Malaga 0-1 Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned
Real Madrid are now enjoying a three-point cushion at the top of the La Liga standings thanks to a tight 1-0 victory over Malaga. It wasn't the most attractive victory, but winning is always the most important thing.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal for Los Blancos, which sealed the victory, as he remained dangerous throughout the entire game. Malaga made things difficult at the end of the game, but the visitors were able to hold on to take all three points.
Carlo Ancelotti has had his side in fine form in 2014, and there is a lot for fans to be excited about. With that being said, let's now take a look at six things we learned from the victory at La Rosaleda.
*All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Isco Still Hasn't Found His Place
Former Malaga star Isco was handed a rare start for Real Madrid Saturday night, looking to fight for his place in the squad. Though the 21-year-old did not perform badly by any means, he continued not to play at his highest level.
It has been an odd season for Isco. Since joining Real Madrid, the midfielder has been in and out of the lineup with very inconsistent performances.
To be honest, there really isn't room in the starting lineup for Isco. He likes to play on the left of the attack or behind the forward, but those spots already have names that own them. Isco is going to have to settle for something else.
The 21-year-old has looked good when coming off the bench, and that is likely the role he will have to accept. The issue is that the club was expecting a bit more from the Golden Boy, but this is only his first year wearing the white shirt.
Willy Caballero Is More Important Than Ever
Another game, another massive performance from Willy Caballero. The Malaga keeper has been fantastic in every season he has played for the Spanish club and is clearly the most important player in the squad.
Last season, Malaga boasted one of the best defensive units in Europe. This year, the same is not true, yet they have still been able to play at a decent level, and it is all thanks to their rock of a keeper.
Against Real Madrid, Caballero's talent was on display yet again. The keeper made five important saves and was the sole reason why Real Madrid did not score more goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo was able to get off 10 shots in the match, including several dangerous attempts at the end of the game, but Caballero was all over it. The 32-year-old remains the key to Malaga and is always the reason for any success.
To give the club its fair credit, Malaga played a wonderful match against a much better opponent. Yet, Real Madrid should have scored more goals. Fans will yet again be thanking their hero Willy Caballero.
Carlo Ancelotti Is a Master of Rotation
Not only has Carlo Ancelotti been able to put Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, but he is also doing so by keeping everyone happy and fresh. The Italian manager has perfected his rotational policy, and it is paying off big time.
Real Madrid started the game with a front line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. Throughout the match, Ancelotti was also able to bring on Jese and Angel di Maria.
When a club is able to get five of its offensive stars on the pitch, you know it is doing something right. As mentioned earlier, Isco got to see his name in the starting lineup alongside Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric.
Being able to bring on Asier Illarramendi late was just another added bonus for Los Blancos.
Carlo Ancelotti is a huge reason for Real Madrid's success as of late. The manager is doing a wonderful job of getting everyone minutes and keeping players happy. That can only be a good thing for the Spanish giants.
Malaga Are Much Better Than Recent Results Suggest
Malaga have only won one of their last six matches. Understandably, they are not one of the darlings of Spain, but fans are still expecting more from their club.
In truth, Malaga have been a lot better than their recent results would suggest. Manager Bernd Schuster has been able to get his midfield unit and forwards to link up more together, and the squad is starting to show a consistent rhythm.
Let's be honest, no one was thinking that Malaga were going to win this game. Even though Real Madrid were visitors at La Rosaleda, they were still heavy favorites.
The outcome of the game does prove the point, though. Malaga have been playing some entertaining football as of late but just don't have the points to show from it. Sometimes, being unlucky just isn't fair, and that perfectly explains Malaga's case at the present time.
Real Madrid Starting to Cool Off
It has been an unbelievable year for Real Madrid. The Spanish giants have not lost a game in 2014 and have only suffered a draw twice. You read that right, Real Madrid have only dropped four points in the last three months.
Throughout January and February, Real Madrid were a well-oiled machine. The forwards were scoring tons of goals every game, while clean sheets became expected in each outing.
However, Los Blancos are starting to cool off just a bit. Do not get me wrong; they are still playing at a ridiculously high level, yet the toll of having to focus on European play is starting to put more pressure on the club.
In early March, Real Madrid played city rivals Atletico to a 2-2 draw. Though the two sides were evenly matched, the case could be made that Atletico were the better side.
Likewise, Real Madrid's 3-0 victory against Levante last week was a bit misleading. The pure quality of Los Blancos did Levante in, but there were times of shakiness from Real Madrid.
No club is able to stay hot forever. Real Madrid have enjoyed a wonderful three months, but the signs are starting to show that they are finally starting to cool down.
That isn't to say that poor form will ensue, just that they are not unbeatable.
The Pressure Is Back on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid
One of the joys of playing a relatively early match on a Saturday, Real Madrid already had their points in the bag before Atletico Madrid's 1-0 win over Espanyol.
With Los Blancos having set the standard and extended their lead, the massive pressure will now fall on their title rivals for the weekend.
Seeing that Real Madrid are at the top of the table, one would expect them to be playing with a lot of pressure each week. Yet, somehow they continue to force their opponents to be the ones that have to respond.
It has to be said that the schedule has really benefited Real Madrid this weekend, but next week is El Clasico, and that is where everyone's attention is already focused.
For now, Real Madrid are the top side in Spain. It doesn't look as though that will change anytime soon, but things could get interesting next weekend.
Will everything being said, we must tip our caps to Real Madrid. They faced a tough opponent on the road who refused to go down easily and still managed to take all three points. Champions know how to win the tough games.
What did you learn from Real Madrid's tight victory? Are Los Blancos starting to show signs of being human after all? Leave your thoughts and comments below.