Zidane Got His Tactics Wrong In the 1st Half
Real Madrid's initial line-up going into this match looked extremely solid.
Here's our starting XI to face @FCBayernEN in our third friendly match of the pre-season! ✅#RMTour #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/x2mALdcxnF— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 3, 2016
An attack of Morata, Lucas Vázquez, and James Rodríguez, with a midfield of Isco, Modric, and Casemiro, looked like an adequate amount of firepower to deal with an opposition also missing several 1st team starters. However, Zidane did not arrange his attack in an optimal way, choosing to play James Rodríguez in the center (in presumably a false nine role), Lucas on the right, and Morata on the left-wing. It is understandable if Zidane did not feel like James would do well on the left-wing, with the Colombian's lack of pace possibly hampering his ability to get to the byline and cross, but this could have been solved by simply positioning Lucas on the left and James on the right (a position that the World Cup star is extremely comfortable with). Lucas might have been less effective when pushed off his regular flank, but his attributes made him a better candidate to deal with a new position. His pace, dribbling, and work-rate would've still allowed him to trouble the Bayern defense and provide dangerous crosses. Consequently, James would have been in a more comfortable position and Morata would've played in his best position.
The result of Zidane's mis-judgement was a lopsided formation that often lacked width on the left-flank and lacked a clear spearhead. While Morata is familiar with his duties on the left-wing, it is clear that he will naturally tend to drift centrally when the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch. This gravitation towards the ball is just the natural inclination of all strikers and thus cannot really be blamed on Morata, but it did hurt Madrid's ability to stretch the pitch and make a switch ball more viable.
Even more detrimental to Real Madrid's play was James' performance in the false nine role. With previous outings having displayed how unsuitable James is in that position (this is in addition to the fact that James clearly lacks the basic attributes to excel there), it was no surprise to see James looking confused and out of his depth. With Morata pushing to the center of the pitch when Los Blancos had the ball on the right side of the pitch, James felt pressured to move to the right in order to not to clog the center. It was an unselfish move, but with Morata constantly trying to re-correct his movements, it often looked like Real Madrid were playing with two right-wingers and an oddly positioned striker.
Thus, it was no surprise that Real Madrid created next to nothing in the first half vs. Bayern Munich. The outlets for possession didn't exist, and with Isco and Marcelo desperately trying to provide width to a lopsided team, Real Madrid's power in midfield diminished.
Thankfully Zidane realized the problem and brought on Asensio for James, immediately giving Real a clear attacking structure. Build-up immediately improved as width was restored and a natural spearhead appeared in front of the Real Madrid attack.
Bayern Munich's Counterpress Troubled Real Madrid
It is hard to gauge just how much trouble an opposition counterpress will cause Real Madrid based off of only this performance (what with none of the BBC present, no Kroos, and a Modric still finding his fitness), but it is clear that employing such aggressive methods will have a degree of effectiveness. In this pre-season friendly, Ancelotti's 30-minute counterpress completely scattered Real Madrid's midfield and dominated the opening phase of the game. They targeted Casemiro in particular, forcing Zidane to periodically switch the Brazilian with Modric so that Real Madrid's build-up could be better preserved.
This worked to an extent, allowing Casemiro to continue to make some excellent tackles while avoiding a lot of Bayern's pressure, but this led to defensive structural imbalances (With Casemiro pushed into an LCM or RCM role, if Madrid lost the ball their best ball-winner was not in a position to cut out Bayern's attack, thus allowing the Bavarians an easier route onto goal) and hurt Real Madrid's offensive effectiveness (with Modric stuck as a DM his passing influence higher up the pitch was missing)
For some, this might be a reaffirmation that Casemiro has his limits, but to others they will validly point to the fact that this is only a pre-season game. Nevertheless, the debate around the Brazilian anchor is sure to continue with no end in sight.
Are Real Madrid Ready For the UEFA Super Cup?
Again, it's only a pre-season friendly, but tactics and team coherence aside, the lethargy and lack of fitness in this team was all too palpable against Bayern Munich. Only Marcelo and Isco really looked up to the rigors of the game, with Modric, Ramos, and James looking looking anything but sharp (this is expected, since this is their first game in pre-season and will obviously be lacking fitness). If you take those three out of the side against Sevilla because they still aren't ready, you are forced to plug in maybe Kovacic, Nacho, and Asensio, which isn't a disaster by any means, but it isn't a starting eleven that buoys you with confidence either. With the Super Cup only six days away, it isn't wrong to say that this official match has arrived to early for Real Madrid - a team still trying to find it's feet without many of it's 1st team stalwarts.
Bits & Pieces
Morata did well in a tough environment. Aside from being kicked by Bayern from the first whistle to the last, he managed to produce some admirable hold-up play and off-the-ball runs when playing on the left-wing. When played as a striker he often found the right attacking positions, but his finishing was too rusty.
Danilo scored a tremendous solo goal that should fill him with confidence for the upcoming season. That run was in stark contrast to his timid self in the opening games of his Real Madrid career last season. Get ready for an epic comeback by the Brazilian!
Mateo Kovacic looked sharp when taking the pitch; he zipped about like a dynamo and stitched passes together with ease. I can only repeat this so many times, if Zidane gives him a proper shot he's got a real talent on his hands.
Mariano should ditch football and become a professional wrestler instead.
I swear someone started chopping onions when Marcelo went up to Ancelotti and greeted him
GIF: Marcelo greeting Carlo Ancelotti. Love this. pic.twitter.com/OLaxJsDgUN— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) August 4, 2016