Real Madrid took a commanding lead in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, beating Galatasaray 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Jose Mourinho's side have perfected the art of playing counterattacking football in a possession-based formation at home and executed a familiar plan perfectly on Wednesday night.
Let's tactically break down the match.
Real Madrid played their customary 4-2-3-1 with alternative full-backs. If Fabio Coentrao was a surprise selection, Michael Essien was downright shocking.
Galatasaray fielded a slightly looser version of the 4-4-2 diamond (nearer 4-3-1-2) seen away to Schalke 04 to start the match. Wesley Sneijder was in the hole behind the striking duo of Didier Drogba and Burak Yilmaz.
Gala's midfield shape was built to control possession and slow the tempo. At literally any other stadium in Europe, that would annoy the home side, but at the Bernabeu they love to play on the counterattack.
And that's what they did.
Selcuk Inan, Felipe Melo, Hamit Altintop and Wesley Sneijder worked some nice triangles and sequences of play, but as soon as the ball was turned over, Madrid were away.
This was most notably through Angel di Maria, who gave Albert Riera an absolutely horrendous examination down the touchline. The Argentine would either cut inside, stick to the byline or pass across the face of the "D" with devastating effect.
With a 4-4-2 diamond, there is an obvious lack of wide presence. Di Maria was able to get one-on-one with Riera (sometimes two-on-one when Essien joined in) and punish him.
The opening goal, scored by Cristiano Ronaldo, can be attributed to the work of three people.
Semih Kaya did a pretty atrocious job of setting the line, letting it drop and drop while not looking to see where the runners were coming from. The result was midfielders flooding forward and finding even more space opening up before their feet.
Emmanuel Eboue was fooled by a pretty routine move by Ronaldo, and the Portuguese managed to shift his marker and make a whopping five yards of space.
But perhaps most critically, it was the good work on the right-hand side. This time Mesut Ozil dropped in, cut back and fed a beautiful, scything pass for his teammate to finish.
The second goal, whilst far from pretty, was again the product of dominating one flank. Essien found himself with leagues of space to run into, and with Riera backing off, the Ghanaian looped in a semi-decent cross. Karim Benzema's finish was easy.
Gala weren't all bad—in fact, for spells they were excellent, and this was an open game—but there were big holes in the formation that, sadly, played right into Mourinho's hands.
At halftime, Fatih Terim made a change—a very bizarre change.
He switched to a 3-5-2 formation, which is something they have not used in Europe this season. Something had to happen, and Sneijder's limited impact meant he was a certainty to be subbed.
But Terim came to play, and he wanted to keep his striking duo on the field together.
Gokhan Zan came into the defence while Eboue and Riera became wing-backs, allowing the latter in particular more comfort in an advanced role.
The thinking behind the switch was clear—Sneijder had been unimpressive in linking the play, due to the attention of Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso, and the ball really needed to find Drogba's feet in the opponent's half more often.
The 3-5-2 gives you a more direct approach, and at 2-0 it made sense to force the issue.
Unfortunately, both Burak and Drogba remained starved. Madrid invited Gala onto them—they didn't press high—and simply asked their world-class midfield pivot to clean up the scraps.
Afterthoughts for Gala
Terim tried a third change in the final 10 minutes, bring on Umut Bulut on and playing a 3-4-3, but again no progress was made.
Analysing the game in terms of key events makes this look a whitewash, but despite the best efforts of Sky Sports' commentators, you should not walk away from this match believing Gala are sub-par.
The possession they maintained at the Bernabeu was positive, and the midfield worked very, very hard to stay competitive. Selcuk Inan is an excellent player who could play for most of the world's top sides.
Madrid inviting their opponents in saw Gala create three very good chances in the first half, and on a different day the Turkish side may well be sitting on an away goal.
They just met a very clinical Madrid on Wednesday.
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