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Takeaways from Real Madrid's Draw to Valencia

Things to consider moving forward.

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1. Gareth Bale is underutilized: Bale's agent addressed the media Saturday claiming "Real have to work with Gareth and pass the ball to him more. Give him more of the ball and let him show everybody what he's good at. He's going to be the best player at Real Madrid when his teammates work with him and help him." While Gareth's agent is advocating for his client, he makes a valid point. Bale demonstrated his firepower in the first half with a beautiful free kick that ricocheted off the crossbar and a driving stinger that forced a wonder save from Diego Alves. While his second half was less prolific, Bale assisted Isco on the equalizer. The Welsh Wizard has endured more criticism than any other player bar Casillas this season, but the team's default is to look for Cristiano first, Bale second with Gareth sometimes notching an alarmingly low number of touches per game (see: Juventus first leg). While Gareth can improve his positioning to receive passes in open spaces and devise more creative take-ons in tight spaces, his manager and teammates also carry some of the blame for not setting up Bale to shoot more.

2. Real Madrid's midfield trio needs support: what do you get when you play three natural attacking midfielders as center midfielders? Think about that one. We can blame Ancelotti or blame Perez, but Toni Kroos and James are not capable of screening the defense and putting in a gritty shift in the vein of Makelele and Gattuso. And frankly, it's not all their fault. While Isco has demonstrated a willingness to defend and adapt to the midfield role, Carlo's insistence on playing superstars out of position to ensure the top names get on the pitch has hurt the team against quality sides that press and harass Los Blancos. Without Luka Modric in the middle to diffuse pressure and play through the middle, Kroos and company have been overrun against elite competition, leaving the back line vulnerable to counterattacking onslaughts as we saw in Valencia's opening goal. Real Madrid need to invest in a proper defensive midfielder this summer and devise a system where Isco, James, Kroos and Modric still enjoy plentiful minutes over the course of the season without compromising defensive solidity.

3. "Lady Luck" spoiled Madrid's positive vibes: Real Madrid looked the better team out of the gate yesterday, but their effort was not to be rewarded. Sometimes things don't go your way for inexplicable reasons, and that's exactly what Real Madrid experienced yesterday. Bale hit the post, Ronaldo hit the post, Chicharito hit the post, Bale had an unstoppable shot saved, Ronaldo had a penalty kick get the drift. Los Blancos could've scored five goals in the first 45 minutes were it not for the wonders of physics. Let's hope "Lady Luck" smiles more favorably on the reigning European champs this Wednesday against Juventus.

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