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Real Madrid vs. Mallorca: 5 Things We Learned

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2013

Real Madrid vs. Mallorca: 5 Things We Learned

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    Real Madrid recovered from trailing 2-1 to thump Mallorca 5-2 on Saturday night at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Emilio Nsue was allowed too much time, heading into Diego Lopez's bottom corner and giving the visitors the lead inside the first 10 minutes.

    Good work from Luka Modric led to Gonzalo Higuain equalizing before another free header, this time from Alejandro Alfaro, restored Mallorca's advantage before halftime.

    Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil were introduced during the interval, and Madrid set about a 15-minute blitz that turned the game on its head.

    First Cristiano Ronaldo brought the scores level, and then Luka Modric, from all of 25 yards, fired Los Blancos into 3-2 lead.

    Minutes later, Higuain added his second of the night and, in doing so, killed off any hopes of a Mallorca comeback.

    Benzema added the fifth in stoppage time, but not before both sides had missed a number of chances.

    Read on for five lessons from the end-to-end clash in the Spanish capital...

Real Madrid Have a Rapid Change of Gears

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    We all know that they do, but once again Real Madrid demonstrated how quickly they can motor through the gears, whether that be in terms of a counterattack—as so often seen against Barcelona—or through the introduction of star players from the bench, as against Deportivo La Coruna recently.

    Tonight it was the latter.

    Trailing at the break, Jose Mourinho turned to Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema to get Los Blancos back on track.

    It didn't take long.

    Within 15 minutes, Real Madrid had gone from 2-1 down to 4-2 up.

    Ozil, of course, was involved in a lot of the play, but it was Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Gonzalo Higuain with the goals in that spell.

Manzano Can Keep Mallorca Up

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    Gregorio Manzano returned to Mallorca to replace the departed Joaquin Caparros in February with the aim of turning their season around.

    A slow start hardly set tails wagging with hopes of survival, but before Saturday night's match they had won their last two in La Liga, against Granada and Sevilla.

    Against Real Madrid they experienced a traumatizing second half, although the first half showed reasons for them to believe they can stay up.

    They looked particularly dangerous from set pieces, with Giovani dos Santos's deliveries causing plenty of problems, and created a lot of chances going forward—they had 13 shots.

    Dudu Aouate made a handful of saves in goal, too, and if he can replicate them in some of the tighter games in the run-in, he may win Mallorca some points.

    As it is though, they remain in the relegation zone with Zaragoza (26), Granada (27) and Osasuna (28) their immediate targets.

Luka Modric Is Coming to the Party

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    Luka Modric, in and out of the starting 11, has endured an unsettling period as he adapts to his new life in Spain.

    However, as we head towards the vital matches which will see Real Madrid competing on two fronts, it appears the little Croatian is ticking into form.

    His introduction against Manchester United changed the game in Los Blancos' favour—albeit against 10 men.

    And again, tonight, he was one of the contributing factors as Madrid clinched three points.

    His driving run and pass to Pepe was vital in the build up to Gonzalo Higuain's first goal, but the best was yet to come.

    From about 25 yards out, Modric superbly smashed the ball into the top corner to put Madrid into a 3-2 lead in the second half.

    If he continues to play like this, Jose Mourinho will find it hard to leave him out—but he probably still will.

Giovani Dos Santos Is Mallorca's Key

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    Injuries have plagued the young career of Giovani dos Santos, but if Mallorca can keep him fit until the end of the season, he could play a big part.

    Against Real Madrid, the Mexican directly set up Emilio Nsue's opener and delivered the ball for the second goal, which Pedro Bigas flicked on for Alejandro Alfaro.

    He was neat, tidy and technical with the ball as well—completing over 90 percent of his passes and providing four which were key (via WhoScored.com).

    He's also scored three goals since the turn of 2013 and assisted both the goals in the recent 2-1 win away at Granada.

    It's important for the Islanders to keep getting the best out of him, if they do, he could be the key to survival.

Madrid's Last 10 Games Can Be Exciting

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    Even if it's only temporarily, it seems that a certain amount of harmony has been restored within Real Madrid's expensive squad.

    Their main target, like a homing missile, remains the Champions League. La Decima.

    After that, their biggest priority would be beating city rivals Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey—they seem fairly accepting that La Liga is done and dusted.

    It is those two reasons that made the win over Mallorca so entertaining.  

    Los Blancos played without a fear factor, even when they were 2-1 down—which can't be said for some of their defeats against Andalusian sides.

    They also played with a belief and freedom that suggested they always knew they could win the game.

    Admittedly Saturday night's win was against a team at the wrong end of the table, but if that's to be their approach for their remaining league games, then they could provide plenty of fun yet. 

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