Monday, January 26, 2009

Jonarda 20: Real Madrid 1 - 0 Deportivo Coruna (Match Review)

Posted by: Paulo Martin, Spain

Real Madrid's Raul Gonzalez, centre, dribbles the ball through the Deportivo la Coruna defence during their Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Sunday Jan. 25, 2009.

5 wins in a row !

So we have made it 5 wins in a row now since playing Barcelona we have won 15 points ! And again we have regained our defensive strength maintaining yet another clean sheet.

Jonarda 20. Final score: Real Madrid 1 - 0 Deportivo la Coruña. A good win which now distances us from the likes of Sevilla & Valencia, both of whom failed to win this weekend making our second place spot a little safer. The first half had glimpses of vintage Real Madrid football with the team maintaining possession and attempting to score as quickly as possible. The team came out of the dressing room, firing on all cylinders and was a tad unlucky not to have scored early on in the game. The game perhaps didn't have as many chances as expected, especially from our point of view but still it was a much deserved win.

The New Makelele

The double pivot central midfield duo of Lass and Gago again dominated the play in the center of the park, though personally I feel it isn't needed during home games. Lass had an exceptional game; the lad does everything correctly, and makes things look easy which is what a quality defensive midfielder should do. I think at last we have found a player who could fill the legendary Makelele`s boots. Not only was he superb in destroying Depor`s attempts at creating football but he also isn't shy with the ball, making some quality passes and spreading the ball about nicely.

With around 40 minutes into the first half, game resumed from a corner kick awarded to Real Madrid. Lass latched on to a short corner pass from Sneijder on the left flank, and from the edge of the box, sent in a swirling, dipping cross which Raul glanced cleanly at the far post, past a stunned Munua. “1-0 to Real Madrid!” the commentators screamed, the Bernabeu erupted, but Raul didn’t kiss his wedding ring this time as expected. Instead he pointed at the Real Madrid crest, and then to Lassana and Sneijder; a gesture, which may well have been symbolic, for all we know.

We maintained possession and had numerous attacks in the first half and were very unlucky not to have scored a second with the referee and linesman denying Robben of his goal and being a little too benevolent with the yellow cards.
Higuain looked a little off today and wasn't his usual self but he always maintains his high level of commitment and excellent maneuverability. Robben was once again our best man; the Flying Dutchman looks simply unstoppable! He cleverly switched wings making it equally hard for Manuel Pablo and Filipe to stop him. He also had added help of an excellent S.Ramos who looks like his old self again bombing up and down the wing and sending in his trademark crosses.

Sleep, Sugar, Sleep

Everything that we did well in the first half, came undone in the second. Sneijder who was invisible all game (again!) was substituted for VDV who didn't offer anything to the game and yet again failed to prove himself. Drenthe came on for Raul, and was immediately booed by some sects of the fans, which is just shocking! It is appalling that the poor kid gets booed by the home crowd; this is going to do wonders for his confidence level. I know it was a small sector of the crowd who was booing (the same idiots who always do it viz. The Ultra Sur) but it was accentuated by the almost silent Bernabeu who seemed to have been hypnotized by the team’s poor display in the second half. Huntelaar hardly got a touch on the ball, but towards the dying seconds of the game, after yet another sublime run down the flank by Robben, he (Huntelaar) was unlucky not to have scored with a good save by Munua. Casillas again had to pull off one of his wonder saves to stop Lafita`s shot, but was almost surprised on another occasion, by a long range effort by Filipe which ricocheted of the crossbar into the stands. Apart from these two chances, Deportivo didn't really threaten us all game.

As i mentioned before a positive note to be derived from this match, is yet another clean sheet. Pepe, who didn't really have a great game, still maintained a dignified level of play all game, Cannavaro who looked much better tonight than in previous matches was commanding our defence and Heinze who failed to attack his wing and deliver a cross well enough most times, did maintain a high level of play at the back and looked very good to my surprise. All in all it certainly wasn't our best match but we maintained our winning streak which is really all that matters now, if we want to have a shot at a comeback further down the line.

We lost a more of possession and failed to capitalize on our chances towards the end, which gave Deportivo wings. Depor’s sole objective was to draw 0 - 0 and they came close to it, had it not been for Raul`s goal. I was thankful to Lotina for granting me the pleasure of watching the magnificent Juan Carlos Valeron in action for what may well be the last time. Valeron clearly maintains his elegance and breathtakingly precise passing ability but lacks the in the physical department.

Number 7, a Legend

Raul didn't really participate much in the game tonight, mainly due to not receiving many quality through balls (we may be missing Guti). But he scored his 305th goal in 501 matches in style and is now the leagues highest active goalscorer and is only 1 goal away from breaking the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano`s record.

Some sectors of the crowd were shocked when Juande Ramos brought in Drenthe to replace Raul. As Raul walked down to the bench, the crowd acknowledged his contribution and in that moment, it was quite evident that Real Madrid is Raul Madrid.

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