clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Immediate Reaction: Malaga 1 - 2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s stars get some rest; and Zidane’s men pick up three points at La Rosaleda

Malaga v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid beat Malaga 1 - 2 away from home (Isco, Casemiro; Rolan). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.

It’s around this time of season where the stakes are lowered. We know who the champion is, who’s going down, and who’s going to the Champions League. You’re allowed, as fans, to mentally check out, one way or another. The only real exciting part of La Liga lies in its frenzied Europa League race.

It’s easy to get complacent, when little is at stake, so it’s important that Zidane rolls with some of the fringe players in matches like this. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Raphael Varane all got rest. In the last seven matches that Real Madrid have played without both Bale and Ronaldo, they’ve come away as winners (a statistic, which, Ray Hudson shot down pretty quickly. Poor Phil). Dani Ceballos and Borja Mayoral came off the bench; while both Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo played the full 90 (yes, I’m pretty annoyed that Marcos didn’t see time here, when there was really no need for Casemiro or Kovacic to play the entire match). The latter, Vallejo, was solid, per usual. He had some great defensive interventions and read the game well. Theo meanwhile, overcomplicated things at certain points — dribbling into players when a simple outlet pass would’ve sufficed, misplacing some routine passes, and taking a bad touch here and there.

Malaga, as woeful as they’ve been all season, have actually had respectable defensive performances in some bigger matches this season. It wasn’t a huge surprise that they forced Real Madrid to give away the ball a few times in the first half when Zidane’s men tried to build from the back. They contained as much as they could, but Real Madrid were always going to have chances. If not for a great save from Roberto on a Mateo Kovacic header, a point-blank miss from Lucas Vazquez after a nice offensive sequence between Isco and Benzema, and a few other chances sprinkled in, this could’ve been worse for Malaga.

There isn’t a huge amount to dissect from this game, given what was at stake. Malaga didn’t threaten much offensively. At the end of the first half, Casemiro gave the ball away deep (*drink), but Keylor covered up blushes. Isco scored a free-kick casually, before apologizing to his former team and getting applauded. In the second half, Casemiro intercepted a pass then bombed forward into the penalty box to take advantage of more Benzema-Isco wizardry:

A lot of Real Madrid’s play went through Kovacic, Isco, and Carvajal tonight, who were all efficient. with Kovacic and Isco funnelling position in the middle, they consistently looked to switch it to Real Madrid’s right-back (Lucas Vazquez often dropped deeper behind Carvajal), who would look to cross it or find an opening from the flank.

Again, there won’t be too much to break down from this one. It was routine. The defenders dealt well with everything, and Real Madrid controlled possession and found openings despite Malaga doing well contain Zidane’s men vertical outlets from the back in the first half. Malaga snuck a consolation goal with the last touch of the match — Rolan taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce.

Post-game podcast will be up tonight.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid