Maybe it’s always been like this – Cristiano Ronaldo, and 10 more Real Madrid players just waiting for something to happen. Even in a relatively good performance from Los Blancos, the overall feeling left after the match is that without the Portuguese star, there’s really nothing special on a team that’s move valuable than any other in the world.
A 2-1 win over Juventus isn’t something to complain about. Real Madrid, even at 11 vs 11, were the dominant side, the better side. Asier Illarramendi is improving with every match he plays, learning on how not to be just a defensive midfielder, but a pace setter and a clever ball distributor, maybe stepping into Xabi Alonso’s shoes one day, although he doesn’t seem to have that long range passing ability Real Madrid miss.
But Carlo Ancelotti lost control of his team for the final 30 minutes. Instead of finishing the game off against 10 Juventus players in an unclear formation, they got arrogant and complacent. Cristiano Ronaldo was shifted to the middle, Alvaro Morata played on the left, Gareth Bale disappeared on the right. With so many players out of position, no wonder it looked like the team was simply passing time in hope for the final whistle to finally come.
Heading to the Clasico, Real Madrid find themselves once again relying on one player a bit too much. Sure, there’s Angel di Maria, who has been Ronaldo’s sidekick of sorts this season and set up the first goal with a fantastic chip into the box. But beyond that? Isco has stopped playing, or playing well, for the last month, as Real Madrid’s attacking and ball movement problems become too apparent once again.
Some of that is fixed by giving Marcelo more time with the ball, but as always, it creates huge problems on the defensive side, something a team like Barcelona have the tools to take advantage of, unlike the Juventus side, in some sort of crisis at the moment, we’re seeing this season.
It’s not all about praise to Ronaldo. Despite reaching 57 champions league goals, and despite making it to 7 goals in three matches this season, it’s quite disturbing to see him dive so easily by barely being brushed by Giorgio Chiellini’s arm. Sure, a player does what he can to give himself and his team an advantage, and Ronaldo played that card perfectly. For some weird reason, we expect a little bit more than pure opportunism from the best players in the world.
Iker Casillas had his cameo appearance, which is a two-week thing before going into winter hibernation until the Champions League resumes. If anyone thinks that getting the chance to play 12 times in one season is keeping him satisfied or happy, they better think again. This isn’t his team anymore, for better and for worse. It’s not that it’s wrong to bench him if the other keeper is playing better, but Casillas is someone who is good enough to still start on most teams in Europe, and it’s a shame that he’s been wasted for almost an entire season instead of trying to find respect and minutes somewhere else.