Real Madrid didn't set the world on fire in their official 2011/2012 debut in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, but they managed to pull out a sloppy 4-2 win, and consolidate their position atop la Liga after FC Barcelona drew 2-2 at Real Sociedad. Despite the imprecise play, José Mourinho will be happy to escape a tricky match with all three points, as Getafe stayed tied, or within a goal of Real Madrid for almost the entire match.
Karim Benzema (twice), Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty), and Gonzalo Higuaín, all scored for a Madrid team that demonstrated an uncanny ability to put the ball in the net even when they clearly weren't playing their best soccer. Fabio Coentrão missed several one-on-one's--including a ridiculously bad one-on-zero, after an incredible bicycle kick courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo bounced off the post and right him--and both Sergio Ramos and Ángel Di María also missed chances.
Madrid's first goal was truly a thing of beauty: Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, and Ángel Di María all touched the ball at the top of the area before the German playmaker--who the Spanish announcers have dubbed "el Mago," or "the Wizard"--threaded a beautifal ball back to Benzema, who blasted a perfectly placed shot in to the upper right hand corner. 1-0.
But Madrid seemed to go to sleep after the first goal, and Getafe clawed their way back into the match thanks to some strong play in midfield--and some extremely sloppy defending from los blancos. Miku hammered home a much-deserved equalizer in the 39th minute, and Madrid looked to be on the back foot.
Getafe won't be happy with match referee Clos Gómez, who awarded a highly dubious penalty to Real Madrid at the beginning of the second half--with the score 1-1, no less--after "Cata" Díaz half-tripped Cristiano Ronaldo outside of the area. It wasn't clear whether the action was a foul or not; what was clear was that Cristiano was six inches outside of the area.After the penalty, Real Madrid never gave up the lead. Within 10 minutes, Madrid scored again, this time after an absolutely sublime pass from Cristiano Ronaldo that flew behind the entire Getafe defense, in front of azulón keeper Moyá, and right to the feet of a sprinting Benzema. Unlike the penalty, this was a true work of art from the Portuguese superstar, who rightly celebrated as if he had scored himself.
But Getafe wouldn't roll over, and within five minutes, Miku made the score 3-2, after a series of shockingly bad defensive miscues by Real Madrid's out-of-sync defenders. No one could clear a bouncing ball in the area, and eventually a Getafe player snapped it up, dropped it back to Miku, who slotted it by Casillas.
After that, the match took on a much more back-and-forth character, with attacks coming quickly, furiously, and completely sloppily. It wasn't until José Mourinho decided to bring on Kaká for Di María, Higuaín for Özil, that Madrid managed to get a bit more comfortable on the ball. At the stroke of 90 minutes, Kaká played a brilliant ball through to "Pipita," who spun, and slotted a bouncing ball past Moyá. 4-2, and that was it.
Here are a couple of things to take away from the match:
- Real Madrid really know how to score. Even when things aren't really going their way, you can bet almost anything that this team will find a way to put a ball in the net.
- So goes Mesut Özil, so go Real Madrid. The skinny German playmaker is Madrid's offensive heart and soul--for better or for worse. Cristiano might score all the goals, but if Mesut isn't on, then Madrid's potent offense won't click in the same way. Today, Mesut didn't really have it--even though he did give Benzema a great pass on the first goal.
- Karim Benzema is just beginning to find his stride. I wouldn't be shocked if he and Cristiano Ronaldo split the goalscoring duties pretty much down the middle for Madrid this season--the Frenchman is a beast, and he's just beginning to learn that.