While Cristiano Ronaldo had one of his weaker and less influential matches for Real Madrid, the new young star of Spanish football, Isco, proved to be the important factor for a team going through plenty of changes, highlighting the overall weakness of more established players like Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil.
Real Madrid shouldn’t have come out as winners from their first league match of the season. Real Betis, especially in the first half, embarrassed the home side again and again by leaving Cedric in one on one situations again and again, one of the resulting in the opening goal through Jorge Molina.
Every cross spelled danger, as Sergio Ramos and Pepe (Varane wasn’t completely fit) found it very difficult to handle the very quick attack of Betis without using their hands and dirty tactics. Luckily for them, the referee wasn’t in the mood to feel the wrath of the home fans and leaned in a very clear direction with all of the 50-50 calls.
And still Carlo Ancelotti came away with the win, even though his team didn’t deserve it, and the lineup he used isn’t going to work out in all likelihood. Luka Modric, for the 20th or 3oth time, showed that he isn’t going to be Xabi Alonso, and putting him as the creative force in the defensive midfield spells a lot of offensive problems, especially when it comes to the speed of the build up and urgency in play, with the Croatian loving the ball between his legs, while Xabi Alonso does everything possible to get the ball moving forward as quickly as possible.
Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t feel comfortable in the new system, playing a bit closer to the middle, just behind Karim Benezema. It doesn’t give him the room to be dangerous as he normally is when coming from the left, while Isco and Mesut Ozil occupy the wings and cut to the middle when attacking, which seems to be a lot more fitting for Isco, who is a bit more accustomed to the hard work put in by a winger.
Ozil and Benzema were probably the weak links in the Real Madrid attack, even if the Frenchman ended up scoring a goal. He kept showing up offside, and almost every touch he had turned out to be the wrong decision. Ozil himself simply overlapped too much with Isco, and didn’t seem to handle the similar roles all too well.
Real Madrid will look better with Illarramendi and/or Xabi Alonso. Luka Modric wasn’t and isn’t good enough to be a consistent stalwart for this team, no matter how many managers and positions he switches. Cristiano Ronaldo? The goals will come, but for the time being, we’ll probably see weaker, more frustrating performances from him, as it’s been proven in the past that putting him in a limited role near the middle always hurts his ability to be a constant threat and influence the match as best he can.
Isco, on the other hand, seems like the kind of player that will be a hit for Real Madrid, no matter the position he’s put in.