A great match again but I am in a different state of mind than I was the last time Real Madrid played a game like this, where first it looked like Real Madrid were going to cruise away with this one, and then suddenly, we’re thinking, hye at least get a draw.
The reason for that is, that I am beginning to wonder whether Real Madrid truly show a Champions heart and respond like this out of it’s mental strength and will, or is it just that, this Real Madrid side is just not good enough to get easy wins.
That doesn’t mean I am taking the credit away from last nights performance. Make no mistake, it was a superb performance. I personally don’t want Real Madrid to win like 5-0 or 6-1. A team should always be tested so that it knows it has to improve no matter what. When you get scores like 6-1 etc, you tend to relax thinking, “oh yeah baby, we are the big dady cool” and then suddenly, some underdog surprises you.
So I think overall, I would give last nights performance a sold 7 out of 10. Real Madrid showed, that they never give up, no matter what.
Highlights of the game was as I predicted. Sergio Ramos was benched for no apparent reason though Mijatovic and Schuster have come out and said that it has nothing to do with the remarks Sergio Ramos made last night that he is not feeling happy playing under this system where he has very little help on the right hand side of the field.
Mijatovic said that Sergio Ramos needed a break as he has been used heavily by Schuster. Salgado (Sergio Ramo’s replacemenet) did a pretty decent job as a right back. He is much more mature and knows his limitations. Which enables him to do certain things very well and thus, overshadows his weaknesses.
Anyway, back to the game.
Bernd Schuster started with Casillas, Salgado, Pepe, Heinze, Marcelo, Gago, Sneijder, VDV, Robben, Rau’l and Higuain.
Sergio Ramos, as I just told you above, was left on the bench. He wasn’t injured by the way.
Cannavaro was rested for the game so Heinze moved in central defense with Pepe while Marcelo played as a left-back.
The midfield was the same as the one against Juventus: Gago, Sneijder & VDV. However, upfront, it was different as Nistelrooy was suspended and Robben took his place and played with Rau’l and Higuain.
From the start, I knew Sneijder was up to something. He tried to be sneaky and tried to score from 50 meters!!! but that didn’t work so he tried something different but this time it worked as he scored a fantastic goal in the 13th minute with his left foot.
A low ,driven shot from inside the penalty box to the far post, comprehensively beat the keeper.
He kept looking for another goal, and one of his shots hit the post. He was really amazing in the first half. Not only did he look dangerous but also effective. I’m very happy he has regained his form after that nasty injury (Damn you Abu Diaby).
Higuain scored two goals tonight (three actually, but one goal (legitimate I believe) was disallowed by that crappy linesman). One in the 29th minute and the other in the second half. He has proved once again that he is someone to count on. He can play as a striker, second-striker, winger, goalkeeper, defender – no just kidding, better stick to the attacking positions only.
Bilbao equalized just before the end of the first half. Joseba Etxebarria scored their first while Andoni Iraola scored the second from the penalty spot. I execrated the referee when the referee decided it was a penalty. I mean, the ball just didn’t touch Heinze’s hand (or did it?), it was not legitimate. He really pissed me off.
For those of you who didn’t watch. Heinze was defending a set piece. The ball was lofted with pace in the penalty box of Real Madrid and Heinze was jostling for the ball with Bilbao’s attackers, the ball just hit his head and some part of his neck.
The referee for some reason (he is from Barcelona, if you know what I mean) gave a penalty, which was scored on. Schuster and Casillas both showed sarcasm towards the referee by pointing at him.
The second half was more entertaining. It was 2-2, and Real had to score one more goal to get the three points. On the other hand, Bilbao were already thinking about a draw or probably stealing a last-minute win. They neither got this nor that.
Higuainscored! Agreat little through pass from Sneijder was latched on to by Higuain and he kept the Bilbao defense (Ocio proving me right about being slow as balls) and side footing past a helpless Iriazoz. The offside trap had not worked for Bilbao, and if it were not for some dodgy offsides calls then it could be 4 or 5-2.
After Higuain scored, Guti was introduced and there was more chatter from the Bilbao bench, with Schuster and Pedro Jaro protesting to the 4th official to quite them down.
Diarra, Guti and Saviola all came in the second half. Raul played most of the match. I don’t know what is Saviola’s situation at Real Madrid. I mean, he is not that good a player, he doesn’t have a little something we call was “trait” , so sell that bunny face and earn some cash from him while Real Madrid can.
My man of the match was Gago. Man he controlled the midfield like a general and kept everyone in check. Such an exceptional player for his age. So much more mature than any of his peers.
Athletic grew powerless against the Madridistas, who wanted to finish them off with another goal. Guti and Diarra came on for Van der Vaart and Raúl -respectively- to freshen up the team’s attack. Llorente came close to scoring an equaliser in the final minutes, but in the end Real Madrid won the game. They haven’t lost at the Bernabéu in more then one and a half years…
Real Madrid relied on heavily on Gago’s offensive and defensive prowess on Sunday against Athletic Bilbao. Gago touched the ball more than any other player and his pass completion percentage was simply astounding: 49 for 61, one of which was a perfect ball through a narrow lane that Higuaín hammered past Irazoz for the game winner. His recipe for success is broken down into three easy steps.
First, he receives the ball. Second, he raises his head. And finally, he passes to his best-positioned teammate. His duties in defense didn’t go unnoticed either, staking complete control of the midfield with eight steels and allowing Pepe and Heinze to focus on their one cause for concern, Llorente.
Your thoughts please.
Casillas – 6: He didn’t have much to do last night. The defenders sometimes looked confused in front of him specially while defending air balls. He can be blamed for poor communication though.
Salgado – 8: Always gives it, his all and that marks a true professional. Showed plenty of spirit and mettle in defence and in attack. Never stopped running or fighting for the ball, despite taking two early blows andlookedtobelimpingtowardstheend.