Sep 16, 2012, 1:33 PM EDT
Eight points back after four rounds. This is not how Real Madrid’s title defense was supposed to start. After yesterday’s loss at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Los Merengues have one win through four rounds. Barcelona remains perfect.
With the premium on points in Spain, it’s tempting to look at that gap and wonder if Real Madrid’s already fallen too far behind. We approached the issue in a round-about way two weeks ago, but today’s point remains the same: It’s too soon too look directly at the table. As Barcelona reminded us when they almost came back last year, we have an unfortunate tendency to want to decide titles between rounds (with conjectures on the standings) rather than let things play out on the field. Manchester City’s comeback in England, FC Dallas’s current resurgence in Major League Soccer – even very late in seasons, it’s hard to tell when something is done and dusted. Spain’s barely 10 percent of the way through their season.
Madridistas should instead turn their attention to the performances – to finding explanations. After scoring 121 goals in 38 league games last year, Real Madrid has scored only five times this season. They never suffered such a feckless stretch last season. It seems something’s wrong. Only Gonzalo Higuain (three) and Cristiano Ronaldo (two) have gotten on the scoresheet, and Ronaldo’s one-in-two production is roughly half of his normal output.
Anytime you see that kind of downturn, it helps to ask whether it’s a lack in chances or bad finishing. Looking at Real Madrid’s shots and shots on target, it looks like the problem is finishing:
|Season||Shots/game||Lg. Rank||Shots OT/game||Lg. Rank|
Maybe it’s the quality of chances. Or maybe the opposing goalkeeping’s been great. Regardless, the numbers hint generating chances isn’t the problem.
Perhaps that’s why José Mourinho seems so frustrated. The Real Madrid coach can put in schemes to open up the attack, to break down an opposing defense – to generate chances – but he can’t do the finishing.
“I worry about my team and the fact that since the start of the official season we have only played well in the Super Cup, a little bit against Valencia and a little bit against Granada. That is my concern rather than points. At this moment I have no team.”
Quote from realmadrid.com by way of espnfc.com.
Not having a team is generally considered to be a problem, especially with a Champions League match against Manchester City looming on Tuesday.
The start of a second competition is a reminder: stakes are escalating. The margin of error in Champions League may be thinner than La Liga. There are only six group matches, and while it’s highly unlikely Real Madrid won’t make the knockout round, City and German champions Borussia Dortmund are set to make it uncomfortable. Even if a slip doesn’t cost Real a spot in the last 16, it could open the door for City to win the group, handing Real Madrid a much tougher road to the decima.
The answers probably aren’t that complicated. The team’s generating chances. Just finish them. Having allowed four goals in as many games, defending isn’t necessarily a problem, but until the attack gets on track, it will have to be better.
While there isn’t anything to worry about at the Bernabeu, there’s plenty of cause for frustration.
May 19, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT
Sporting K.C. manager Peter Vermes and defender Ike Opera didn’t appreciate the pivotal offsides call that disallowed a possible winning goal against D.C. United, and they made that very obvious.
May 19, 2013, 8:58 PM EDT
Paolo Di Canio and Andre Villas-Boas took to the media following their teams’ Premier League finale to voice displeasure with how their final fixture played out.
May 19, 2013, 7:51 PM EDT
A dull, scoreless first half picked up in the second term as D.C. United grabbed a point against the league’s second-best team and ended their club-record losing streak at 7 matches.
May 19, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
With his eye on the imminent vacancy at Real Madrid left by Jose Mourinho’s almost certain departure, Paris Saint-Germain’s mastermind Carlo Ancelotti may now have a large hurdle to get past if he is to land his ideal job in Spain’s capital.
May 19, 2013, 5:34 PM EDT
Fernando Torres broke his Premier League scoring drought by banging home the game-winner to secure Chelsea a third place finish.
May 19, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT
Heartbreak in Serie A this year belongs to Fiorentina. Mario Balotelli converted a penalty in the 84th minute to draw level and two minutes later Philippe Mexes slotted home a cross to secure Europe’s top competition for AC Milan.
May 19, 2013, 5:01 PM EDT
Rare as they are, we’ve seen more than our share of “Olimpico” goals in MLS over the last pair of seasons, including one last night:
May 19, 2013, 4:47 PM EDT
With Arsenal and Tottenham the only teams battling for any meaningful positioning in the Premier League table, the final day still had implications for many teams in the form of placement prize money.
May 19, 2013, 4:28 PM EDT
Sir Alex Ferguson managed the final match of his career away from Old Trafford, and it looked set to complete on a high note, until the opposition had other ideas late.
May 19, 2013, 4:25 PM EDT
Another game-winning strike from Gareth Bale wasn’t enough to save Tottenham from more Champions League heartache.
May 19, 2013, 3:50 PM EDT
New York took all the points from the L.A. Galaxy on Tim Cahill’s late goal. So let’s talk about that goal.
May 19, 2013, 3:17 PM EDT
This Landon Donovan debate regarding his place on the national team is not going anywhere. So, did Sunday’s performance move the needle either way?
May 19, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT
Arsenal secured its 16th consecutive spot on the Champions League with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
May 19, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
Sensational news for fans around BMO Field:
May 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
With David Beckham-esque tears streaming down my cheeks, we’re finally here: The final day of the 2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League.
May 19, 2013, 10:19 AM EDT
Newcastle have nothing to play for and have been a disaster at home of late, losing their last two matches at St. James’ Park by a combined 9-0.
May 19, 2013, 10:13 AM EDT
The timing on this thing in two words: pretty bad:
May 19, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves on the 20-year-old goal-scoring sensation … :
May 19, 2013, 12:48 AM EDT
The Sounders exploit Dallas’ young back line in a meeting of two Western Conference teams in top form. Final score: 4-2 for the Sounders:
May 18, 2013, 11:41 PM EDT
Juan Agudelo makes his New England debut as Jay Heaps posts one of the best wins of his young coaching career:
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