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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 0 - 1 Cadiz

Real Madrid’s defense melted, and their offense lacked ideas.

Real Madrid v Cadiz CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid 0 - 1 Cadiz (Lozano). Here’s our quick reaction upon the final whistle. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, post-game podcast, and plenty more.

On the back of an international break, where several Real Madrid players played heavy minutes, we expected some wholesale rotations as the team hosted (a very good and disciplined) newly promoted side in Cadiz. Pretty well every player who wasn’t called up to their national teams, bar Asensio and Militao (the latter only returned to full training late this week), started: Marcelo, Courtois, Nacho, Vazquez, Vinicius, Benzema, Isco. For the remaining positions in midfield, Zidane opted to start Modric and Kroos over Casemiro and Valverde, both of whom travelled extensively to South America and back.

(My hunch is that had Odegaard not gotten injured, he would’ve started this game over an exhausted Modric who went full throttle with Croatia in a box-to-box performance against France.)

The team struggled, heavily, in that first half. So much so that Zidane made an unprecedented four substitutions at half-time in an effort to salvage a 1 - 0 deficit, in a game where Cadiz were by far the sharper team.

Cadiz, who are well drilled, as Jose Perez explained so well here, looked comfortable without the ball. Nay, they thrived without it. Their defensive shape held compact, and their offense in transition was blitzing in the first frame. They could hit a quick ball to Lozano and create a break with one pass (almost akin to how teams exploited Real Madrid’s defensive setup in 2018). To make matters worse, neither Marcelo nor Nacho were on camera on any defensive sequence (and Nacho, reminiscent of Miguel Torres, also looked disinterested in any attempt at an attacking move). Without Casemiro and Fede Valverde, there wasn’t much coverage, and Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius were not providing cover on the wing either. Modric’s passing was poor; and Kroos was sluggish, which didn’t help. Isco, in a fluid role, played ahead of Modric and Kroos’s double-pivot.

On Cadiz’s goal, Sergio Ramos let Lozano slip goal-side (and this was far from the only time Cadiz threatened):

Real Madrid did not make up for it offensively, where they struggled to create anything meaningful. In the first half, their rare sources of offense came from Lucas Vazquez cutting in to shoot, or making a run into the half-space (which Cadiz didn’t worry about much), or Isco trying to squeeze himself into the channels (which again, Cadiz controlled comfortably).

At half-time, Zidane made four subs.

Ramos’s sub had to do with a knock, the other three were not injury related.

With the subs, the team’s defense stabilized in the second half, but the offense still couldn’t find a way through. Cadiz only cemented their low block even more, and Real Madrid’s offense was too stagnant when Kroos had the ball at the top of the box looking for someone to hit. In basketball we call that ball-watching.

Jovic had a goal ruled out for offside (of course), and Benzema hit the cross bar.

This was not fun. We’ll break it down (provide you with some therapy) a lot more on tonight’s post-game podcast.

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