Real Madrid: Real Problems at the Bernabeu
On watching today's game it could be said that there was definitely a case for free flowing and crowd pleasing attractively conspired football being played in Madrid.
Both of the teams that lined up for the game today had renowned players and a history of well constructed and educated technique.
Real Madrid were in the unfamiliar position of looking up the table toward others who were in a far stronger position than they, and also of having one of the most unreliable rearguards in their illustrious history.
Sevilla, the visitors were coming off a convincing 3-0 defeat to in-form Barcelona but had been, previous to this game, on a reasonable run of results and had demonstrated a real eye for goal in their five games prior with twelve goals for, and only three against.
Considering the three goals they conceded were all against a Barcelona team that have been running rampant against all-comers, they were in reasonable nick with clean sheets in the other four games along with the aforementioned twelve goals scored.
Listening to the commentary team you were well aware of the need and the expectation that surrounds Real Madrid before every game.
A team of their proud history is not meant to concede a goal in the third minute of play.
Sevilla were in no mood for a history lesson though, and after their anchorman Andres Palop had made an early save, it was their turn at the other end with Jesus Navas sending over a beautifully weighted ball that keeper Casillas could only get fingertips to.
Slightly altering the path of the ball, it fell to the feet of gifted Brazilian Adriano, who smashed in a first time jumping shot that the remaining defenders could only pick up out of the net.
Notably at this point the Meringues decided to try and play a little football and after some good play from their midfield and attack, the irrepressible Raul was able to bring them level with a sumptuously taken header from a Guti free kick.
It demonstrated the strength and ability of the veteran striker. Two of the longest serving players combining to undo the damage.
From here it was equal again and by all accounts it looked as if the Madrid side had even gained the upper hand, with Arjen Robben looking particularly dangerous.
Apparently Sevilla were in goalscoring mood though and were soon back in front courtesy of Ndri Romaric, who has looked a good acquisition for the Seville club after his off season signing from Le Mans.
Not only that they decided they needed another before the break and after a fairly decent attacking move and some terribly amateur defending Sevilla went three up thanks to the cool head of Freddy Kanoute—who is still making his short stint in England look like his warm up period.
The big striker put himself about extremely well in the first half, giving any front man out there who is coming through the ranks a good idea of how to really make your size and pace count for the good of your team mates.
So at the break it was 3-1 to the visitors and not the game that many were expecting, but in another way no one was really surprised after Madrid's recent form.
After enduring the frustrated boos of the home crowd the Madrid side must have decided to listen to coach Bernd Schuster and 25 or so minutes into the second half they found themselves level after some really entertaining endeavour and attacking verve which belied the dismal display of their first half efforts.
Gonzalo Higuain seemed to decide he had had enough and did something about it, with a thirty yard screamer to the bottom corner that gave another glimpse of his class if his four goals against Malaga recently were not enough.
If that was not enough, two minutes later they were level when Gago—of all people—headed home after a spell of pressure that was reminiscent of the play that is associated with the famous white clad team.
But for Madrid it then all went horribly wrong, in a moment that perhaps took people back to the European Champs and the Dutch meltdown, the Dutch star Robben was sent for a little time out to get his kit in order with his second yellow, for arguing with the referee.
77 minutes gone and it was 3-3.
Remarkably Real Madrid continued to press and were unlucky not to take the lead.
But in the 85th minute, as had happened earlier in the match, Brazilian Marcelo was nowhere to be seen as Kanoute got down the right hand side of the pitch and whipped over a quite exquisitely placed cross for his Brazilian team mate, Renato, to head home at almost point blank range.
The winner flew past the absolutely enraged Casillas, who was not inviting his defenders to his Christmas get together with the outburst that followed.
A few tense minutes for the Sevilla side as they played out the last minutes and then they were home, off down the road with the points and a victory that for their team will be almost as sweet as a trophy.
The big questions are going to have to be answered by Bernd Schuster now though.
Woeful defending, poor organisation, and sloppy control of possession were all noticeable in this match and the ones who seemed to take the most notice unfortunately for the champions were their opponents, who cut and thrust at any weakness that they were able to search out.
They have apparently now signed Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to help with goalscoring duties after the loss of the talismanic, Rutgerus van Nistelrooij, but it is in their star studded defence and midfield that they seem to be having more problems.
What is Schuster to do?
He needs to do something or he can look forward to a pay cut and a massive loss of prestige after he is shown the door at this proud club.
He has problems to deal with that are probably seeming to be quite overwhelming in the face of the schedule that is in front of him and his side.
It is now that he has the chance to prove if he is worthy of his pay packet and the job that he is currently in.
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