Ok, first things first. Real Madrid, need a striker or atleast an attacking player (or players) with pace, lots of pace. If any of the previous game did not prove my point then the first half (atleast) of this game certainly does.
The game started slow and dull. Neither team were willing to make any chances to score goals. Almeria defended in numbers and Real Madrid lacked the attacking quality that is needed in these games to score goals.
Real Madrid’s defence looked solid, thanks to very few attacking moves created by Almeria. Sergio Ramos looked like he learnt his lessons well and did not get forward that much. Pepe played reasonably though still tried to win balls that were impossible and thus ended up doing one or two fouls.
Pepe was patnered by Cannavaro in the central defence and Cannvaro had very little to deal with as both teams looked as if they were content with a draw. Let me remind you again that Real Madrid needed a win to go level on points with Barcelona at the top of LA LIGA.
Heinze looked solid too, a workmen like performance in the first half. Was caught off position sometimes and didn’t attack like Marcelo would have. Schuster has a tendancy to go for Heinze in away games instead of Marcelo.
The only reason for that could be that Marcelo is young and Heinzee is experienced and can handle the booing of Home crowd. Though, the mistakes Heinze has made in away games (Juventus and Zenit) are enough to disprove that.
Real Madrid’s midfield and attack looked like two parallel lines with no connection to each other. The ball wasn’t moving from midfield to the attacking players. That could be because of the fact that neither Raul nor Higuain (Van Nistelrooy didn’t start) have the quality to cope with rigid defences.
Robben tried hard the fist half and was able to get himself one on one with defenders on two, three occasions but was unable to capitalize on any of those.
Very few chances were seen. Gago and Diarra pivoted the centre of the midfield well and did not allow Almeria to go straight down the field and attack Real Madrid (remember, the Theirry Henry goal against Real Madrid in Champions League 2005-2006, round of 16).
Real Madrid lacked any creativity and did not look comfortable with the ball once it got to the attackers in Almeria’s half.
Raul and Higuain aren’t really what you call “INDIVIDUAL STRIKERS”. They just work hard and take whatever comes in their way. Higuain showed his non stop work ethic when he chased down a “lost cause” ball near Almeria’s penalty area, skipped 2 challenges and put a nice cross in for the in rushing Raul who headed the ball in.
And I was like “woo, where did that come from” because Real Madrid played in such dull fashion (so did Almeria) that from the first minute it looked like the final score would be 0-0. That was one chance that Real Madrid made and scored from it (thanks to some loss in concentration of Almeria’s defenders as they did not see Higuain chasing down the loose ball which everyone thought was going out).
The performance from both teams IN THE FIRST HALF was very dry. All Almeria wanted to do was, to get the posession and hoak it down Negredo’s throat upfront, who played as the lone striker. He held the ball nicely on some ocassions but Almeria also couldn’t put an attacking move together.
I can’t say that Real Madrid looked sold in the first half as very rarely was the defence tested.
Real Madrid were trying to catch Almeria off guard (or trying to attack them from a break) but Almeria’s defence rarely got stretched in the first half as they weren’t too inclined on attacking themselves.
Credit should be given to Almeria’s marking. As Robben and Sniejder (both supposedly Real Madrid’s creative players) didn’t have any space to do anything and that was only because there was no one who could beat players in the middle of the parkneitherthere was any pace down the flanks which could be relied upon.
The goal was really a surprise as Real Madrid didn’t do anything to deserve it. It was only because of one player’s determination, Higuain, he didn’t give up. The only player in the first half on Real Madrid’s side which could have been considered as “Lively”.
Whenever he got the ball, he tried to up the tempo and get Real Madrid going. But Almeria defended well. It’s a pity that they conceded a goal.
After the goal, it went back to the same old boring midfield grind outs. No chances, no excitement.
To put it in a nutshell, the first half was dead, lifeless, zero, na ah. Nothing. (That doesn’t mean I am discrediting Higuain and Raul’s efforts in scoring the fist goal).
Second half was also as boring as watching grass grow. Crappy and scratchy. Real Madrid had difficulty in controlling the midfield.
Real Madrid didn’t show the type of dominance this team should have. We should be outplaying, outperforming Almeria, but we show no evidence that we can do that.
With the talent we have on the pitch, I really have to wonder why teams like Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United look so much better than we do.
There’s so many times we’re playing incredibly static football.
For example, I think it was Heinze who was isolated on the left, inside the Real half, and there’s no one running around trying to give him an option to pass to.
Meanwhile, He got closed down by at least 3 defenders, so he tried to outlet to Diarra, but he’s stood flat-footed so the ball got nicked. Ugh.
It’s like we wanted to play ball possession type of football, but we did a really bad job at it. Where was the flow?
Heinze and Robben had absolutely no understanding at all. Many a times Robben passed heinze one way and Heinze went the other way leading to loss in posession. It was just so frustrating to watch Real Madrid tonight.