gareth bale 2015 photo

Barcelona won their game 1-0 (again). Messi missed a sitter and did not score. Real Madrid scored five against a weak and rather pathetic Real Betis who just gave in to the pressure that comes when you are at the white house.

The only downside to this weekend was that Ronaldo did not score. And I am sure it’s not just me, Ronaldo looked visibly pissed off even though Real Madrid were winning 5-0.

Real Madrid did not have much to do in this match aside from scoring beautiful goals. The back four looked comfortable not because Real Madrid’s defense was well organized but because Bettis’s attackers offered nothing.

May be that is the reason why Real Madrid defenders thought to themselves ‘What the heck, lets just go forward and score more than them’. Even with that suicidal strategy, Real Betis could not score.

We’’ start off with start off with Keylor Navas. He looked pretty solid throughout the game, except the fact that he had virtually nothing to do.

He ostensibly made a great save when Real Betis, for once, had gone through Real Madrid’s defenses inside the penalty area and somehow took too many touches to punish Real Madrid and could not score as a result.

The only credit that can be given to Navas was that he did not give up even when it looked like a utter sitter of a goal. He snatched the ball right out of the feet of Betis striker.

Too bad that Keylor Navas had the crowd on his side and he gave them something to cheer for, in probably his last game for Real Madrid.

Word is that Real Madrid will announce De Gea signing on Tuesday. And Yeah, before I forget, Keylor Navas did save a penalty (which was wrongly called by the referee since Varane had done nothing wrong except for being too fast for Real Betis attack force, if you can call it that).

The referee probably gave away the penalty to give something to the away fans who had seen their team concede goal after goal all night.

It also has to be said that Casillas was never good at saving penalties while Navas showed that he had the skills to stop them.

I guess that is irrelevant now since Casillas is long gone (in football time zone) and Keylor is about to become history at Real Madrid.

Marcelo Moments

What the hell was happened to this guy? I mean, his crosses are wayward and he just does not look like a bit interested in defending the proper way.

He kept on giving away the ball in dangerous areas. God knows that if it had been any other team than Real Betis, Real Madrid could have conceded two sure goals through Marcelo’s efforts alone.

Marcelo looked like he had his bearings all wrong. Gave away corner far too cheaply and generally played a sloppy game.

He does not deserve to start the next game but the problem is that Coentrao has been loaned out so Real Madrid don’t really have a choice at left back other than Marcelo.

And that’s not even counting the risky tackles Marcelo had to make inside the penalty area because he was always tracking back instead of being in the right positions.

And this is against Real Betis. I dread to think what would Messi do to this guy. He is so poor when he is defending. Good thing Benitez played a high line and high pressing game tonight.

Otherwise, defensively Marcelo just doesn’t care or doesn’t want to care. Somebody should lecture Marcelo on what a left back is supposed to do in the first place.

Other Normal Fellows

Varane had a solid game tonight. His pace and his pass cutting ability made sure Real Betis did not get a clear site on Real Madrid’s goal.

It was because of his immense speed and ability to read the game that Real Betis could not play long balls or counter attacking football even though Real Madrid defended really high and had six or seven players at any given time inside the Real Betis half.

Varane also made a good clearance in the first half after Real Betis managed to cross the ball into the six yard box. That was the only time Real Betis showed comse build up play ability.

Sergio Ramos showcased once again why so many forwards in the world consider him to be the hardest defender to play against.

His pace, positioning, passing and aerial ability were instrumental for Real Madrid in controlling Real Betis air game. Sergio Ramos came inches close to doing something I don’t think any central defender has ever done, that is, scoring from a overhead kick.

I know for a fact that Ronaldo has never scored an overhead kick but that was not going to stop Ramos from taking a shot himself. Ramos tried and hit the bar. Unlucky guy.

Danillo was the engine room as far as effective attacking moves were concerned last night. He was involved in a lot of defensive cutting plays Real Madrid is known for.

Danilo’s tackling ability especially further up the pitch was something to behold and I think Carvajal would not think twice about  taking his probiotics if he wants to become a starter at right back position.

Danilo’s positioning up the pitch was also pretty good. Certainly better than Carvajal’s. Carvajal is a bit more of a runner but more on him some other time because the man of the moment as far the right back position is concerned is Danilo.

He was instrumental in breaking apart Real Betis ten man defensive wall which resulted in a brilliant team goal finished off by a Benzema header after a right footed Bale cross from the right.

The Perfect Midfielders of Real Madrid

Again. Against good teams, Real Madrid’s midfield will be exploited for its lack of defensive talents but as far as attacking goes, there is simply no other midfield like it.

Modric, Kroos and James Rodriguez showcased superb coordination, touch and skill on the ball. Betis just could not live with it.

Modric exhibited tremendous playmaking ability from deep positions. His first touch was just awesome even when we take into account that the pressing by Real Betis was not top notch.

Modric demonstrated very clearly why Real Madrid missed him so much in the middle of last season when he got injured and hence was out for about two months which effectively cost Real Madrid La Liga.

The only real worry now would be Modric’s ankle. He twisted it last night after he jumped to protect himself from a sliding tackle but ended up twisting his ankle.

Modric was subbed around 74th minute mark and the new signing Kovacic was brought on who looked pretty solid. Nothing more.

Kroos on the other hand demoed his long grounded passing ability really well. He spread the play really intelligently and had a good first touch.

The only thing he didn’t do right last night was shoot. He did take a pretty embarrassing shot after a layoff was provided to him in the first half but apart from that he didn’t do too much either in attack or in defense and that is what worries me.

Against teams like Atletico, Sevilla and Barcelona, this Real Madrid midfield would get picked apart pretty rapidly. They need to add a bit of steel to that midfield.

Casemiro provides that but that’s a bare minimum. He cannot be expected to handle the likes of Messi or Suarez etc. Kroos came off at 63rd minute mark for Casemiro.

Benitez presented his skill with substitutes again as he made sure each of his sub got appropriate playing time.

Again in stark contrast to Ancelotti who usually made double or triple subs at the end of 85th minute mark, which you know is a pretty useless decision to make for a subs bench that is this expensive at Real Madrid.

James Rodriguez The Magician

As one of the sky sports commentators put it “James Rodriguez is playing his little game of who scores the best goal in a single match with himself”.

He scored a wonder free kick last night and from a tight angle too. Ronaldo should exchange notes with James on how to take free kicks, leave the tight angle part alone because right now Ronaldo is rather poor at free kicks altogether.

But James’s free kick? Man what was that. That was some strike. He had this natural curl on his free kick which took the ball into the far post.

The ball hit the far post and went in from an insane angle. James hammered that shot but magically the hammered shot had a great curve on it instead of going flat towards the goal.

Someone should’ve put the speedometer to work on that one.

That goal would have been enough to earn a goal of the season nomination but who knew what James had installed for the audience next.

From a poor ground pass into the penalty area of Real Betis, James took a pretty bad first touch which allowed the ball to jump up on him head height.

But just as I was about to think to myself “man that is an awful first touch from James”, James compensated for that with a sublime second touch.

An overhead shot which went into the goal at a sharp angle. Ronaldo was being overshadowed will all the trickery that James and Sergio Ramos put on last night.

I just feel bad for Benitez that he has to make that horrible choice of playing either James or Isco because both of them would lock down a starting place in any other team aside from Barcelona.

MSN OR BBC

I don’t know about you guys but last night it was all BBC (Benzema, Bale, Cristiano). MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) were boring last night as Messi missed a sitter and a defender by the name of Vermaelen had to come in and save Barcelona’s blushes.

Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo fired on all cylinders last night. Each made significant concrete contribution to the general play of the team rather than showcasing individual brilliance. Though they did that too.

Bale silenced (for the moment of course) a lot of critics with his performance as a central attacker last night with his two brilliantly taken goals.

One was from a header in the first minute of the game and the other one was towards the end of the game with a brilliant long range strike.

Throughout the game Gareth Bale showed good form and enthusiasm to run and close down defenders. He also gave a glimpse of his great acceleration on one or two occasions and basically went ballistic with his last contribution of the game which resulted in a long range wonder strike.

Questions remain though. Would Bale be able to find this much space against good teams? Would tough tackling teams allow Bale to turn and have a look around? Only time will tell.

I mean, I know the answer now (which is a solid no) but Gareth Bale proved me wrong before when he converted himself into a forward after starting out his career as an attacking left back.

Gareth Bale’s movement was not good last night even though the defense was just non existent from Real Betis. Bale was caught offside in the first half after he was put through on goal with a simple ground pass from Benzema.

I know, you might say, it was just an offside. But the point here is that it was an easy offside. Bale should not have been offside as he didn’t need to be ahead of the last defender to convert that pass into a goal.

Against good sides, that could have been the difference between winning and losing a match.

Gareth Bale’s wing movement was solid from both wings but his crossing ability needs some refinement.

Apart from the assist he gave for Benzema’s headed goal, his crossing was not up to the mark from either wings or from either foot.

Benzema had a good comeback game after his injury. He was taken off at 54th minute mark so he didn’t have much time to party on the pitch.

His headed goal was nicely taken and he did everything that a pre-injury Benzema was supposed to i.e provide good link up play and put pressure on opponent defenders to make them panic and lose possession of the ball.
james rodriguez  2015 photo

Conclusion

Benitez got the strategy spot on last night. Real Madrid overloaded Real Betis and piled on the pressure non stop. Benitez passing instructions also were followed to a tee.

But again, the last ball from Real Madrid was mediocre. The scoreline doesn’t do justice to Real Madrid’s failures as a team that is incapable of putting in a decent final ball against teams that defend with any dignity.

Overall, Real Madrid played like the old galacticos last night. The quality of passing (except the last ball) and touches on the ball was just supreme.If only Rafa could improve Real Madrid’s back four to the level that is necessary to win titles this year, Real Madrid would become the team to beat this season.

HALA MADRID!!!!

Photo by Hank Loner