Real Madrid: 5 Observations from the 1-1 Draw Against Valencia
Real Madrid's season did not kick off as hoped after drawing with Valencia at the Bernabeu. Obviously all criticisms should be taken with a grain of salt with 37 games to go. However, there is always room for improvement.
Higuain scored early in the 10th minute with an assist from his countryman Di Maria, but Valencia leveled the score off a Jonas header in the 42nd minute. This also resulted in a collision between Iker Casillas and Pepe, who had to be subbed off at halftime.
With a heated second half featuring no goals, José Mourinho was left needing to reassess his tactics to try to compete with Barcelona in the upcoming supercup. La Blaugrana had an amazing start against Sociedad at Camp Nou. Here are five observations from the game!
Set-Piece Defending Needs to Improve
Real Madrid has always had a problem defending set-pieces, and today was no different. After a Tino Costa free-kick, Pepe, Ramos and Casillas collided, leaving Jonas to score in the 42nd minute. Although Iker was able to continue despite his dazed look after the incident, Pepe had to be subbed off. He is reportedly being monitored in the hospital tonight.
Mourinho needs to work on defending set pieces, but this has been a reoccurring theme throughout his reign in Madrid. Although this is the first game of the season, organization needs to be established.
Offensive Set-Pieces Are Equally Bad
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Real Madrid had 12 corners throughout the match, and each one was completely wasted. The constant winning of corners was actually detrimental to Madrid's chances of scoring a second goal, as they never reached their target and ended up wasting time.
The free kicks weren't so hot either, as they were very predictable for the Valencia defense. Some improvement came when Xabi and Cristiano Ronaldo tried a Barcelona training-ground esque free kick. However, their movements were easily predicted by the opposition, and it resulted in another wasted opportunity.
With so many tall players like Ronaldo, Higuain, Benzema and Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid really need to make the most of their chances, especially from set-piece situations!
Fouls! Fouls! and More Fouls!
This match was full of injuries and stoppages, and there were a total of 5 yellow cards in the match -- 4 of which were awarded to Valencia. Feghouli kicked Sergio Ramos in the head with a very high kick. Some fans were calling for a red card for the dangerous play, under the assumption that if Pepe had done the same thing, he would be immediately red-carded and possibly banned multiple games.
It's worrying for Real Madrid that so many players have been injured in the first match with the supercup coming. Although Ramos seemed okay after getting treatment, Casillas still seemed dazed after the match, Pepe is in the hospital, and Di Maria also was subbed off after being clipped by Fernando Gago.
Hopefully injuries do not plague Madrid as they did with Barcelona last season.
Diego Alves Is Amazing but Finishing Needs to Improve
Diego Alves, who is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, displayed his prowess against Los Merengues. If you remember, he was the one who saved Lionel Messi's penalty last year!
Real Madrid managed 11 shots in the game, 8 of which were on target. In the second half, Alves was a beast and he was making impossible-looking saves over and over again to frustrate the Madrid forwards. In contrast, Valencia only had 2 shots, with 1 of them being on goal. Valencia was extremely efficient, but Real Madrid kept on wasting chance after chance, as well as being caught offside unnecessarily.
Jose Mourinho needs to help players create chances when defenders are defending tightly and close together. If they cannot score in these situations, it will be very difficult to win the league.
Modric Would Be a Welcome Addition
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Many fans have been greatly opposed to the signing of Luka Modric, but in my opinion, he would be an amazing signing for Real Madrid. Today, the attack was unable to pass the Valencia defense, and as time went on, Madrid's frustration prevented them from scoring a second.
Modric would provide another attacking option for José Mourinho from central midfield, as he has masterfully done in his last season with Tottenham. The croatian would not start every match, but in situations like these, he would be a perfect super-substitution to score against teams that "park the bus."
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Although it is easy to write off Madrid after the first match after Barcelona's amazing display versus Real Sociedad, there are 37 games to go. Against the 3rd-best team in La Liga, it was a respectable start, not a disaster.
Mourinho has some points to improve on, and hopefully Pepe gets out of the hospital safe and sound! Los Blancos have some time to work on the negative aspects of their game ahead of the Supercup match against La Blaugrana.
What are your opinions of the match?