Huesca 0 - 1 to Real Madrid (Gareth Bale). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, and post-game podcast.
A narrow away win against the last-placed team in La Liga — and that’s a relief, given Real Madrid didn’t look comfortable in this match against Huesca.
Like Mendilibar’s Eibar, Huesca decided to disperse their defensive block and play a bit higher up the pitch. And like Eibar, their weakness was always going to be defending in transition if Real Madrid could pass the initial press. Solari’s men couldn’t exploit that space enough in Ipurua, and even though they did have opportunities today, the passing (in particular from Benzema and Bale) during attacks wasn’t good enough to create consistent opportunities.
Bale was the most active offensive threat, but no one else on the team had a shot on goal other than the Welshman, who scored Real Madrid’s lone goal after an Odriozola cross (and some nice work from Managing Madrid’s son, Marcos Llorente, in midfield):
Real Madrid looked out of ideas against Huesca offensively — this is an area Solari seriously needs to find solutions on, when opposing teams press high rather than staying in a low block — and looked nearly just as inept defensively at times. They dodged bullets, to be sure. Huesca couldn’t capitalize on Real Madrid’s far-post defending on crosses thrice, and nine-times-out-of-10, Melero’s header in the second half is a goal conceded.
(Thibaut Courtois made a couple really crucial saves, and continues to look good.)
Huesca also helped Real Madrid, in ways. Their finishing from good positions let them down, and Huesca’s coach, Francisco, took off their best player David Ferreiro in the 75th minute. Ferreiro, up until that point, had done tremendous defensive work on the flank (particularly keeping Lucas Vazquez in check) and was good in tight positions — finding cutting runs and getting off dangerous shots.
Real Madrid also suffered towards the end, as Huesca had surges of attack to close the game. From start to finish, this was a really disappointing performance. Pretty well everything — the defending, the attack, the build-up — was a mess. There were some nice moments offensively from Bale, brilliant saves by Courtois, and solid work from Marcos Llorente throughout — but it was also a game where you take the three points and run; and hopefully review film and fix the issues the team faces against schemes like this.
We’ll break this down in more detail in the coming hours.