Monday, January 19, 2009

Jonarda 19: Real Madrid 3 - 1 Osasuna (Post Match Review)

Posted by: Ashay K, India.

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos from Spain, center, reacts with fellow team members Pepe, right, and Arjen Robben from the Netherlands, left, after scoring a goal against Osasuna during their Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.

A Tale of 2 Halves and a Referee

Jonarda 19. Final score: Real Madrid 3 – Osasuna 1. A comfortable win by a 2 goal margin. Yet another win under Juande Ramos. But these facts do not tell the full story. They do not tell of the saga that was written in those 90 minutes with two different contrasting plays and in which referee Perez Burull played a major role.

The Osasuna Story

Real Madrid began the 1st half very nervously with almost everyone looking quite rusty, especially the defence, which was quite reminiscent of the defence under Schuster. Predictably, Osasuna started pressing forward with intent and about a quarter of an hour later came the first real chance, when Juanfran drilled in a shot down the centre of the pitch which was parried away easily by Casillas. Osasuna kept up the attack and soon enough Plasil broke away from Gago on the right flank and sent in a dangerous cross. Cannavaro, stuck with two Osasuna players to fend off, got elbowed away and Neckounam glanced the header away to the far post, past a bewildered Casillas. While Osasuna celebrated their first goal away at the Bernabeu, the Real Madrid players were left to come to terms with the fact that we were indeed 1 goal down against a relegation threatened team.

As the first half wore on, the team began showing intent of scoring and slowly but steadily, started playing slick, possession football. Lass and Gago made some strong tackles in the midfield to win the ball. Gago had a scorcher at goal from almost 40 yards out but shot just wide into the stands. Meanwhile, Higuain went down just inside the box looking for a penalty but was booked for diving. On the other end, Juanfran was supposedly brought down by Gago in the box. But replays showed that though Gago had a foot on him, he (Juanfran) had kicked the ball far ahead and was never going to get there in time. Perez Burull whipped out the yellow and booked Juanfran for diving, which was quite rash under the circumstances.

Towards the end of the first half, Real Madrid were positively dominating possession and were more and more threatening by the second. Ramos skied a header from a Sneijder cross, whereas a Raul cross went begging insde the box. Ramos then headed another Sneijder cross into goal but was ruled offside and rightly so. The teams walked to their respective dressing rooms soon after as the scoreboard read 0-1 to Osasuna.

A Tactician’s script

Real Madrid came out of the tunnel with two changes to the starting XI. Van der Vaart had predictably come on for Sneijder who hadn’t done much in the first. The other change was a surprise with Huntelaar coming on for Cannavaro. Many madridistas balked at this sudden change, but then soon relaxed when they saw Sergio Ramos moving down the centre of the defence and Lassana Diarra playing on the right flank. Van der Vaart took up the slot freed up by Lass and Huntelaar moved up front.

The start of the second half was delicately positioned with nothing much happening. However 10 minutes into the half, the ball was passed on to Ramos from the left flank who drilled a low shot in from thirty yards out. The ball bounced some feet ahead of the Osasuna keeper, Roberto, who misjudged the bounce and made a right mess out of it by palming it into his own net. Suddenly the Bernabeu erupted with the fans cheering “Vamos” for Sergio Ramos who notched his 2nd goal in consecutive matches for the club. Real Madrid was suddenly back into the game. From there on, everything followed as per Juande Ramos’ script. Madrid took control of the match and pressed on trying to penetrate the Osasuna defence further. Robben, who was largely quiet the entire match so far, since all the play was down the centre, latched on to a haphazard pass from Heinze on the left flank. He waltzed over the ball with a couple of defenders watching him just outside the box, then skipped past them and squared a menacing low ball past Roberto. Higuain rammed the ball home from three yards out for the 2nd goal of the match. A dejected Osasuna saw their hopes shatter once more while the players and the Bernabeu celebrated a goal which would prove to be the turning point in the game.

As the match wore on Osasuna retreated further and started relying more on long balls and counter attacks. It was one of these counter attacks which saw Juanfran skip free past the Madrid defence. Pepe followed him right to the very end, halting only after bringing him down inside the box. While the onlookers, players and spectators braced themselves for the upcoming penalty decision, referee Perez Burull handed the Bernabeu faithful a late Christmas present by ruling the decision against Osasuna and booking Juanfran for protesting. Juanfran had to exit soon after, having got the second yellow that day for no fault of his. To say that the referee conditioned the match is an understatement. He had just handed the match on a platter to Real Madrid, but hey, who’s complaining?

Osasuna simply lost interest in the match after this and the last ten minutes were quite forgettable with Madrid not willing to take the game to Osasuna and the latter having simply lost interest in the encounter. The last nail in the coffin came in the 91st minute (in injury time), when Robben dribbled past two defenders on the right flank and scored the third goal from a tight angle past a hapless Roberto.

Resilience in its prime

We at Real Madrid have seen more than a fair share of controversies this season. With Ramon Calderon doing the run only a couple of days prior to the match and a new interim president appointed, things couldn’t get worse at the club. But in these times of turmoil, the spirit of the players, the “never say die” attitude and the brilliant tactics of Juande Ramos saw Madrid win yet another game. And that’s what is important for us right now. We can wait for the aesthetically pleasing game. Right now there is a job to be done and all I can say is, we are doing a pretty good job.

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  1. Regarding Juande, I am quite pleased with the direction the team seems to be going in. More than anything he has managed, in a short amount of time, to recover the spirit of the team under Capello. A game like yesterday against Osasuna, we would have lost just two months ago under Schuster.

    I think it's much better to come in with a clear idea of the tactics. Even if we don't have all of the players to play 4-4-2 perfectly (i.e. no wingers), I think it is still better to say "We are playing 4-4-2" than to say just pick a bunch of players and send them out with no shape and then have the team end up playing 4-1-1-1-1-1-1.
    Having said that i think he should play with only one of Gago and Lass in the Bernabeu. I'm really hoping Parejo gets a chance. VDV continues to offer absolutely nothing imo.

  2. to add to that i think sneijder is doin not much either...however we do sometimes buy players coz fans want it... vvery stupid

  3. Well To be Honest we are too impatient to see players playing at high level, Sneijder has shown his glimpse of class and he'll be back to his best. Bad patches come to everyone and he is not playing well after his injury for second time, I hope he gets back to his best.

    As far as Match is concern, we had a Spark missing first half which followed by Brilliant second. Lucky though in terms of referee but its rare in case of Madrid so I'll take it.

  4. Sneijder is being played of position which is common at RM. But we should change our formation to get the most out of the players we have. I mean we play a flat 4-4-2 so we don't play with an attacking mid, that means Sneijder/Guti/VDV all of whom play in the same position either don't play or play in our positions which is unfair for them and we never see the best of them.

    Imagine buying Kaka and have him play on the left wing lol. Whats the point of that ? We should play players in there ideal positions if we ever want to see the best of them.

    This happened to Robinho who was stuck on the right wing when his ideal position is behind the striker, same with Zidane who was stuck on the left wing in many games. I think this points a finger at a certain someone who we all love and adore but im not sure should be starting for anymore.

  5. Well Paulo, that is true and not true. I think Raul has endured his fair share of playing out of position as well. In fact, coaches during our 4 year draught and raul's 4 year draught benched him as u can see, madrid has done well when raul has done well.

    and out of the current crop of strikers that we have in our squad, raul is still the best. he always scores when the team needs it most. not to mention the fact that when he plays as a support striker, he is quite instrumental in driving the defenders away from the target man, which is how RVN owes a lot of goals he's scored to raul.

    having said that, I do feel that he should be used sparingly, and only in big matches. A fully fit Raul is the most deadliest player in a big match.

  6. Well no one can deny Raul's scoring ability till date, he is still the best scorer to the team when needed, a Big match scorer. Looking forward for Raul scoring at Bernabeu and Anfield with Real moving to quarters beating Liverpool.

    As far as Tactics are concerned, I believe its common everywhere that players play out of poistion but best still prevail. Sneijder's class has let him shine even out of position and he's just facing a bad patch.
    About formation I still believe the breed of players we have and the class of a coach at Helm, we must play with 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 with Gago and Lass in Central role Sneijder on left Guti as an attacking midfelder, Robben on right switching flanks and Ral as Lone Striker. A formation which demolished Barca at Bernabeu last season when Madrid played best football in recent past.
    As far as I have seen, Raul has performed much better as Lone striker as it allows him to stay in box and promotes the chances of scoring with playmakers like Guti,Sneijder and Gago and Flankers like Robben. A formation can be tried against Liverpool to contain midfield.

  7. ya but do we really want to play pass it to raul game? isnt that what made henry diminish at arsenal later on... i think raul needs to start bench a bit more

  8. even in last season at Arsenal he was their best talisman and Adebayor had to wait to till he was fone to become their top scorer.
    with even Higuain and Huntelaar at RM, still Raul is our best scorer in worst times. No doubt Higuain had done superb this season but he had been tried as a lone target man upfront and was pretty bad except 1 game or so..while Raul is still as dangerous as before when play as lone striker.
    Remember if we are only looking at Liverpool game then we have to contain midifeld to score goals against their steady defence and best way RITE NOW can be to play 4-5-1