Football fans enjoyed one of the most exciting matches of the season as Real Madrid and Atletico took a point home in the last Madrid derby. Carlo Ancelotti’s men showed great character to salvage a point in a tough game that left a number of interesting factors to look at for Los Blancos. Here are our top five deductions from the Madrid derby:
1. Real Madrid lack attacking potential without Marcelo and Carvajal in the line-up. Carlo Ancelotti tried to counteract Atletico’s intensity by lining-up his bravest full-backs –Coentrao and Arbeloa. However, that resulted in a lack of offensive depth, as none of them can produce as many crosses and goal chances as Marcelo and Carvajal.
That strategy seemed to work in the Copa del Rey tie against their city rivals, but analysing it carefully, it seems clear that despite winning 5-0 overall, Real didn’t play as fluidly in attack as they did on Sunday with Marcelo and Carvajal on the field. In fact, of those five goals, two of them were lucky shots deflected off a defender, and another two were penalty kicks.
2. Sergio Ramos is not the world’s best centre-back –as many claim. The best centre-back of the world wouldn’t have tripped Diego Costa inside the box in that play, when the striker wasn’t even in a good angle to shoot on target and the ball was going out. Ramos touched Costa, as he later admitted, but luckily the referee didn’t award the penalty. Nevertheless, that is a mistake a world-class player should never make, as it could have completely changed the game. Ramos’ form has improved in 2014, but Pepe is performing a lot better this season.
3. The debate on Arbeloa not being called for Spain’s squad is senseless –he’s simply not at that level right now. The Spartan has served decently when needed, both in his club and in the national team. Despite lacking a great technical ability, he’s always put in good performances, showing more courage and spirit of sacrifice than anyone. However, he has turned 31, and it seems clear that he’s not as fast and fit as he used to be. Vicente del Bosque has chosen wisely calling Juanfran and Cesar Azpilicueta, and if any other right-back should be contending for Spain’s right-back spot, that is Carvajal.
4. Isco can have a very important role in the team. Despite having lost his spot in the starting eleven to Angel di Maria, Isco proved in the second half against Atletico that he can bring light when Real is surrounded by darkness. The new 4-3-3 system might have made things more difficult for him to get minutes of play, but his good performance at the Vicente Calderon showed he’s the man to turn to when the team needs inspiration and impetus in attack. The season is very long, and with Los Blancos still fighting for all competitions, Isco will surely have things to say.
5. La Liga’s winner will be the most meritorious champion of the last seven years. The fight for the title hasn’t been so close since 2007, when Real lifted the trophy thanks to their best head-to-head record, after ending in a 76-points tie with Barcelona. That season, Sevilla trailed the two giants by only five points, and it seems like Atletico can even improve that this year. Although many had ruled them out after their defeat in Pamplona, their brilliant game in the derby has silenced critics. They might not have a squad as depth as those of their rivals, but none of them will beat them in intensity and sacrifice.