Sunday, 8 March 2009

Derby Doldrums

You have to go back to 1999 for the last time Atlético beat neighbours Real Madrid, and, on the evidence of last night's performance, they may well have to wait another ten years to do so.

Not that Atlético did not deserve to win; they did. But if they're going to waste that many opportunities to score, then it will be a long time before they can slay their particular bête noire.

Real can count themselves lucky that they were not three goals down at the break. Pepe's suspension for an accumulation of bookings, meant Juande Ramos had to rearrange his back four. The last time Pepe was missing, Real Madrid lost a league game, at Barcelona, and it looks like Juande made a couple of tactical mistakes.

His first, playing Lass as right back and putting Sergio Ramos alongside Cannavaro in the centre of defence unbalanced the side and showed why Lass's presence as a defensive midfielder is crucial to Real Madrid's success. Everyone knows Salgado is not my favourite defender, but when Juande rectified in the second half and brought him on, the difference was palpable. Surely he should have picked either Salgado or Torres at right back, or even Metzelder in the centre and Sergio Ramos in his usual spot?

The other tactical error was leaving Higuaín out of the side. Though the young Argentine has not scored for a few games, he does lead the side in assists in the league, and soon after coming on for Guti he provided Huntelaar with his equalising chance, though he was admittedly offside.

Atlético fans will not just rue the many missed chances by Agüero, Forlán and the rest, they can also point to a poor performance from the referee, who not only missed Real's offside goal, but also disallowed a perfectly good Atlético goal and wanted nothing to do with a penalty on Agüero.

Real, on the other hand, will pack their bags for Tuesday's game at Liverpool knowing that Pepe should be the rock at the centre of defence and hoping that their creative players can find that spark they so sorely needed on Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Higuain, Huntelaar and Robben are 3 vital players. They make things happen up front. Nevertheless, this was hardly a reassuring performance. There is still a real lack of conviction and you can't the feeling that Real Madrid just can't put the pieces in the right place.

I was flabbergasted to see lasssana at right back. I only ever thought I would see him there if someone got sent off, and Juande had to re-jig the formation. At least Juande rectified his mistake.

Another mistake was having Guti on the pitch. He probably would have been one of the best players in the world in 50s. But this is the 21st century, and you have to know how to deal with pressure in tight spaces. I hope that Guti's reaction to being subbed (No me cambies ahora, joder... no me jodas...) ensures that he will be warming the bench for time to come. On the other hand, Juande will probably take no action against his insubordination. It is much easier to castigate the likes of Drenthe who don't pull the strings in the dressing room - or the board room.

John said...

Hey there, I've just uploaded my version of the match preview between Liverpool/Real Madrid. Indeed this will be the match of the season for Real, if they ar going to salvage something from this season.

In my opinion, the main battle will take place in midfield between Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago.

I know that Diego Maradona will have an eye on this two. Both players are vital for his future plan of our national team.

Anyway, what do you think about this match? We do appreciate your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

I see Gonzalo has has closed up shop for a while. Not that I blame him. What's the point in talking, or even thinking about Real Madrid after the spanking Liverpool gave them.

Somehow, deep down I still felt a pang of hope even when Guti came on to solve the situation. You can imagine the embarrassment saying that causes me. Annoying how hope is always the last thing to die...

football shirt said...

Indeed it was a big spanking.