Real Madrid has always been thought of as a great attacking team: for generations, Madrid's philosophy was something along the lines of "well, sure, they'll score three, but we'll score five." The legend of los blancos was cemented during the golden age of Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, when the side famously blazed over opposing defenses en route to magnificent six or seven-goal performances.
Los merengues have never, despite all their attacking chops, been thought of as a possession side. Possession football, as has been noted by various coaches and players, is actually "too boring" for Real Madrid's fans (according to Getafe president Angel Torres, among others who've said similar things). Madrid has always been--and remains now--a vertical, fast-paced offense that favors the quick strike over the long, 13-touch goal.
So you might be a bit shocked to hear that Real Madrid are second in all of the "big three" European leagues--England's EPL, Spain's la Liga, and Italy's Serie A--in average possession, and are third if you include Germany and France (the other two major leagues). [Note: I'm not emphasizing this for two reasons: 1) the team that beats Madrid, Bayern Munich, is the only team in their league to average more than 53% possession and 2) traditionally (if maybe not currently) Spain, Italy and England are much stronger leagues than Germany and France.]
This may not come as a total shock to some--especially because I literally just wrote an article about interesting Real Madrid stats--but it's something that I do think merits some discussion.As I said in my previous article on this subject, the possession statistics for this season are absolutely remarkable. Not only are Real Madrid second only to Barcelona among the best leagues, they're keeping the ball better than they have in three years! And that's including under the supposedly more offensive Manuel Pellegrini!
Part of this post, then, is to defend Mourinho's offensive chops. We all know Madrid are furious goal-scorers (the 70 goals says it all)...but did we know they were this good at passing and retaining possession? As you can tell, I certainly didn't.
And, of course, all the usual caveats apply: Spain is a weaker league than England, Spanish sides tend to park the bus when facing Real Madrid and Barcelona (thus creating gaudy possession stats for the "big two"), etc. All of that is true. But the facts still remain.
I'm curious, MM'ers: what do you think? Does this change your opinion of Mourinho? Is this any indicator at all of Madrid's offensive strength? Or am I being a bit disingenuous?