Getafe V Real Madrid: A Tale Of Two Halves
The headline says it all. The first half of the critical clash between La Liga title contenders Real Madrid and Getafe whetted the appetite of fans and caused many a frown on the brows of their detractors.
The mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo - CR 9, opened the flood gates of what was expected to be a deluge of goals matched only by the deluge that fell from the sky throughout the game. With a trademark free kick, the former World Football Player of the Year put the Galacticos in command in the 13th minute of play.
Argentinian goalkeeper Ustari had no chance as the ball swerved its way into the left upright of his goal. The 80 million pound signing then followed up a minute later with a rasping 20 yard shot that the keeper was just able to parry over the bar to prevent Getafe from going 2 goals down in quick succession.
Before he could finish whispering a prayer of thanks for divine intervention, in-form striker Higuain was fed an excellent through ball from Van der Vaart and the marksman made no mistake in expertly slotting the ball out of the goalkeepers reach. This just in the 20th minute.
Three minutes later and Ustari was busy again having to retrieve the ball from the back of his goal as Higuain made it 3-0 in minute 23. Surely spectators and fans thought they were in for a treat as Real appeared to be in a no-nonsense demolition mode and at full control in the driver's seat.
The Argentinians Messi and Higuain, seemingly having found the elixer that bestows the gift of scoring goals as they sit atop the scoring table in the La Liga. Lets hope it was not provided by coach Maradona, Then again lets not as this is the form that I hope to see in South Africa in June. Provided of course its non-narchotic.
At minute 37 the excitement rose yet to another level as CR9 collected a pass to the right of goal and with much disdain for the Getafe keeper he let rip a rasping rocket of a shot from an acute angle that flew into the back of the net before his team mates and his opposing players new what whizzed by them. Indeed many thought that at this rate we were in for a treat to witness a 6-0 or even a 9-0 drubbing.
But as I've said before, Real Madrid achilles heel lies in their leaky defence and with an errant back pass that forced goal keeper Casillas to race outside of his 18 yard box to act as sweeper, Getafe took full advantage along with a little help from the Referee.
The goal keeper was bundled over outside of his area and in what at best may be described as a questionable play, gifted Leon possession of the ball with an empty net at his mercy. He calmly passed the ball over to Parejo and despite at least two Real defenders in between the midfielder and the goal, they stood frozen as he made no mistake in burying the ball in the back of the net.
Despite the cries of foul and unsportsman behaviour by Madrid, the Referee decided the match was becoming too one-sided so he allowed Getafe's consolation goal to stand. This seemed to have energised the home side. The half ended with their ascendancy as Casillas was called on to make several saves.
The second half progressed in stark contrast to the first as Madrid appeared to have lost interest in the game and took their foot off the gas pedal and applied the brakes.
Getafe rang in the changes to start the second half and came out ready to slug toe to toe with their more illustrious La Liga counterparts.
As Real tried to maintain possession and run the clock down, Getafe grew in confidence and had an inevitable break through in the 80th minute. Celestini's weak shot took a deflection and fortuitously fell at the feet of Leon who said thank you and slotted pass the hapless Casillas.
A relieved Real Madrid survived the second half rally from Getafe and seemed to hold on for a 4-2 win to regain the lead at the top of the table with 71 points.
Certainly not an awe inspiring performance from the potential league winners and one their coach, Manuel Pelligrini would certainly have some choice words for his collection of star players. After all, with their exit from the UEFA Champions League and the La Liga title their only remaining consolation prize, every goal counts as it may be decided by goal difference. They also need to capitalise on every opportunity to send a strong message to their nemesis Barcelona.
Instead the clear message sent was our backline remains questionable and so whoever out shoots the other will win. Although I'm not that impressed with Barca's backline either, I think they are more air tight than Real's. This being said, with the form that Messi is in, there are'nt too many defences in the world and on any team that can contain him.
This is the pivotal stage that will determine the league winners. The full arsenal of mind games and psychological advantage has to be capitalised on to apply pressure to the other team. Barca looked off par in their win against Osasuna and so today Madrid missed a glorious chance to let the title holders know we are in-form and are coming full tilt at you.
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