Friday, January 16, 2009

Jonarda 18: Real Madrid vs Mallorca (Match Review)

Posted by: Paulo Martin, Spain.

Real Madrid's Arjen Robben (R) shoots to score against Real Mallorca's goalkeeper Dudu Aouate during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Ono stadium in Palma de Mallorca January 11, 2009.

Manual for the perfect counter attack.

Real Madrid`s recuperation process is following the strict script written by Juande Ramos. A better defensive system and taking advantage of counter attacking football. For now, our play isn't a priority, it doesn't have to aesthetically pleasing. With this rescue plan in motion, the team beat Mallorca with outstanding authority, Mallorca was a sad team which went from bad to worse with difficulties which reach all aspects of the club. For Real Madrid, Mallorca was a perfect rival to face. Robben & Higuain perfectly interpreted the counter attack and gave Mallorca no option.

The plan came together from the very start. Two light chances from Mallorca served as a prologue for Real Madrid`s first goal. Casillas intercepted a cross, he observed Raul was free and passed him the ball. The build-up to the attack following this was by the book. Raul to Higuain, who crossed the ball aerially to the right flank, were nobody had picked up Robben. The flying Dutchman accelerated and scored through Aoute's legs in a one-on-one situation . The goal accentuated the signs of things to come for both the teams. Real Madrid waited and counter attacked. Mallorca just fell apart.

A lethal problem for Real Madrid had been its fragile defence. In the last two months of the Schuster era the team received an average of two goals per game, a sum that is simply unacceptable for a team with Real Madrid`s aspirations. Closing that hemorrhage was a priority. The numbers under Juande Ramos are inspiring: Real Madrid hasn't conceded a goal in its last three games, against Valencia, Villarreal and Mallorca. Yesterday the team didn't need to rely on Iker Casillas, except to confirm that the keeper is a fundamental piece of the teams counterattack. His vision, which is very rarely mentioned about goal keepers, resulted decisive in the first goal and, later on, in an electrical play that Robben was unlucky not to have scored his second with a shot off the post. The virtue for consolidating the defence took another big step with Lassana Diarra`s presence, another specialist for the team that against Mallorca fielded its best defence (S.Ramos-Pepe-Cannavaro-Heinze) and another specialist in closing down players, Gago.

This all resulted too much for Mallorca who`s poor play and lack of ideas led to the teams defeat. You could see how frustrated they were by looking at their best players face, Arango. He expressed the teams lack of spirit and lack of vitality. Without play, without players, without vitality, Mallorca got caught up in Real Madrid`s defensive web. The second goal killed what little hope Mallorca had of attempting to fight back. Corrales failed to control a long ball which landed at Hgiuain`s feet, who once again manifested into the quality player that he is, appearing from further back where defenders didn't detect his presence. He split through Mallorca`s defensive line like a missile and sent in a dangerous low ball across the face of the goal. Raul was lurking inside the box for this eventuality. He quickly latched on to the ball and with his first touch, elegantly back-heeled the ball in past a stupefied Aoute before the crowd could even come to terms with what happened. A magnificent goal to celebrate his 500th league appearance.

Other than Real Madrid`s constant danger through its brilliant counterattacks the match had nothing more to tell. Mallorca`s monotony became dispairing. It was also clear that Real Madrid had no interest in managing the play, or taking it to Mallorca`s half. Pepe raised to the occasion and the rest of the defence responded with efficiency. Lassana Diarra confirmed his dynamic style of play, yet he didn't show much flair with the ball. That was reserved for Higuain who`s place in the starting XI isn't argued anymore, and Robben, who gave Corrales one of the worst nights of his life.

The evident win invited Jaunde Ramos to make some changes. Van Der Vaart and Huntelaar both came on. Sergio Ramos`s goal, a good volley which saw Aoute let a goal in through his legs for the second time that night and also marked his first goal of the season didn't really modify the game. Huntelaar currently is no match for Higuain though. He doesn't seem comfortable yet. Aoute made two routine saves from him after two typical center forward strikes. The young Dutchman needs to do a lot more than what he has shown to earn a starting spot in this Real Madrid team. Juande Ramos knows what he wants, the team is responding to that and we don't for see any major changes in the team in the near future.

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