As Real Madrid trudge through whatever is left of this forgettable season, they’re met with uninspiring humdrums — some of which are arguably no more exciting than a typical pre-season game. Tonight’s match against Getafe, against a team fighting for a Champions League place, was uninspiring and uneventful.
To be sure, that’s just how Getafe manager Jose Bordalas likes it. Getafe have conceded just 29 goals this season — second best to Atletico Madrid’s 23. Their xGA of 36.65 is also elite, with only Atletico’s being lower. And while Bordalas’s men didn’t threaten much offensively — Casemiro had some important interventions, and both Sergio Reguilon and Dani Carvajal defended the flanks really well) — they didn’t give much room to Zidane’s men the other way.
Real’s midfield trio — Casemiro, Isco, Valverde — were pinned in their own half. Any attack that arose were through rare over-the-top passes to an isolated Bale (Isco did find him with a brilliant ball in the first half, but it ultimately only led to a Benzema shot at Soria); Brahim dropping deep to act as a ball-carrier; or Casemiro sprinting into a box to meet a cross that never arrived after he dispossessed a Getafe player (classic Casemiro / Zidane combo).
While fans were disappointed not to see Dani Ceballos or Marcos Llorente in the match-day squad (or Vallejo in the starting line-up, for that matter), there was one certain Brahim Diaz to keep their eye on.
Brahim was one of Real Madrid’s most active players, and was the most dangerous attacker throughout. What was most intriguing about him, apart from his defensive effort to help Carvajal against Oliveira and Cabrera, was his constant desire to look vertically. Like Martin Odegaard this season, Diaz looks to see what the forward options are first to see if he can catch the defensive line napping. Sometimes it’s forced. Three times he looked to play a vertical pass or get out of a tight space and gave the ball away after overcomplicating the play. That’s part of the rawness that comes with his age and eagerness. But other times, Brahim was incisive — he linked well with Dani Carvajal offensively, had some gorgeous touches in tight spaces to free himself, and played with a certain offensive swagger that exuded confidence.
Real Madrid didn’t get much offensive production outside of Diaz. Benzema’s passing in transition was off the mark, and Bale only had a couple sequences that created danger from the left — one of which led to an overhit cross after he dribbled past a couple players. In addition to the lack of help from Brahim, he had virtually no attacking support from the midfield trio, who didn’t get into good positions between the lines, and were virtually operating on the same horizontal sphere without penetrating central channels.
We’ll break this down more in the coming hours.