Monday, 6 October 2008

Raúl brace not enough to beat Espanyol

Espanyol put paid to Real Madrid's run of six consecutive victories in September and stole a point from the Bernabéu. The Barcelona club won the battle in midfield and frustrated most Real Madrid attacks with solid defensive work.

For their part, the Real Madrid back four did not have their best night. Heinze's clumsy challenge on Espanyol captain Raúl Tamudo resulted in a penalty, which Tamudo then expertly put away for Espanyol's first.

The lack of width in the Real Madrid midfield probably persuaded Sergio Ramos to join in the attack. His beautifully weighted cross was met by Raúl as he broke away from his marker. The captain has clearly benefited from being rested in midweek and is clearly most comfortable playing at home.

The equaliser did not seem to give Real Madrid any additional impetus. Poor defending from Heinze allowed Román Martínez to get the ball across Casillas' goal for Luis Garcia to put the Catalans ahead once more.

Deep in injury time in the first half, Raúl came once again to the rescue. The Real Madrid captain showed a clever bit of skill, taking advantage of a muddle in the Espanyol area to shift the ball quickly between his feet and put the ball beyond keeper Kameni. This makes a total of 16 goals that Raúl has scored against Espanyol in the Spanish league. Together with Valencia, Espanyol is the club that Raúl has scored most goals against.

The second half gave us more of the same, and, although Schuster brought Robben on for Van der Vaart to give his side some much needed width, the Dutchman only lasted 20 minutes before limping off with a pulled hamstring (though on Monday it was reported to be unlikely to be serious). Wesley Sneijder returned briefly from his preseason injury, but is clearly not yet fully match fit.

There were possible penalties at either end, and Van Nistelrooy could have grabbed a winner, but Kameni's reflexes saved his side. Diarra has been getting progressively better and was probably Real's best player in midfield. On the other hand, the Real Madrid forwards, other than Raúl, showed none of the accuracy which has been characterising the side in recent games. Higuaín was especially selfish, shooting several times from outside the box with little danger.

With the draw, Real Madrid drops to fifth in the table, just behind Barcelona on goal difference, who clearly stated their intentions this season with a thumping 6-1 demolition of Liga hopefuls Atlético Madrid (Real's next opponents on October 18th).


Anonymous said...

leaves a bad taste in the mouth to go into the international break. Atletí will come out all guns firing to make up for Saturday´s debacle in front of home crowd, so not sure if they will be able to gain 3 points there either. Very tight at the top and depressing to see Barça play such fluit football while RM seem unable to pass consistently and accurately. I agree about greedy in front of goal Ramos Higuaín and Robben went for long distance solo shots to the intense frustration of Nistelrooy who was in space.

Anonymous said...

We went back to being rubbish again. The side looked very unbalanced and uncomfortable in possesion. Espanyol dominated large parts of the match and it really is all the more humiliating as it was in the Bernabeu.

Of course the press is singing Raul's praises for getting 2 goals. But what about the shape of the team? On Wednesday we had Robben on the left and Higuain on the right supporting Van Nistlerooy. Yesterday it was every man for himself. Which other team in the world would replace a functioning formation with a shapeless one? It seems that as long as they can shoe-horn Raul into the line up it's OK.

Real Madrid will not opt for any major titles as long as they continue to sacrifice team objectives for the sake of one has-been's personal ones.

john said...

I should have known that someone would find a way to fault Raul for this draw, even though he was the soul goal scorer and one of the only players organizing on the attack. But somehow he's still to blame. Brilliant.

Brian said...

Cheers john.

The way Raul forced Heinze to pull down Tamudo in the box, and than lose his mark defending on the second goal is what killed them. Or how he forced Drenthe, Ramos, and Robben to take long hopeful shots.

I don't know how anyone BUT Raul could take the blame for this loss

Anonymous said...

So he had a good game because he scored 2 goals? Oh silly me, I forgot about that little fact. Must be a very player if he scored 2 goals...

Interesting how 'the team' is to blame when they lose - but if Raul does anything positive we have to hear about it from here to eternity.

The glaringly obvious fact that Madrid play better WITHOUT Raul doesn't seem to have dawned on some people. But what can you do? It's the player-manager that makes the decisions. Sorry, I should have said player-manager cum sporting director cum chairman.