Ask any Real Madrid fan in the capital about how good Jese is and they will say, “In five years’ time he will win the Balon d’Or”. Needless to say, there are high hopes and expectations amongst Madrid supporters about their new golden boy. A string of stirring performances and goals have added to the growing euphoria and sense of belief that Jese, a product of Real Madrid’s youth set-up, is indeed destined for great things.
On Saturday night he showed just why all the billing may be justified. While it was Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema who got Los Blancos going in the first half, in the second half it was the Jese show. Just after the hour mark, a beautifully timed run saw him latch on to a perfectly weighted pass from Angel Di Maria before he neatly placed it beyond Sergio Asenjo in the Villarreal goal. Fifteen minutes later he was at it again, sprinting down the left flank before cutting inside and teeing up Benzema for the Frenchman’s second of the night.
Jese has now scored in each of Madrid’s last four games. However, it has not just been the goals, but his performances, in general, that have captured the imagination. Strong, athletic, quick and technically gifted, the forwards has all the makings of real star, perhaps even a Balon d’Or winner. His style of play is strikingly similar to that of Ronaldo and, curiously, he even runs a bit like him.
What does set the youngster apart however from the Portugal captain, is that he is considered a real Madridista. He arrived at the club in 2007 as a 13-year-old and rose through the ranks. For this reason, whereas it took them years to fully warm to Ronaldo, Madrid fans having already fallen in love. After years of having to watch Barcelona conquer all before them with their numerous home-grown stars, the fans have been desperate to see one of their own show the same type of potential. And Jese might just be their man, or rather young man as he is still only 20-years-old.
Naturally, there are now growing calls for him to selected for the Spain squad for this summer’s world cup. When questioned about it, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque admitted, “I am not discarding Jese as an option, he could make the squad”.
If Jese continues in the same vein, it will be hard for Del Bosque to not at least consider him. But, it will be hard. With Ronaldo and Bale ahead of him in the pecking order, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti potentially faces the wrath of Madrid fans if he does not continue to give him playing time, even when Ronaldo and Bale are fit and available. No doubt it is a problem for the Italian, but a problem most coaches would probably like to have.
Speaking of problems, Diego Simeone has a few now and not the kind any coach wants to have. Starting with the loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, Simeone’s side were defeated again on the weekend by lowly Almeria. It was a nothing short of a disaster as a controversial referee decision saw Daniel Aranzubia sent off while Tiago was forced off with an injury that will keep him out until mid-March. Add to this the injuries to David Villa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois and it seems that Simeone has work to do if he his side are to maintain their title challenge.
Simeone’s compatriot, Barca boss Tata Martino, will be a little calmer this week than usual. Following their loss to Valencia at home last week, the pressure was on for his side to bounce back. And, for a while it looked as if they wouldn’t. A combative Sevilla side actually dominated the first half and had their finishing been up to par, they could have been a few goals ahead by the break. But, luck went the way of the visitors when Alexis Sanchez’s equaliser was given despite the fact the Chilean was a clear yard offside. And then it was all about Lionel Messi. The Argentinean had not looked his usual devastating self of late. But, on Sunday night he seemed to rediscover his mojo, scoring two well-taken goals in ten minutes to put his side on course for a vital three points that sees them now equal on points with both Atletico and Madrid at the top.