy erstwhile Madrid's scouts spotted him, packed him disconnected to the Valdebebas younker academy, and present we are.
I'm not utilizing the almighty adjective astir him being perchance phenomenal solely connected the ground of brief, explosive minutes successful LaLiga positive fractional an hr successful the Copa del Rey. There are adept witnesses to telephone to the stand.
Raul, who similar Alvaro made his scoring debut for Madrid successful a Derbi against Atletico, has been his manager for Madrid's Castilla (the B-team). The legendary striker said a mates of days ago: "I was watching Alvaro play for our Juvenil B squad and helium scored a extremity successful a mode I've not seen from anyone for perfectly ages." On the ground of that decorativeness alone, Raul promoted him past the adjacent signifier of his improvement and consecutive into the Castilla team.
A large leap guardant that is astir to beryllium repeated.
Right aft this disappointing Derbi draw, Ancelotti stated: "Alvaro volition beryllium promoted straight to the archetypal squad adjacent season." That followed the Italian, up of the Osasuna win, announcing: "Alvaro possesses things successful his accomplishment acceptable that we don't person successful our squad."
Think astir those words. Ancelotti is coaching the fabulously resourced Spanish, European and satellite champions; he's infamously dilatory to usage hyperbole; helium has virtually seen everything arsenic a subordinate for Roma and AC Milan and arsenic a manager astatine Parma, Juventus, Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain; but he's consenting to accidental publically that this lanky, little-known but startlingly bully Catalan possesses characteristics that Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo simply don't? Now that is praise.
Except he's not 100% Catalan. Born that one-hour thrust northbound from Barcelona and educated successful Catalunya, helium qualifies to play for Spain and has done truthful astatine younker level. However, his dada is simply a arrogant ex-professional who came up astatine Penarol and, thus, Alvaro starred for Uruguay successful the caller South American U20 championships, wherever his 5 goals took them to a second-place decorativeness arsenic beaten finalists to Brazil.
Bet your bottommost dollar that the Spanish FA are conjuring up a myriad of arguments to effort to transportation this wunderkind to alteration his mind, which helium inactive tin do, and play for La Roja astatine elder level. They tried it with Messi -- without overmuch luck.
Now, adjacent successful airy of a achy Derbi result, if you look intimately astatine the property illustration of the players Madrid motion oregon develop, it's beauteous startling. Alvaro joins the caller accumulation enactment of Vinicius, Valverde, Rodrygo, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Sergio Arribas, each of whom person won trophies for the club, and the oldest of whom conscionable turned 25 portion the bulk are successful their aboriginal 20s.
Do not, nether immoderate circumstances, regularisation retired this Spanish-born imaginable Uruguay planetary being fixed clip to tally astatine an established Uruguay nationalist squad prima successful Ronald Araujo connected Thursday erstwhile the Clasico Copa del Rey semifinal archetypal limb is played.
Meantime, if you've not seen Alvaro's assists past week oregon his magnificent header against Atletico, spell question them retired now. I bid you. This kid is, without question, precise special.