Even though Carlo Ancelotti made some terrible decisions during and before the match, the weak performance from Isco is another big reason as to why Cristiano Ronaldo was left too alone and pretty much helpless against an excellent defense as Real Madrid dropped more crucial points in the most difficult title race in Europe.
Being five points behind Barcelona this early in the season is not a disaster, but it’s setting up to be one. Carlo Ancelotti might prefer blaming his players for not giving a good enough performance, but the truth is that his tactics didn’t really help. Playing at home with two defensive midfielders signaled to Atletico Madrid that Real Madrid are finally afraid of them, and it showed from the first minute who is the more confident side.
Diego Costa is a dirty player – takes cheap shots at others while feigning injuries and diving at every opportunity. It’s quite incredible to see him & Pepe side by side, with the level of violence and bad acting helping them feed off each other while enraging the crowd and needlessly heating up the encounter.
But Costa is also a gifted goalscorer, on par with Lionel Messi so far this season for the La Liga’s top scorer, and that talent was just about enough to give Los Colchoneros the 1-0 win, their first in 14 years against Real Madrid in the league.
The problems on the richer side of the derby have been clear since this season kicked off. With the selling of Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid completely depend on the ability of Isco to bring the ball up field, especially if Luka Modric isn’t playing and Xabi Alonso is still out with an injury. Atletico had no problem using two players on him at times because both Sami Khedira and Asier Illarramendi made no intention of joining the attack in the first half, helping Atletico deny Real Madrid the chance to play well or create any chances.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s ability doesn’t have to do with the flow of his team, but there’s a point from which he’s stuck. Against quality teams, without his teammates stepping up, Ronaldo is lost and frustrated. He kept running into a wall of two and three players, never really finding himself in the box. He had to take shots from around 25-30 meters out, never with a clear path at goal, and quite prone to mistakes out of frustration.
Atletico allowed Real Madrid to get back in the game; it wasn’t one of Ancelotti’s changes, bringing in Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, both completely ineffective like the players they replaced. Alvaro Morata provided Real’s best chance of the match with a flying overhead kick, but that was probably the only time Courtois actually stretched himself to make Real Madrid feel like they’re dangerous.
Plenty of problems for Real Madrid heading into their Champions League match. Their defense can’t handle set pieces, as Pepe and Sergio Ramos continue to make mistakes and leave Diego Lopez completely exposed. Their midfield can’t work without Modric in it, and Isco can’t be the only one with any sort of creative ideas, as Angle Di Maria was completely taken out of the match, and Gareth Bale has no business playing on the right wing.
Worst of all is Karim Benzema, who doesn’t even seem to be trying. His place in the lineup is seemingly assured, but at some point, Carlo Ancelotti will figure out that using Alvaro Morata in the lineup might be the one thing that galvanizes this team back into the title race before it’s too late. Crossing your fingers and hoping Ronaldo does something doesn’t require such an accomplished manager on the sidelines.