Real Madrid won 3-1 versus Real Zaragoza with goals from Kaka, Ronaldo and Ozil after we had gone down to a Lafita goal early on.
Starting XI: Casillas ; Altintop, Carvalho, Pepe, Marcelo; Granero, Alonso; Ozil, Kaka, Cristiano, Benzema
Bench: Adan, Higuain, Arbeloa, Lass, Varane, Callejon and Coentrao.
10 Conclusions from the game:
- The curious case of Nuri Sahin continues. Sahin having been named in the squad for the game wasn’t in the starting XI or on the bench. It is difficult for me to figure out why a €10million signing is not playing as many games as he should. Is there an injury worry behind it? If there were one, he wouldn’t have been part of the squad to begin with. Even if he is a signing for the future, omitting him completely is not doing his confidence any good.
- Interesting back line in the absence of Ramos. Albiol not included in the XI or the bench. Looks like Albiol will be offloaded in the summer. Backline of Altintop, Carvalho, Pepe and Marcelo performed well but for Marcelo who looked more of a liability in defence. He was caught out when Zaragoza scored and looked solid in attack than in defence.
- Mourinho again went with Ozil and Kaka in attack with the usual pairing of Ronaldo + Higuain/Benzema. The pairing of Kaka and Ozil worked beautifully. Both players were practically everywhere, creating chances and having a crack at the goal. And this is clear from the fact that both were on the scoresheet and had an assist each.
- Xabi Alonso wasn’t his usual self today. Despite having pass completion rate of 96% he was slow on the ball on many occasions. There weren’t any brilliant long balls played splitting the defence or long balls to cover the entire width of the pitch. There were hints of injury as he went directly into the tunnel when substituted by Lass.
- Granero had another stellar game in midfield. He was fantastic in defence and in attack. He was able to do his job without any difficulty owing mainly due to the movement around him by Kaka and Ozil thereby allowing him to stay in the middle and rotate the ball around. Not the best thing to say but injury to Sami Khedira has been a blessing for Granero and for many of us who wanted to see more of the Canteranos in action.
- Man of the match? It would be difficult to pick the man of the match between Granero and Ozil. Both were incredible throughout the 90 minutes and played pivotal role for the team. But, if I had to pick one I would pick Mesut Ozil. His passing, skills, deft touches and controls were simply mesmerizing.
- Our injury list may rise with both Marcelo and Alonso looking like they picked up something to keep them out for a few weeks. While Alonso’s situation is still uncertain, Marcelo is definitely injured but the extent of his injury hasn’t been revealed yet. Thanks to the depth of our squad am not really concerned but the defensive midfield situation may need some covering with Khedira out already.
- Marcelo was seen limping near the end of the game. He came back in and stood in midfield to pass the ball around without making any movement. Commendable to see his sportsmanship to stay on the pitch to help his team even though we were 3-1 ahead and in a comfortable situation.
- While the comebacks are a lot of fun and keep the excitement going, it shouldn’t be a regular feature! In the last four games we’ve gone down first only to rally back and win. It’s fun but let’s not overdo it please!
- Not related to the game but after the game there were reports suggesting Jose Mourinho would leave in the summer irrespective of the outcome of the league and/or UEFA Champions League. One side of me thinks it’s just another rumour and he will stay but another side of me thinks its going to happen. The source of the story (in this case Duncan Castles) is a credible journalist working for a credible newspaper (The Times) thereby making it hard not to believe.
What did you guys make of the game? Who was your man of the match?
Villarreal hosted FC Barcelona right after we played and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. This helped extend our lead to 7 points with 18 games to go. Great to extend the lead but a long way to go before we can celebrate!