Too Much Freedom Can Be a Bad Thing
When it comes to offensive football, it definitely makes things harder for the opposing defense if your attackers are roaming into pockets of space and interchanging positions. It makes the players on the ball harder to mark and it can draw man-marking assignments all over the place. But, if you allow too much freedom to the men up front, things can quickly unravel.
Real Madrid saw both the benefits and drawbacks of unrestrained freedom. In the opening couple of salvos, Los Blancos looked sharp and dangerous. Manchester City couldn’t keep a track of Isco and Bale’s movement, as the two kept moving from flank to flank and swapping positions. When coupled with the quick passing out from the back, Real were able to burst up the pitch in rapid fashion. It was lovely one-touch-two-touch football, but it wasn’t sustainable.
As Manchester City lowered the tempo of the game, Madrid lost themselves. The fluidity that had seemed purposeful now looked random, as players floated from space to space without a regard for how they positioned themselves in relation to the team. As a result, passing options disappeared and Madrid’s attacking chances dried up.
Isco’s Positional Issues Still Haven’t Been Solved
The prime culprit was Isco. For the majority of the game, he drifted far too deep to receive the ball and pushed out wide too often. This left a big gap between Real’s midfield and attack, forcing Real into long balls down the flanks and over the top of City’s defense. While this can usually be excused with the usual, “it’s pre-season blah blah blah,” this was a recurring theme with Isco last season. It didn’t crop up every game, but it did come up enough to make it a legitimate problem. Real’s first half against Juventus in the Champions League was marred by this type of positioning from Isco. It’s telling that Real’s performance improved once Isco became more disciplined with his movement and looked to occupy space higher up the pitch. Pre-season is a time to fix issues like this, and it’s a bit worrying that Zidane hasn’t done so.
Óscar Rodríguez Can Strike the Ball - Damn!
We already knew that Óscar was a god from free-kicks, but now we know that his otherworldly ability to strike the ball extends to open play as well.
Oscar scores the only goal from Real Madrid in this friendly. But still a beauty of a goal! pic.twitter.com/9Pu70WzA2v— José Villacreses (@j_villacreses) July 27, 2017
Danilo Looked... Good (Insert Massive Asterisk with “But it’s Pre-season”)
It was nice to see a former player take on an unusual inverted wing-back role and look so comfortable there. His overlapping runs were well-timed, he showed for the ball often, cut inside when needed, and looked to take initiative in the game. Of course, he also looked that way last pre-season when he scored a belter vs. Bayern... but maybe, just maybe, Pep can get the best out of him.
Chillax Fam, it’s Pre-season
The priority is fitness, trying new tactics, fitness, tweaking game plans, fitness, having fun, fitness, and building team cohesion. And fitness. Yes, it’s a tad worrying that some tactical issues still haven’t been ironed out, but it’s pre-season. Chill out.
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