Carletto and the boys in white came into the game against Cordoba after five days of rest, but seemed to be rather lackadaisical in their approach to the game. Another early goal conceded in the first 180 seconds of the game again caused Los Blancos grief as they had to reevaluate their entire gameplan. Let's take a look at how the game played out tactically.
Ancelotti sent out a 4-3-3, with Varane stepping in for the injured Pepe, and Khedira being inserted into the midfield to replace the injured Isco. Khedira has not featured extensively for Madrid thus far in the season, and his rust was apparent. It was clear that Cordoba was expected to be a cagey side, however, and Khedira's defensive presence would perhaps have been favored even had Isco been available.
After the hastily conceded penalty, the expectation was a game similar to that as against Atleti in the Copa. Heavy amounts of Madrid pressure requiring expert discipline from Cordoba's backline. Interestingly enough, however, Cordoba elected to play a high line, eagerly seeking to improve their advantage. Bebe was magisterial in his offensive movement, both on and off the ball. Despite plenty of corners, Real found themselves again and again having to win the ball back as Cordoba pressed through onto goal.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, though, and Big Benz, following a wonderful flick on by Gareth Bale, was finally able to punish Cordoba for the number of corners they were conceding in the 28th minute. The first half played out in similar fashion; Cordoba was sprinting all over the field in an attempt to cause Real grief, and Los Blancos were not able to be anything but impotent in front of goal.
One of the biggest problem Madrid was having was with its shape. Ronaldo was being double teamed on the left wing, rendering him obsolete, and James was unable in Isco's absence to provide the requisite link between Kroos and Khedira in the midfield and the BBC up front. As such, Los Blancos were unable to crack through Cordoba's high line and relentless pressing. The shots being taken were from distance, and the resulting corners, apart from the one on which Benzema scored, were not being taken efficaciously.
I won't dwell here on the red card received by Cristiano. It was well deserved. I will note though that it was indeed the man-marking in the box area that resulted in Gareth Bale's free kick, the inarguable penalty call, and thusly the three points. Had Cordoba been less, shall we say enthusiastic, about their defending, then perhaps Gareth wouldn't have been chopped down just outside the box, and perhaps Cartabia doesn't feel the need to stick his hand over his head.
Teams coming into games against Real Madrid are well aware of the attacking prowess that they are going to face, but as teams which have been successful against us will note, it is better to be aggressive and push forward rather than sit back and try to absorb the pressure. Three hundred million dollars worth of forwards will punish you if you do that. Cordoba came into this game knowing that the only way to win a fight is to come out swinging, and swing they did. Had they perhaps swung a little less, we would be looking at a completely different iteration of the league table this morning.