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Racing Santander 0-0 Real Madrid: A Tactical Recap Of Madrid's Draw

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I took a day to think this over, and to review things--this one, as mentioned elsewhere on Managing Madrid, isn't a tactical error on Jose Mourinho's part, but more on the part of the players themselves, who often looked sluggish at times and completely out of tune the next. This could have to do to with the fact there were six (six changes!) to the starting XI from the Levante match over the weekend.

 

Starting XI Vs Levante Starting XI Vs Santander

 

# Name # Name

 

1 Iker Casillas 1 Iker Casillas

 

4 Sergio Ramos 17 Alvaro Arbeloa

 

3 Pepe 19 Raphael Varane

 

2 Ricardo Carvalho 2 Ricardo Carvalho

 

12 Marcelo 12 Marcelo

 

14 Xabi Alonso 14 Xabi Alonso

 

6 Sami Khedira 24 Lassana Diarra

 

22 Angel Di Maria 21 Jose Callejon

 

8 Kaka 10 Mesut Ozil

 

15 Fabio Coentrao 9 Karim Benzema

 

9 Karim Benzema 7 Cristiano Ronaldo

One thing that Mou mentioned at the outset of the season and during the transfer window is that while he's happy with the squad he has, they lack something they had last year: bench depth. It also didn't help that three of the first choice XI were unavailable to play. Though you could make a case that it was four, if you include Sergio Ramos, who did not start, but was available to come off the bench, Mou just never used him.

Real Madrid owned possession: iit wasn't even close 73-27 percent, and while los blancos were able to get 10 shots on goal, only two of those were actually on target. Most of Madrid's attack came from the left side of the pitch, which was supposed to exploit Racing Santanders horrible defense against the wing. But the play down the wing crossed over to the middle, where 60 percent of Real Madrid's shots were taken.

Santander did a semi-decent job and forced Madrid to take a lot of shots from outside the box. 

 

Shot Percentages

 

Outside The Box 49%

 

18 Yard Box 46%

 

6 Yard Box 6%

One thing that los blancos were able to do that they couldn't really do against Levante was snuff out the counter attack. Even with both fullbacks pushing up the pitch, Santander couldn't use that to their advantage. I think the the fullbacks pushing up the pitch was by design. Watching Chelsea v.s. Fulham yesterday in Carling Cup action, I noticed that the Chelsea fullbacks did the same thing, and as we know, Andre Villas-Boas worked for The Special One. 

Chelsea have the fullbacks that can track backwards and give the center backs a bit of help, such as John Terry since David Luiz can hold his own and is speedier than the Chelsea skipper. I still don't agree with Real Madrid using this tactic, however; the fullbacks get way too far up the pitch. I mean, Marcelo was inside the six yard box more than once. A bit too far up, don't you think?

Now, in the game thread, people were talking about how bad Xabi Alonso played, but Opta begs to differ. He was tied as the second best player on the pitch (his 7.3 rating tied with Ricardo Carvalho). So I'm going to bet that leaves you wondering who was the best player on the pitch: It was Alvaro Arbeloa with a 7.4 and man of the match honors as he had the highest rating between both clubs. Xabi touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch--152, in case you were curious, and that's taking into account both teams.

Things were as disjointed as they were, in part, because most of the changes to the line up were getting handed their first start of the season (4 of the 6). This was not because Mou wanted to get bench players more playing time, but rather because he had no other choice than to start a side that wasn't his first choice XI.

This weekend we're most likely going to see more of the same, as I don't expect Pepe or Coentrao to come back until we face Ajax in Champions League group play.

Final Thought: It's not the end of the world, and the bench players have to get adjusted to full game speed. We will see a lot of squad rotation in multiple competitions. That's just the nature of the game when fixture congestion is your only option, although not having a deep enough bench isn't all that helpful either.

Stats Source: WhoScored.com (powered by Opta).

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