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Takeaway's from Real Madrid's victory away to Malmo

What did Los Blancos do right? And what do they need to improve upon heading into a crucial fixture against fierce rivals Atlético Madrid?

On the ball
On the ball
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

1. Real Madrid's attack was one dimensional

Malmo deserve credit for defending well for the majority of this match but we should also consider the uncreative way in which Real Madrid set out to attack the Swedish outfit. Despite Karim Benzema starting as the teams striker he was only able to muster one shot. Initially this statement may seem to be a criticism of Benzema but rather it is the rest of the team that deserve the criticism as they were not giving him the service he needs. One hundred percent of the teams shots on target were taken by Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst it eventually bore fruit in the shape of two goals for the record breaking legend it is something that better teams will pick up on and find easy to defend against. Atléti certainly will. This trend has continued stemming from Bale's early season injury. In previous seasons Ronaldo was always the true focal point of the teams attack however he had the perfect foil in Benzema to help draw defenders attention away. This season however Ronaldo is taking even more shots per game than ever. In fact he's averaging an incredible 8.88 shots per 90 minutes played in all competitions. This sort of prolific shooting from one single player is not necessarily what the team needs in order to improve. Rather I would suggest that, if anything, it will encourage opposing teams to man-mark and/or double up on the Portuguese star and that this in turn will increase the probability of Ronaldo's and, by direct consequence, Madrid's attacking threat being nullified. I'm not sure if focusing most of the service on Ronaldo is something Benítez has instructed the team to do or not, for it is more evident than ever before. It would be far more conducive for Los Blancos to distribute their final third passes evenly across the attack to ensure that they do not become predictable.

2. Casemiro can be an important player for Real Madrid

The Brazilian found it hard to get himself minutes in the white shirt of Madrid just a couple of seasons ago but after spending a successful season away at Porto he has developed and matured as a player and is now putting in the kind of performances in the defensive midfield that Madrid believed were potentially possible when they first signed him. Casemiro is not a flashy player but he does his job with an assuredness and composure that befits an experienced veteran in the heart of midfield. Against Malmo he complimented the technician Toni Kroos perfectly as he made a total of 11 defensive actions - including making more interceptions than any other player - which essentially stopped Malmo from registering any truly high level of threat. Furthermore, Casemiro is currently averaging either a tackle or an interception every 9 minutes played in La Liga this campaign. He is a player who not only reads the game superbly but also finds pockets of space and makes himself available for the pass whilst distributing excellently himself. Only his midfield partner Kroos completed more passes than him versus Malmo, both of them completing more than 100. Last season Madrid were rightly criticised for lacking balance due to being too defensively lightweight in midfield. Well, then rest assured that Casemiro can fill that vacancy. In reality, Kroos is not a player who should be counted on to provide crucial defensive protection in midfield for the back four as fantastic a player as he is. Therefore, given more time to continue to develop and grow it is not unreasonable to suggest that Casemiro could be Madrid's holding midfielder for years to come. Let us just hope that regularly including a player with his skill set isn't deemed to contradict the clubs attacking philosophy.

3. Madrid should be fresh and ready for Atlético Madrid

Manager Rafael Benítez rotated Luka Modric and Marcelo out of the starting eleven against Malmo and with Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos both set to return from injury Madrid should have a rested team full of fire ready to compete in the Derbi. Benítez has surprisingly not rotated as much as some had hoped - and feared - so far this season. I for one, believe that his rotation system has so far been executed rather well. It's early doors but none of the players have looked fatigued. This will certainly help the team against strong opposition like Atléti. I recall part of the reason Los Rojiblancos had so much success in last seasons humiliating 4-0 defeat at the Calderón was due to Toni Kroos looking incredibly burnt out after not being rested often enough by Carlo Ancelotti. It was only one of the reasons why Los Blancos performed so poorly that day but it played a big part for sure. It's also worth considering that Madrid did not perform at 100% percent against Malmo. They coasted for large stretches of the match, easily spreading the play and keeping possession with minimal effort. Therefore even the players who did play shouldn't be too worried about being tired for the being clash against their across-town rivals.

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