One match-day before El Clasico, Real Madrid fall apart in Sevilla. Here are six quick points.
- The Sanchez Pizjuan is one of THE most hostile places to play in Spain - particularly if you're Real Madrid. So, the fact that the stadium was relatively quiet for nearly the entire first half is a huge testament to Real's success of controlling the tempo.
However, this obviously took a turn for the worse after Immobile - who was completely unmarked at the far post after Nacho collapsed towards the ball - scored from the corner. Sevilla then took the momentum and ran with it - applying constant pressure for the next 25 minutes until Banega grabbed Sevilla's second.
And, it kept getting worse for Real.
- Varane and Pepe were a step slow today. More specifically, their reaction time was a second or two late defensively. Pepe didn't even bother contesting Llorente's header for Sevilla's third goal, and Konoplyanka gave Varane all kinds of problems - turning him inside and out.
On Sevilla's second goal, Banega was just more hungry to get to the ball than Varane.
After Llorente's goal, Real Madrid's body language was clear - it was one of submission and acceptance of defeat. Plain and simple, Sevilla were more hungry.
- James' introduction may have come.... 63 minutes too late. Judging by the fact that James' indicated before the match that he's been fit for two weeks, he should have been in the match from the start. Immediately after he came on to the pitch, he created three chances. Isco is good, but he's not the dissective maestro that James is.
- The return of Bale was really encouraging as he adds a dimension to the offense that otherwise doesn't exist with Lucas Vasquez, Jese, or even Isco. What Bale is known for is his sheer - and freakish - power and athletic ability, but I was also impressed with his footwork and technique in getting out of tight spaces.
These observations, of course, are based on his first half performance mostly, as in the second, the whole team fell apart.
- You could feel Marcelo's absence in attack. Kroos and Modric refuse to knock the ball to the left flank no matter how many runs Nacho makes.
- It could be argued that there's enough of a sample size now to indicate Ronaldo is problematic to the team's flow and energy. I thought he was poor throughout the game, but his worst moment was when he took a shot in the second half at the top of the box, when a simple pass to Modric would have probably resulted in a goal.