Some people don’t like to do two things (amongst countless others).
They don’t like to change and they don’t like to admit a mistake. Benitez certainly is one of those people.
Benitez came under severe criticism after last weeks performance against Sporting Gijon.
The media blamed Benitez for employing a system which restricted the movements of talented players like Ronaldo, Bale and Isco.
The match ended 0-0 and as a result Real Madrid are already two points behind Barcelona.
Lets just hope this won’t be a season where Real Madrid fall two points behind Barcelona early on in the season and eventually fall behind by five points when Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the Clasico.
Can’t remember the number of times I have witnessed that scenario.
Though it has to be said, it was Benitez’s first game. He should be given some lateral space. But let there be no mistake.
He was heavily criticized ,even if only after one game, because Benitez did exactly what most people expected of him.
He played defensively. Isco, Modric and Kroos spent all their energy on defending rather than creating.
Benitez, even after a 0-0 draw against a lowly Gijon refused to admit the fact that his lineup and strategy was a defensive one.
In fact, Benitez actually looked surprised to see to many journalists asking him about being defensive. He said that a 0-0 score does not indicate that Real Madrid played in a defensive manner.
Well then Benitez, what would you consider a defensive performance? 0-0 shows that the team did not score. When a team does not score, that team becomes known for playing defensively. It is that simple, Rafa.
Anyway, here are five ways Benitez can finally earn himself a professional win with Real Madrid:
- It is a home match. The crowd will expect some fireworks. Benitez should give it to them. Play with three out and out attacking players.
Namely, Benzema (if he is fit of course, otherwise start with Jesse), Bale and Ronaldo.
- Then play with two attack minded players behind them and actually allow those attacking midfielders to attack rather than chase the ball all day long. Modric and Isco would be able to do that.
Have Kroos play behind them to link defense with attack with the least amount of touches on the ball.
- Don’t play Bale in the middle. He is not built for that. If Rafa Benitez reads anything that remotely resembles a newspaper, he should know by now that there is no one out there who supports Bale being employed in the middle.
Playing in the middle requires a different, often unique, set of skills that Bale just does not have. Playing him in the middle disrupts the rhythm of the team and hampers Bale’s ability to improve and grow as a player.
It also affects his style of play as he likes to run with the ball as opposed to take a touch or two.
- Don’t give Bale a free role. There is no thing such as free role in football anymore. Each player has to know what are his responsibilities on the pitch.
The more precise instructions the manager gives to his players, the more disciplined and calm the team is on the pitch when it gets tough.
Giving even a single player a truly free role is not good for the overall balance of the team. Players need to feel connected to each other on the pitch.
In moments of intense pressure, players rely on their instincts to get out of tough situations.
When there is a player with free role playing upfront, the players playing behind him upto the last defender lose confidence in going with their instincts because they don’t know who’s playing where.
So the best bet, is to give each player a specific set of instructions. No special treatment for anyone. Either play Bale on the left wing or the right wing.
Anywhere else than those two positions would mean that Bale would not be able to use his greatest asset to full potential i.e his pace.
Benitez needs to use Bale’s pace to the team’s advantage. Forget the critics.
The simple fact is that when you have players like Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema in your team, there is really only one way to play and that is to counter attack by playing Bale and Ronaldo on the wings.
No side in the world can cope with this trio. Benitez, I think, has taken some criticism to heart and hence has changed a working formula just to please those critics (who won’t ever shut up by the way) who blamed Ancelotti for playing Bale on the left even though the same strategy worked, the first season Bale played for Real Madrid . Bale on the wings. Period.
- Play Isco in the center, in a more advanced role than he played against Gijon. If Benitez is worried about defensive work then have Isco defend in the attacking half.
Play a slightly high line of defense and have forwards do a little bit more work in closing down Real Betis defenders in order to steal possession from them.
Having Isco and Modric back track all game long only reduces Real Madrid’s effectiveness when going forward.
Kroos and Isco don’t know much about tackling so even if they backtrack and get behind the ball, there isn’t much they can do defensively after that.
Benitez needs to learn some lessons from Barcelona.
Even though Messi, Suarez and Neymar are not tacklers, they are able to pressurize the back four of nearly every team which ultimately leads to the opponent’s defenders yanking the ball upfield because of the pressure up the pitch and hence results in Barcelona taking the possession of the ball back.
Benitez must know one thing. If he plays this team the way he played this team against Gijon, the Bernabeu faithful would not think twice about calling for his head. Even if it’s only two games.