Deportivo 1-2 Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned
Real Madrid entered El Riazor to face off with last-place Deportivo La Coruna in what would prove to be a thrilling encounter. After conceding early, Los Blancos needed a miraculous comeback to seal three points.
The first half gave fans an exciting showing from Deportivo as they took the lead from terrific offensive play. But the Turk's attack continued to make things very difficult for the Madrid defense.
In the second half, Jose Mourinho made a triple substitution in hopes of pulling back the rug for a victory. The move was successful and Los Blancos walked away 2-1 winners.
But the performance at El Riazor was not one that Madridistas will be proud of. Against the league's worst defense, a comeback should not have been necessary.
In this article we will take a look at six things we learned from Real Madrid's comeback.
Real Madrid Lacks a Killer Instinct Without Cristiano Ronaldo
While some were surprised to see Cristiano Ronaldo dropped for this match, the move made complete sense. But the entire world is now aware that there is no killer instinct without Ronaldo.
The Portuguese winger normally gives defenders the most trouble and his presence alone creates chances for his teammates. But without having to worry about Ronaldo, Deportivo locked down defensively.
Gonzalo Higuain looked slow, though most of the attacking play was being run through him. But Kaka and Di Maria also looked stuck when trying to create chances.
Other than Higuain, the only true scoring threat on the pitch was Jose Callejon. While the winger has been great for Real Madrid, he is not capable of carrying the bulk of the attack.
Normally, a rare offensive performance like this would make sense with Ronaldo on the bench. But against the league’s worst defense, the Real Madrid offense should have done much better.
After Ronaldo entered the competition, it was very visible that new life was breathed into the attack. The Madrid offense looked deadly and it immediately looked like goals were on the way.
To put it simply, Real Madrid is a completely different offensive team without Ronaldo. When the Portuguese star in on the pitch, Los Blancos boast arguably the strongest attack in the world, as he makes everyone around him better.
Deportivo Will Fight to Remain in La Liga
Though Deportivo boasts the worst defense in La Liga, the Turks have shown that relegation is not yet a guarantee. If the struggling club can continue with this form, they are sure to rise from the bottom of the table.
Deportivo showed that they can play very strong defense if they look to hit on the counter. In fact, the Turks have one of the strongest attacks in Spain.
Though it would take a very strong run to escape relegation, it is possible for Deportivo. After such a strong showing against the reigning champions, one could argue that they deserve to remain in the top flight.
With only a few months of football left, keep a close eye on Deportivo’s fight at the bottom of the table.
Pepe and Carvalho Are Missing a Step
Ricardo Carvalho used to be included in one of the best defensive duos of all time. After his move to Real Madrid he continued to be strong, but has since succumbed to aging.
Carvalho is still a very wise defender, but his pace and strength are not what they used to be. He has been used solely as a reserve in this Madrid squad, but that may soon end as well.
But it is the current state of Pepe that could have Madridistas worried.
The Portuguese defender recently returned from injury and it is clearly showing. Against Deportivo, Pepe was missing a step and his challenges were surprisingly very off.
It will be very interesting to see where Pepe stacks up in the Real Madrid squad going forward. Varane has arguably secured his place alongside Sergio Ramos, but fans should definitely expect Pepe to return to his best.
Luka Modric Is Not Xabi Alonso's Successor
Xabi Alonso is arguably the most important player in the Real Madrid squad. Though Luka Modric was brought in to eventually succeed the Spaniard, it is clear that Modric will not be the answer.
The Croatian midfielder continues to be disappointing since joining Real Madrid. He is a terrific creator in the middle of the pitch but not as strong when keeping possession or playing out of the back.
Once Alonso is no longer in the squad, Madrid will have to look for another player to fill his role.
But it is the defending of Modric that clearly takes him out of the running for successors to Xabi Alonso. Against Deportivo, Modric was very weak in his challenges and even poorer in his marking.
Jose Mourinho must now figure out what Modric’s role will be going forward. With Ozil being the first choice starter and Kaka showing signs of life, the Croatian may be the odd man out.
Deportivo Has One of the Best Attacking Duos in Spain
In a league dominated by just a few teams, Deportivo is making their case as one of the strongest attacking sides. With the likes of Riki and Pizzi in attack, defenders have a constant headache when facing the Turks.
The Deportivo duo has been on a tear this season, scoring 17 goals together. If this partnership continues to blossom, it could be the key to Deportivo remaining in the Primera Division.
But the biggest lesson learned from Deportivo’s loss at home is that this duo is one of the best in Spain. Riki and Pizzi are terrific in possession and work well together in getting past defenders. Between the two, goals are certainties.
Expect big things in the future from these two stars.
The Fight for Second Place Is Not over Yet
After trailing their rivals Atletico Madrid for the majority of the season, Real Madrid shows no signs of giving up on finishing second.
Los Blancos have been slowly making up points on Atletico, and recent form suggests that they will eventually catch their city rivals before the season ends. Against Deportivo, Real Madrid showed that they are willing to fight.
Though this Real Madrid side has been very shaky this season, they are not going to give up. The desperate substitution of three players by Jose Mourinho showed that they don’t want to settle for third place.
With one derby left and plenty of football still to play, the fight for second may be the most exciting battle in world football. Many have begun to count the Whites out in La Liga, but against Deportivo they have sent a statement that they aren’t going to roll over.
What did you take away from Real Madrid's comeback? Will they catch Atletico? Will Deportivo escape relegation? Don't forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre' Atkinson. Follow me on twitter for more discussions on Real Madrid, Deportivo and La Liga.