Somehow, a very unconvincing performance turned into a 4-0 win. Jose Mourinho got his 100th as a Real Madrid head coach and even without Cristiano Ronaldo having to score, the champions just needed two stretches of two minutes, once in the first half, again in the second, to make it look like they were part of a wonderful footballing display.
In truth, it was slow and agonizing at times, while Zaragoza had a pretty decent performance at the Santiago Bernabegu. Maybe it says something about the state of the La Liga, when teams losing 4-0 on the road to Real Madrid shouldn’t feel bad about themselves, but that’s life. Iker Casillas and his defense were tested more than once and should have conceded in the 68th minute, making it 1-2, but Helder Postiga’s goal was disallowed for no good reason.
On the other end, it a bit of pressure that helped crumble the Zaragoza opposition. In the first half, it was simply Real Madrid players having somewhat of target practice at Roberto Gago’s goal. The first goal came from a Gonzalo Higuain rebound, the second came from Angel Di Maria taking advantage of his own miss to make it 2-0 and pretty much close out the match.
Why did Real look so dull for so long? Probably the pairing of Luka Modric and Michael Essien in the middle instead of the usual Xabi Alonso (suspended) and Sami Khedira. Modric played much more cautiously than he usually does, although he did get to score right before the end, while Essien mostly concentrated on defensive assignments instead of being actually box to box, like the manual says. He also got a goal after a nice assist from Karim Benzema right before the final whistle.
And there’s Mesut Ozil, who hasn’t been looking quite himself over the last three weeks. Maybe it’s the 4-4 against Sweden that shook him to the bones, but you don’t see Bayern Munich players complaining. Ozil wasn’t exactly happy with the arrival of Modric, and maybe playing with him in the same lineup wasn’t the best for the German midfielder, feeling that his bad form and simply other players (Kaka, Modric) are on his heels, chasing his spot in the lineup which up until recently has been a guarantee.
The real attacking midfielder this season has been Angel di Maria, playing more and more in the middle while drifting away from his original position on the wing. His passing has been the best on the team, creating chances for himself and others while usually shaking off the two defenders arriving to close him down on the right flank. It also creates room for whoever it is that’s playing as right back to come forward, although both Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa didn’t look too keen (only following orders I guess) to make much of an offensive mark on the match.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a usual day. The balls just didn’t fall into the net. He took nine shots at Roberto’s goal, but none of his powerful efforts hit the target. The real good efforts sailed wide, as Ronaldo was in his non-passing mood, simply concentrated on scoring and forgetting about team play. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out if Ronaldo was so eager to score due to the fact he knew he had a chance to make up ground after Messi didn’t score earlier. Also the fact that the game looked pretty much over with 65 minutes left to play helped him make the selfish choice of not passing to anyone.