Amidst tensions of a potential sacking of the manager, Real Madrid hosted Real Sociedad yesterday to end their year on high with a win that strengthens Benitez’s position at Real Madrid. In a clinical display of football by the Los Blancos, a total of 4 goals were scored on the night, 3 for Madrid and 1 for Sociedad with the highlight being the penalty that a certain Cristiano Ronaldo missed! Despite the win the Los Blancos beckon the new year sitting in the third position as their city rivals won their game against Vallecano and the Catalan giants have one game on their hands.
Since the loss against Villareal that laid bare Madrid’s defensive debacles, the 10 times Champions League winners took the game on its head a chose offense as their major tool to turn things around. In the past two games the Spanish giants have scored a whooping 13 goals and the fans would hope that this form continues when they take on Roma in the Champions League in February. While the attack is a force to reckon with, the defence is still in shambles. This was the case yesterday too as Bruma scored for without any trouble from the Madrid defenders. Though Madrid won the match it calls for major introspection and if Benitez aims to turn the ‘boos’ from the crowds into ‘yays’ he has to figure out a way to solve the defense problem.
Here are the player ratings from the match
A consistent goalkeeper
Keylor Navas has been remarkable in the goal keeping position for Real Madrid and though he cannot match the enigma of his predecessor, the same cannot be said about his abilities. The Costa Rican international has kept 7 clean sheets in 16 games for the Los Blancos and even yesterday he was instrumental is keeping the Sociedad attack from scoring. He made crucial clearances not allowing Bruma or Jonathas to take advantage of the mistakes made by the defense. As Madrid leave behind the year which wasn’t really a memorable one and look on to make the most of the new year, Navas will be their shining light and will be a key figure in the campaign of the Los Blancos.
An ailing defense
The Madrid defense has been shoddy and has let down the side in many a game from the loss to Eibar to the thrashing in the El Clasico and yesterday was no different. The presence of Ramos and Varane was sorely missed as the Pepe, Danilo and Nacho not knowing exactly how to tackle which saw Bruma score in a few minutes after Ronado fired his second penalty of the night into the back of the net. That wasn’t all for Sociedad as they kept finding gaps and taking shots. But thanks to the antics of a certain Keylor Navas Madrid steered the game home. The return of captain Ramos and Frenchman Varane will be awaited by the boss to strengthen the team at the back.
An average midfield
The midfield comprising of Kroos, Modric and James wasn’t entirely good and it also wasn’t terribly bad. Kroos hasn’t found his nick and has not been his ‘Munich remarkable self’ for Real Madrid. In his two seasons with the Los Blancos, the German has scored only 2 goals which is not even a shadow of his antics at the Allianz Arena. But being a German, Kroos has never faltered on the pace or the work rate but those remarkable crosses seem like a thing of the past. Modric too seems to have lost his nick and is struggling in the middle of the pitch which was very apparent in his game yesterday. James is arguably the only played weaving some magic in the middle but Benitez cuts his time short on the pitch everytime which has hampered his game after coming back from injury and also his relationship with the boss.
The return of BBC
The highlight of the match was the partnership between the trio, the crosses from, the passes and the shots. This star studded attack potentially hides the defensive flaws. Bale has been in scintillating form laying the ball in front of his team mates who just have to tap it in to score. Benzema too has been terrific despite his off field debacles and demons. As for the Portuguese, his goal scoring runs continues as he scored two goals in the match, one via a penalty and the other thanks to a Marcelo cross which he guided to the bottom left corner with a beautiful finish.