Real Madrid Vs. Manchester United, UEFA Champions League 2013: Ramos, Benzema And Higuaín Need To Raise Level

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

It was a day in which every player was supposed to perform well in order for Real Madrid to have a good chance at the Old Trafford, and although the team played quite well, Ramos' very poor marking on Danny Welbeck and Real Madrid's strikers prevented los merengues from going to the Theatre of Dreams with a better result on aggregate.

Same old story. Real Madrid arguably deserved the win but a corner-kick from Manchester United was enough for Ferguson's team to put los blancos in trouble for the second leg. Varane's age made Real Madrid fans worry about containing Van Persie and Rooney, but the French man played brilliantly. It was Sergio Ramos the one that had trouble. He didn't only allow Welbeck to score, but he also tried to pass the ball with his chest while being the last man, and that cost Real Madrid another big scare. He seems uncomfortable on the pitch, and that's something this defense can't afford.

Jose Mourinho said in press conference that the team worked really hard to stop United from scoring off set-pieces, but he also explained that nothing can be done when one-on-one marks are lost. Ramos didn't even know where the ball was when Welbeck was in the air trying to score.

Given Varane's recent performances in big matches such as the last Clásico against FC Barcelona, Real Madrid should consider starting him on Ramos' spot. Some could argue that the Spanish defender should go back to the right-back position, but his careless play in that spot is something the team can't afford against elite teams. Arbeloa plays poorly offensively, but he's very realiable on defense and he always gets some important steals very high on the pitch because of his good pressure on the opposition's deffensive line.

Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema both were completely invisible. The team plays better with the French on the pitch, because he creates space for his teammates and is a good passer, but Real Madrid should have a better striker on the roster in order to make games easier. Higuaín has never been the same player since he had surgery on his back two years ago. He works well, but the Argentinian isn't much of a clinical finisher neither. At the end, the team depends on Cristiano Ronaldo too much. It wasn't enough even with Di María and Özil playing well, since both of them lack the ability to score.

Fabio Coentrao was one of the best Real Madrid players, but the team is surely missing Marcelo when attacking. Coentrao had two big chances saved brilliantly by De Gea, but he doesn't have Marcelo's skills to pass and dribble the ball.

Simply put, this game was similar to Real Madrid's season so far. The team does enough to win, but set-pieces and a lack of a clinical striker end up costing los blancos a well-deserved win.

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