Beyond the extra vacation leave that Real Madrid took in Getafe, according to Carlo Ancelotti’s public analysis, the disappointing passage of the whites through the Coliseum confirmed what had already appeared in the previous two months: there is, for now, no more indigestible plate for the leader of the League than a team well stationed behind with a defense of five. His last three skids -Osasuna (0-0), Cádiz (0-0) and Getafe (1-0) – offered a very similar script and showed the enormous difficulties of meringues to attack this type of device covered with a double layer of steel. This Sunday, moreover, with the aggravation of a fatal error by Militão that ended up deciding the match.
David Soria, Mitrovic, Jorge Cuenca, Mathías Olivera, Erick Cabaco (Nyom, min. 82), Damián Suárez, Aleñá (Florentino, min. 73), Arambarri, Maksimovic, Enes Unal (Jankto, min. 82) and Sandro (Mata , min. 64)
Courtois, Eder Militao, Lucas Vázquez (Peter, min. 84), Ferland Mendy (Marcelo, min. 45), Alaba, Kroos (Isco, min. 84), Casemiro, Modric, Rodrygo (Mariano, min. 66), Marco Asensio (Hazard, min. 45) and Benzema
Goals 1-0 min. 8: Enes Unal.
Referee Mario Melero Lopez
Yellow cards Rodrygo (min. 20), Damián Suárez (min. 55), Arambarri (min. 81), Casemiro (min. 86) and Mathías Olivera (min. 95)
The stumbling block is a classic for the greats, although the lack of response and finesse of the whites in this type of scenario is beginning to be remarkable. “It was not only against Getafe. We are having problems when we play against five back lines. The games that we have not won have been these. You have to work on it ”, Casemiro admitted warmly, without having to delve into the matter. Winner in the duels against the next seven classified in the table, Madrid are left blind to less ambitious offensive proposals, but with very screwed rear guards. Three modest ones have uncovered the leader’s first structural crack since he got off to a run, and a few more such events await him in the weekly La Liga marathon between now and May.
“A complicated game, very tough. An individual error by a player who has been playing as one of the best in the team”
– Football in Movistar + (@MovistarFutbol) January 2, 2022
His problem, in fact, is consistent with his virtues and offers relevant information to understand the identity of Ancelotti’s group so far. After a start to the season with an experimental air, the Italian ended up fitting the pieces when he ordered his 4-3-3 to back down a bit to look for spaces with Vinicius and Benzema. Reggiolo’s, protector of his own but always ready to explain football concepts – unlike the hermetic Zidane – clearly argued this in December. “We don’t have midfielders who can defend in the open field. With the low block we are more comfortable. It is not very aesthetic and we are not very intense defensively, but we do it well ”, explained the white coach. Modric, yes, dropped that “maybe” they would like “to have a little more the ball.” In any case, the plan, carried out especially against Atlético, Inter and the double duel against Shakhtar, brought them juicy benefits.
The Assumption of Ancelotti
However, on days like those of Getafe, Cádiz and Osasuna, the rival’s strategy takes Madrid out of its comfort zone, forces it to do things for which it does not feel so gifted and the scoring improvement experienced this course after times of shortage comes to nothing: zero goals in favor in these three duels, the only ones, along with Villarreal’s 0-0 at home, in which they have not scored. Ancelotti has also spoken without problems about this. “These games are difficult for us. We have very strong wingers in one-on-one, but in these matches we lack presence in the area ”, admitted the Italian against Osasuna after his team made up to 39 centers. Two months later, after stumbling on the same stone against Cádiz, the analysis was practically traced. “These are games that we find difficult to play due to our characteristics. We had no spaces ”, he justified two weeks ago. That night, Madrid accumulated 82% of the possession.
The hackneyed concept of possession provides an interesting fact in this scenario: he has not won any of the four games of the season in which he has amassed the ball the most. In addition to the clash with Álvaro Cervera’s army, this also happened to him before the Sheriff at home (76%, 1-2), Osasuna (75%) and Getafe (74%). However, their lowest figures in this section have almost always coincided with victories: Barcelona (48%), Real Sociedad and Betis (49%), Inter at the Bernabéu (50%) and Seville (53%). With one exception, Villarreal at La Castellana (0-0 with 49%) at the start of the season. Taking more of the ball, far from translating into more goals, has left it to zero in these three league games that describe the traffic jam and with a number of shots on goal lower than its average of 6.4 throughout the course. Except for the nine against Cádiz, against Osasuna it remained at three and on Sunday, at four.
Detecting the precariousness in these circumstances, Ancelotti’s maneuvers have been almost always the same: Hazard behind the lead to open tracks in the middle of the forest of legs (his most drinkable performance was in the second part of Cádiz); Marcelo as a destabilizing element on the left (half of his minutes in the league have been as a resource against Osasuna and Getafe); and the final charge with a second finishing striker to alleviate that deficit of presence in the area that the white coach noticed. However, none of that has gotten him out of the loop at the moment. The little ones grieve the leader.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.