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Villarreal vs Real Madrid: Match Review (1-0)

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To use the tired cliché, it was a tale of two halves.

Setback.
Setback.
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Before we begin, let us not use hyperbole. On the balance of play Real Madrid deserved to get something from this match, probably all three points. However, it wasn't to be tonight. A lot of the blame does deserve to be put on the shoulders of the forwards as there were plenty of chances to score, especially in the second half. But first we must start with the first half. Los Blancos were not at the races and we saw a tired, lethargic Madrid plying their trade.

The fans who had travelled to see them play the Yellow Submarine were left short changed by the end of the first period though as Madrid offered little value and rather than being tired it's arguable that the players were simply being lazy as the effort in the second half proved they had the energy to compete if they wanted to. Former Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado opened the scoring early on in the 9th minute, taking advantage of a Luka Modric mistake and he pounced to register what would turn out to be the winning goal.

It was an immediate set-back for Los Blancos who had just ensured that they'd have to now overcome a deficit to win the match. Madrid did not react well to conceding as they continued to work in a lacklustre manner and conceded chance after chance to Villarreal who were implementing their strategy well in the midfield with more intensity than their opponents. By the time the break came Real were fortunate not to be trailing by more than one goal.

Manager Rafa Benítez must have said something at half-time to motivate his players as Madrid came out of the blocks with a newfound hunger and seemed determined to score the equaliser. Villarreal were immediately on the defensive and struggled to contain Madrid's surges. The passing was crisper and the movement off the ball was much improved and this contributed to Villarreal sinking deep into their own half.

Unfortunately, the strikers did not capitalise on the opportunities that were afforded them as they scuffed many of their shots and did not make clean contacts with the ball in dangerous positions. The decision making was also incorrect as the BBC oft opted to shoot individually instead of passing to each other when in better positions. It was frustrating to watch for sure.

It must be noted though that it was an impressive control of the tempo and flow when contrasted to the first half from Madrid. The players did genuinely try in the second half which is what we should expect in every minute of the game not just for half of it. Benzema after netting a hat-trick mid-week inexplicably missed a golden opportunity to score the equaliser when he put over from 6 yards out after some good work on the left hand side. It was a microcosm of the second half.

Los Blancos were the big bad wolf. They huffed and they puffed. But Villarreal were the house made of bricks. On another day Madrid would have scored 3 or 4 goals but instead they came out of the game with zero points and were not able to take advantage of the points Barcelona had dropped at home to Deportivo the previous day. We're approaching the half-way stage of the season and the gap to the leaders is already at 5 points. Time will tell if this team can turn their fortunes around. It wasn't a terrible defeat today, but nonetheless it was a disappointing one.