CD Tacón’s metamorphosis into Real Madrid reaches its halfway point. How is it going?
Is seven months a long time? It depends. If we’re talking about football, it may be an eternity. The truth is, since Real Madrid announced its arrival in the world of women’s football at the end of June 2019, the development of CD Tacón is one of the great stories of the season. Now, once we’re through the halfway point of a unique season, it is time to see what they leave behind and what is yet to come.
An exceptional marriage
2019/20 season cannot be analysed without understanding the link between CD Tacón and Real Madrid. How to mix Real’s fans growing expectations with the modest goals of a newly promoted team? How to focus on fighting against relegation when you know your team is destined to become a champion?
So far, the club’s management has taken a clear path: seeking balance as a priority. Something easier said than done. The perfect example can be found in the building of the squad: on one side, there are the players who achieved Tacón’s promotion, marked by their youth and their development through Spanish academy football; on the other, you’ve got experienced players signed on the international stage.
After 17 matches, the result is still fragile at best. The symbiosis between the two souls of the team is still on the works, resulting in unpredictable performances in which wins or loses are at the same distance. The most obvious examples so far being the defeats against EDF Logroño and Madrid CFF, and the encouraging wins against Sevilla FC and Real Sociedad.
The bright side
Starting by assuming the aforementioned scenario, which is in turn the main cause of frustration for a large section of the fans who are starting to follow the club now, the good news are gradually emerging.
- The team has a leader on the pitch: Sofia Jakobsson. The Swede, who could have chosen to limit her influence and hide behind her talent, is leading Tacón in every area and is putting on amazing physical displays on every match. Her attacking abilities produce lots of goals and the bond with Kosovare Asllani is unequivocal, but it is her commitment in midfield that makes the difference.
- The middle class is here: there is a group of squad players who do not fit the profiles outlined above. They are key to medium-term consistency: Yohana and Ana Valles in goal, Ainoa Campo and Babett Peter in defense, Chioma Ubogagu and Jessica Martinez up front. We are talking about players who quickly adapted to Primera Iberdrola’s demands. Closing the season in a comfortable mid-table position will depend on their performance. So far so good.
- The fear of relegation is receding: at the moment, the only clear danger that would derail completely Real Madrid’s current project is relegation. Luckily for CD Tacón, the team has reached a threshold of strength that contrasts with the messy situation experienced by clubs such as Espanyol, Real Betis, Sporting de Huelva and Valencia.
There will be a turning point from July 1, 2020. For CD Tacón, the season was set to be a rollercoaster ride until next summer. Every single decision depends on the date Real Madrid’s badge is unveiled in a women’s kit.
For now, it’s been a trial and error exercise, a testing of the challenges ahead –the demolitions suffered against FC Barcelona are a valuable reminder– in order to prepare for Real Madrid’s first official season. If the squad successfully retains its place in the top flight, the troubled season will have been worthwhile.
- What to expect next: Fighting for silverware should not be the target. Instead, Women’s UEFA Champions League reform will open a new and interesting path. From next season onwards, an additional ticket to European competition will be awarded in Spain to the team finishing third in Primera Iberdrola. And so, Real Madrid will be able to postpone a face to face battle against FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid, the two giants by the time being. Real’s fight for third will anyway be a tough challenge with the likes of Levante UD, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad up and ready.
- How to achieve it: Florentino Pérez and Real Madrid’s transfer window pedigree is well known around the world. Everybody expects fireworks to mark Real landing in the women’s game, and so a ‘Galáctica’ signing should be not out of the cards. Next season, though, will be defined by a different kind of signings, as their roster is not only demanding strikers but, crucially, a higher dose of physical strenght to dominate defense and midfield.
- “But we want names!”: I get it, ok. Rumours about Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe or Marta coming to Madrid won’t stop, although is crystal clear the club does not need them for now. Instead there are top players out there, probably living on the frontier of stardom, who would put Real Madrid on the right track. The list could go on and on, but I’ll name Christiane Endler, Magdalena Eriksson, Laia Aleixandri, Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, Damaris Egurrola or Nahikari García as players I’d sign blindfolded. Real’s rise should cement around these type of footballers.
We all know Real Madrid want it all, and rightly so, but success must be approached step by step. Until then, restraint will be key to end up reaching the status linked with that rounded and familiar badge that amasses so many Champions League trophies.