Real Madrid: 5,000 Goals but Too Many Holes

GonzaloCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2008

Real Madrid kicked off their league championship at home with a victory, but failed to convince the local fans that they have reinforced the squad sufficiently over the summer.

They left the pitch to a mixture of boos and applause, having barely managed to subdue a rival that has only just been promoted to the top division. On the other hand, Numancia did beat Barcelona in their league opener two weeks ago, and clearly have the motivation and possibly the talent to stay up this season.

The worrying thing for the home side was that their defence, which it was felt needed the least tweaking, was at fault for the three (yes, three) goals that Numancia managed to put past Iker Casillas.

To be fair, a back four composed of Salgado, Metzelder, Pepe and Marcelo would not perhaps be Schuster's first choice. With Sergio Ramos nursing a knock from his international appearance in midweek for Spain, and Cannavaro still not fully fit, this was something of a second-string defence. I suspect, however, that Schuster was not expecting Numancia to play as offensively in the Bernabéu as they did.

The two central defenders did not seem to be able to cope with Numancia's tactics on the pitch and were frequently caught out of position, and the whole of the back four were all at sea on set plays. It was thus no surprise that Numancia's first came from a corner, as Moreno was allowed a free header just six minutes into the game.

However, where Numancia were tough on attack, they were equally soft on defence. They managed to shut out Barcelona on their first league game, but Los Pajaritos is a very small pitch and it's relatively easy to close down spaces. In the Bernabéu, there was plenty of room for the likes of Guti, Van der Vaart and Robben to get the ball to Van Nistelrooy and Higuaín.

It would be Guti, however, who would get the equaliser, with the help of a deflection from Boris. It was also a landmark goal, Real Madrid's 5,000th in the Spanish league.

Just three minutes later, in the 21st minute, Numancia edged ahead again with a spectacular strike from Barkero, who had easily beaten Metzelder for speed. The scoring was not over in this half characterised by poor defending, as Higuaín levelled the scores, followed by two more goals from Van der Vaart and an own goal by Cisma to put Real 4-2 ahead before the break.

Real Madrid may have thought this would put paid to the upstarts from Numancia, but 10 minutes into the second half, Moreno got his second from a free kick that Casillas may have been able to deal with a little bit better.

Guti seemed to lose his way a little and Numancia even got close to an equaliser in the dying seconds, but Real managed to hold on to their three points.


View the original article at the All In White blog.