After unsuccessfully running around Madrid in search of a bar to show the match (apparently it's hard to find a channel that has the right to Champions League matches on basic cable), we came back to our room and caught a stream. So admittedly, I missed the first 18 minutes of this match, and any of these notes will miss out on the opening frame. So, my apologies.
- This, in essence, could have just been considered a very intensive training match. In the first half, Malmo - apart from being a physical side - could not keep up with Real Madrid in any aspect of the game. Defensively, they were inept. Offensively, Real Madrid closed them down enough that they couldn't string more than two consecutive passes together, and they constantly gave the ball away in key areas. In the second half, Real Madrid - for whatever reason - became absolutely dreadful to watch. More on this in point three.
- Kovacic was a steal. What a transfer. When Modric went down due to injury last season, Kovacic was exactly the type of player Real Madrid was missing. Not only is his footballing IQ high, but his work ethic is exemplary. In one instance in the first half, Arbeloa was caught out of position, and Kovacic sprinted back to stop a counter attack. Great pass to Isco on the build up to Ronaldo's goal in the first half. My only criticism of him tonight was that he gave the ball away needlessly twice under no pressure whatsoever. Other than that, what he brings to the table is quite conducive.
- The offense is still painful to watch. The lack of transition between midfield in attack was apparent in the second half particularly. The link that connects the brains in midfield to the attack, and the flair that prevailed against Betis and Espanyol has gone missing in the absence of James and Bale. It's troubling that the offense relies so much on these players, but that's a reality the team is currently facing. This Real Madrid team, in this state, reminds me of Spain's World Cup run - grinding their way through on 1-0 results behind humdrum performances. Thank all the Gods in this Universe that this training match is finished, and we can move on to a more exciting match in the Calderon this weekend.
- A brief point: Lucas Vasquez is not Real Madrid quality. His decision-making and talent belongs to Malmo.