Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo & Perfect Defending

The league table doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to the Madrid derby. Real Madrid are a much better team than their city rivals, showing that with a perfectly executed game plan that denied any kind of effort at Iker Casillas, while Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t need too many touches to put the game beyond reach.

That’s all it takes. It just goes to show what kind of football Real Madrid can produce under Jose Mourinho, when all the heads are focused and disciplined. Atletico Madrid had four attempts at Iker Casillas, none of them really memorable except for a slight touch by Falcao early in the match, which could have turned everything around. Atletico were the more confident side, until Cristiano Ronaldo hit a perfect free kick to shut it down. That’s all it takes, when you have such a player in your lineup.

There was not much of attacking flair from Real Madrid, especially in the first half. An aggressive match, but that early Ronaldo goal allowed Xabi Alonso to focus on defense and sweeping up any chance of Atletico to create something with their stagnant midfield. Pepe and Sergio Ramos avoided all the provocation attempts by a disgusting Diego Costa, who somehow finished the match without even getting booked.

And that was at the basis of Real’s impressive performance: Tactical discipline, with and without the ball. Angel di Maria was busy doing a lot of defensive work instead of his usual fancy dribbles up and down the wing, without his ventures to the middle. There was no straying from the plans. Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil looked like they were allowed to venture wherever the wanted to. No wonder they were the two to score, with Ronaldo also providing the assist to the German in the second half.

That’s the story with Cristiano Roanldo, not for the first time this season: Every time he’s counted out, every time when the criticism seems to be reaching new volumes, he comes up with a clinical performance like this ones and goes on another scoring spree. He hardly needed to touch the ball, and still he nearly finished with a hat trick, sending another free kick to the crossbar and hitting the post in another effort from inside the box. Real Madrid have lost so much ground in their chase of Barcelona, while Ronaldo himself is already 8 goals behind Lionel Messi in the Pichichi race. Don’t tell me he doesn’t care about it as well.

The second half was the Real Madrid we saw for most of last season; disciplined and strong defense and the ability to create situations in 5 seconds or less after winning possession. The balls didn’t fall into the net this time, but it just raises the question why has Jose Mourinho seen so little of this ability from his players this season? It’s funny when a team that has won 69% of their points receives so much criticism, but it’s simply not enough in the current La Liga, and it goes to show this team needs some sort of challenge in front of them to bring out the best.

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