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Initial Reaction: Shakhtar 3 - 4 Real Madrid

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A collapse at the end nearly costs Real Madrid dearly...

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid bounce back from one of their most embarassing defeats in the Club's history to come up with a big three points in Ukraine. However, after leading 4-0, they conceded three late goals and suffered a tumultuous ending to the game. Here are 7 points to note. 

*Author's note. Nearly this entire reaction was written before the collapse at the end of the game, so please take this into consideration when reading it.
  1. Tonight's performance was good in the sense that it was an improvement over the debacle over the weekend. At half-time, I called it 'borderline good' on Twitter - something that Gabe Lezra seemed to disagree with. But Gabe was spot on. 'Borderline good' is pretty broad, and it simply means that Real Madrid were leading at the half. It was hardly a performance to get excited about. 

    The second half was obviously different, but it needs to be said, for the amount of space this fragile Shahktar team conceded, a more focused and confident Real Madrid team would have had a field day, and the collapse in the last ten minutes really left a sour taste to any 'bounce-back' feeling this match had. 

  2. The second goal was beautiful and a perfect reminder of what Real Madrid should be - a counter-attacking machine capable of punishing you for losing the ball. More of this please - on a consistent basis. 

  3. Rafa seemed to rectify the problem of the non-existent midfield during the clasico by packing the midfield (yes, too little too late for this, but nevertheless) with Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, and Isco who was acting as a transitory from midfield to attack. You could see in many instances the Spaniard was asked not to come back too deep so that he can better act as a link to Ronaldo and Bale. 

    Unfortunately, Isco was quite poor - tangling his feet with the ball during counter attacks and misplacing passes. Real Madrid need the Malaga version of Francisco Alcorcon.

  4. Kovacic is someone you can get really excited about. While Kroos is a tremendous player in his own right who is heading into his prime, you can't help but feel reassured by having Kovacic grow with the team for the next few years. What I love about Kovacic is that he's a more dynamic version of Kroos - one that can dribble out of tight spaces comfortably and make runs with the ball. 

  5. Varane's injury could make things really complicated at the back. He played a really solid game before he left the field, and while Nacho is a fine fourth choice CB, the depth at the back is completely depleted. With Ramos and Marcelo also injured, it means Danilo at left back, which in turn, means the next available substitute for any of the four positions is Alvaro Arbeloa. 

  6. A nice game from Bale and Cristiano, and overall their involvement was far more conducive than what we've seen from them in the past few games. Any time you play an open game against these two athletic freaks you will inevitably get punished. But Rafa knows that Shakhtar is not an everyday opponent, and he needs to find a way to get the best out of both them when space is limited. How he does this requires a separate article on its own.

  7. I want one of those Real Madrid blankets that James and Benzema were cuddling under.