Barcelona were trailing their away game 0-2 after 34 minutes and a shock defeat was on the cards. It looked like Real Madrid would be able to close the gap by the end of the weekend. But how things can change.
A day earlier, Aletico Madrid was trailing 0-1 at home till the 30th minute and I thought, if Atletico Madrid lose, Real Madrid could close the gap at the top. But what if, Barcelona won and Atletico Lost and Real Madrid could not capitalize on the opportunity?
The best combination of the 3 independent events was: an Atletico Madrid loss, a Barcelona loss and a Real Madrid win. But then I got a bit realistic and thought that I would be satisfied with an event combination along the lines off: Aletico Win, Barcelona Loss or Draw and then Real Madrid Win or Draw.
As we all know now, nothing changed over the weekend. Barcelona were able to overcome the 0-2 lead and won that game 2-5. Atletico Madrid also recovered from 0-1 to a 3-2 victory.
Now, a Real Madrid win would mean nothing. But a draw or a loss would mean everything. Valencia did put up a good fight. A good fight, not a good match. They made so many mistakes but the likes of misfiring Ronaldo, slow Benzema and unnecessarily ambitious Di Maria saw Real Madrid being unable to benefit from the chances Valencia defenders put on a platter for them.
Real Madrid did manage to win in the end 2-3 away from home and that is always a good thing. Ronaldo scored with a deft header after Di Maria’s wonder opening goal.
Di Maria’s opening wonder goal suggests two things. First, Di Maria is almost a complete winger, having a great mixture of speed, skill, mental attitude and game sense. Second, he is the most agile player in the world today. The way he got past two defenders inside the penalty box was not because he had the pace or Ronaldo or the feet of Messi, it was because he had the agility that only he has in the world of football today.
The shot he released at the end of that dribble was nothing short of breathtaking. Figo would have been proud of that as that play was his favorite too, though he preferred his right foot a bit more.
Going into the details of every player would be wasteful effort as far as this match is concerned. The backline of Marcelo, Ramos, Nacho and Arbeloa did nothing that would surprise anyone. All were pretty solid with the two center backs dominating balls in the air. In Front of them were the trio of Alonso, Modric and Isco. Again, they did enough to grant them ratings of above 80 in FIFA 14. The front 3 of Ronaldo,Benzema and Di Maria disappointed considering the fact that they are considered to be the best in the world. Ronaldo was way off, Benzema was sloppy. Looks like a player in his 30s rather than a youngster. Di Maria was up and down with the quality of his passes and crosses. He did, as usual, work really hard to close down defenders and helped his defenders at the back too.
The point is, Bayern Munich (or Chelsea or Liverpool or Milan or Juventus) is going to kill us with the defense that we currently have. Aerial defending is fine when the ball is coming from the front but from set pieces, corners, wings Real Madrid suck. Ramos, Arbeloa, Marcelo and Nacho have got no clue whatsoever about the ball. They don’t know how to jump or stay with the oncoming attacker on the ball and Bayern Munich love that.
If anyone wants to win the Champions League, it would have to go through either Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Real Madrid can go through Barcelona on a good day but with this type of defending on crosses and corners, Bayern Munich would steamroll past Real Madrid.
The only positives that came out of the match yesterday was that Real Madrid player did want to win it to stay in the La Liga title race. I had thought before that Ancelotti might give up his pursuit of La Liga because of Barcelona’s dominance and focus on the Champions League because that is where Real Madrid have been among st the best this season.