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Five takeaways from Real Madrid’s 0-0 draw against Sporting Gijón

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Los Blancos did not manage to break Sporting’s tight defence and lost their first couple of points in the season.

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

  1. Benítez blamed the draw on his players’ lack of accuracy, and he is right. It was not only the little precision on the final pass what prevented Real Madrid from scoring, but also its bad luck in front of Sporting’s goal. Los Blancos managed to shoot 25 times throughout the game, and Pichu Cuéllar was outstanding to save the seven balls that went on goal. We could argue that this is just a statistical outlier and Real Madrid would win most games with this amount of occasions, but the truth is that this is not the first time that Los Blancos’s punch has been less powerful than expected.

  2. On the bright side, Real Madrid’s defensive system looked good. Benítez’s main concern throughout the pre-season has been to build a robust team that concedes very few occasions, and this is what we saw last night. All players were focused in pressing to make it hard for Sporting to build their attacks and, when such a pressure was avoided, did not hesitate to retreat and form a compact shell in front of their box. We can guess that most teams will have a really hard time to score against Los Blancos.

  3. Marcelo needs to learn to watch his back more carefully. One has to weigh in several factors when choosing a lineup, and Real Madrid’s #12 is such an extraordinary player that his flaws are quite far from matching his strengths, but he was a defensive liability last night. The only two occasions that Sporting had last night were quite similar: Sporting’s left winger crossed a ball and a man coming from the right, that should have been covered by Marcelo, headed it towards Real Madrid’s goal. Marcelo is not going to improve his aerial play right now as he has neither the height nor the corpulence to do so, but he can make his positioning better to avoid this type of occasions.

  4. The substitutions did not make a true impact on the game. James and Kovacic entered the field in the second half and had a good performance, but they did not manage to launch the revolution that Los Blancos needed to get a victory out of El Molinón. We would normally have had Jesé on the bench to get this effect, but Benítez could still have found a more offensive option for the final minutes, like taking out Ramos or Varane or even sending one of them to Sporting’s box à la Piqué, to keep Sporting’s centerbacks busy and leave more space for Ronaldo, Bale and company.

  5. We have reasons to be positive. It is true that Los Blancos lost two points against a rival that is, at least a priori, quite weak, but they played far better than in their last pre-season games and left a more than convincing performance. If the lads keep working like this, the goals and the victories will arrive.