Real Madrid have not conceded a single goal in 2015-2016 campaign so far. It is the only side in all of major European leagues which has not let in a single legal strike into the back of the net.
This is the first time in decades that Real Madrid has scored 16 goals without conceding one.
What does this all mean for Real Madrid’s prospects for the rest of the season?
Well, there are three reasons why I think this record (Real Madrid not conceding a single goal that is) means nix as far as Real Madrid winning any silverware come the end of the season is concerned. These are:
- Real Madrid has not played a worthy opponent yet. Thumping wins against teams like Espanyol, Real Betis.Barely winning against Granada and let’s not even mention the draw against Gijon, may help paint Benitez as a manager who can win in style and grind out results.
But titles are won (and lost) when you win big matches and tough away games. That means that till Benitez gets a favorable result against the likes of Athletic Bilbao (the match is tonight if you’re interested), Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, we cannot or should not make judgements on how good or bad Real Madrid’s defense is.
Besides, against Granada, Real Madrid could have easily conceded two goals if it were not for some poor finishing from their forwards. I hardly think we can put the clean sheet against Granada down to Real Madrid’s defensive prowess.
Benitez might like to ride this tide but he should know better that these results don’t mean much as far as winning major titles is concerned.
To win La Liga, it often comes down to who wins the big matches amongst Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Benitez has done nothing to suggest that Real Madrid would fare better against the tough teams than it did last season.
When this defense holds up against the likes of Messi, Suarez, Neymar and even Griezmann then we can talk about how good Benitez’s Real Madrid is defensively.
- It’s only four games. Four games is hardly a long enough period to judge any defense let alone Real Madrid’s, which is prone to carelessness and complacency.
Remember, last season Real Madrid had their best start to a season in history. In the first half of the season Real Madrid won 22 straight matches and it looked like Real Madrid would score an easy treble that time around.
As the season progressed, injuries and bad form took a toll on a good Real Madrid side and Real Madrid ended up winning nothing while Barcelona (who had a poor start to the season, relatively speaking) ended up with the treble with Messi regaining his long lost touch, at Camp Nou at least.
Let the season progress beyond 19 games or at least till Real Madrid play Barcelona sometime later this year to evaluate Real Madrid’s defense.
- Not conceding for four games in a row doesn’t change the fact that Real Madrid has Keylor Navas between it’s posts. Keylor Navas might think of himself as better than Casillas or De Gea, but to be fair (if Casillas isn’t having a bad season) Navas isn’t even close to the level Casillas and De Gea can reach when it comes down to it.
Navas’s lack of experience in big games and poor touch on the ball will hurt Real Madrid especially in big games in the Champions League.
Even when Real Madrid were cruising against Shakhtar, Navas took a bad touch on the ball and he was lucky the ball didn’t end up in the back of the net.
And who can forget the mistake he made against Espanyol last season when his dreadful ball control lead to Espanyol’s equaliser goal (Real Madrid eventually won the game 1-4).
Real Madrid has not been tested yet. Not in attack and certainly not in defense. To make conclusions on four performances against, at best, mediocre teams would be naive.
Naivety cost Real Madrid the whole of last season as well, so it would be better for Benitez to not go over his head and keep calm.
If Benitez’s Real Madrid is able to keep away Athletic Bilbao today and Atletico Madrid in a few weeks time, then we can start talking about how Benitez’s Real Madrid side was the greatest Real Madrid side, defensively, in the club’s history.
Right now, Benitez doesn’t have the necessary number of games under his belt to claim anything.
He would actually do well to give Jese Rodriguez more chances to play as a starter.
Maybe he doesn’t know that Jese Rodriguez was able to carve out a starting position for himself under Mourinho when the squad was more competitive than it is today.
Jese Rodriguez is a phenomenal talent (barring negative effects to his game from his horrible knee injury) and Benitez should take good care of this talent.
Rafa Benitez has had a solid start to the season but one look at the table shows that it isn’t enough. Barcelona is still two points ahead of Real Madrid and that too when most of their experienced defenders were out injured.
Real Madrid can beat Barcelona in any given match as is always the case but if Benitez continues to bask in his defensive capabilities then it would be hard for him to push his team to the next level.
The level where Real Madrid would be able to win titles by beating teams like Barcelona Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich.
The only intelligible thing I have heard Benitez say since his arrival at Real Madrid is that he doesn’t care about Ronaldo’s goals and that he wants the team to win first.
That philosophy is in stark contrast to Barcelona where it seems like the manager’s first priority is to get the best of Messi instead of winning titles for the club. It is another thing that by bringing the best out of Messi, Barcelona is able to win the titles it wants.
With that said, there can be no doubt of the fact Real Madrid look like a team that will be able to stand up against Barcelona later in the season and that Benitez has got the team balance just about right.
Tonight’s game will be the first test for Benitez as a Real Madrid manager.