Real Madrid suffered an embarrassing 5-1 loss to their rival, Barcelona in the Clasico on Sunday, and manager, Julen Lopetegui’s job is on the line, as he has lost six of his last seven games in all competitions.
The post Ronaldo effect. Real Madrid sold their club record goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, in the summer to Italian champions, Juventus, and were unable to replace him. The only notable signing of the summer was academy graduate, Mariano Diaz. Los Blancos have found it difficult to replace their former talisman on the big stage. Ronaldo has scored 7 goals and provided 4 assists in 10 Serie A matches for the Turin giants all in the same period Real Madrid have gone without scoring. In their el clasico thrashing, they missed chances Ronaldo would have easily converted. Now, they are feeling the heat of letting their former talisman leave without replacing him.
Inability to take chances. In football, you can’t win if you don’t score, and you cannot score if you don’t take your chances, that has been the story of the Whites so far, and in the clasico, it was evident. The first chance fell to Madrid number nine, Kareem Benzema, but the Frenchman blasted the ball well over the bar. Gareth Bale had just one meaningful shot in the entire game, and it did not trouble Marc-André ter Stegen in goal for Barcelona. After the break, the away side started on a high note, they got an equalizer, but missed all the chances they created.
The way the team set up. Julen Lopetegui has come under scrutiny a lot this term with the way he sets up his team, sometimes favouring the Spanish players more. But against a Barcelona side that that have fast players, Lopetegui decided to go for a slow Nacho Fernández as the rightback, leaving out a natural pacey right fullback in Álvaro Odriozola. It backfired spectacularly, as the pace of Jordi Alba was too much for Nacho. The first goal was a long ball to Alba, and Nacho could not catch up. Second goal, Nacho could not catch up. There were a few other attempts as Alba was simply too much for his compatriot.
Julen Lopetegui’s tactics. While the team set up was not 100 percent perfect, he made a tactical switch to a back three, dropping Casemiro to the defence. It worked out fine as Marcelo and Lucas Vasquez had enough room to move up. But, when it was not working again, Lopetegui failed to read the game and make a tactical tweak to his. When Marcelo picked up an injury, Lopetegui made a lovely switch, by bringing on Mariano, but he did not change the team set up, pushing Marco Asensio to the left wing. Barcelona took advantage of Asensio’s inability to defend.
Kareem Benzema. It is no news that Benzema doesn’t function well as a top striker. Many thought he would step up with the sale of Ronaldo, but on the big stage against Barcelona, he messed up again. Benzema had the first chance, after being picked out by Bale, but he blasted the ball over the bar. There were times he needed to pick out a team mate, but he always took one touch too many, and lost possession too easily. In all 90 minutes against Barcelona in the clasico, Benzema played five shots, and none was on target, and he had just 40 touches, the fewest by an attacking Madrid player.
By Boluwatito Omoniyi