The game against Almeria saw Real Madrid take an early lead with a goal from in-form Cristiano Ronaldo. In the 52 minute, CR7 was taken off due to injury and Carlo Ancelotti subbed in younger players off the bench. Their massive win of 5-0 was impressive and comfortable, especially when having 15 players return from international duty and a Champions League game during the midweek. Although a 5-0 score might show that all things are well without Ronaldo in the lineup, their were some troubling signs.
When the Portugal international was taken off just after halftime, goals were scored by Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata. They were all impressive goals against a team that has just been promoted and now currently fighting relegation. It was interesting, however, to watch how the tactics quickly changed when the team lost their star player.
Madrid’s usual plan is to get the ball to Cristiano and then let him do his work, which explains the 17 goals so far in the league this season. But when he left to the locker room with his muscle injury, Real midfielders used more of their options upfront and whoever was open received the ball totally confusing the Almeria defenders as to who they should cover. Xabi Alonso, Casemiro and Isco were brilliant in possession and passing. The three in front of them, not so much.
Jese came in for Ronaldo and did his usual fancy dribbling that would lead to a crack in the opposition’s defense while Morata was looking for the ball in dangerous areas. The peculiar thing is that both these players weren’t too keen on passing at all, much less to each other. The score should have been 10-0 considering the number clear chances that Real had in the last 15 minutes. Both players could have easily passed to each other and racked up goals, but their selfish play failed to bear fruit.
Also included in this conversation is Bale who also was looking to increase his own personal goal tally, but failed to be generous enough to pass to an open teammate. A likely hypothesis for this behavior is that both Jese and Morata are looking for more opportunities in the starting roster while Bale needs to prove his £85 million price tag.
For any Real fans, this is concerning and will hopefully not be a recurring trend. Currently in third place, the team from the capital need to focus on teamwork and goals instead of individual statistics.