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, 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:
May 18, 2013, 10:33 PM EDT
Highlights and context as “Jack Mac” scores his league-leading 8th goal:
May 18, 2013, 9:50 PM EDT
Cascadia Cup matches are always interesting, and Saturday’s 2-2 draw at BC Place was full of talking points:
May 18, 2013, 8:24 PM EDT
it was a big crowd pleaser on two fronts when the Whitecaps’ forward stroked an unstoppable free kick against Portland:
May 18, 2013, 8:05 PM EDT
The young Timbers’ attacker is having an outstanding season for the Jeld-Wen Field bunch:
May 18, 2013, 7:38 PM EDT
Higuain created the game’s only goal and was masterful in possession at BMO Field:
May 18, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT
An appearance next week in Paris Saint-Germain’s final match 2012-13 season doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the retiring superstar:
May 18, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
Video: Reports out of England say today was the former England captain’s final match, rather than next week as expected:
May 18, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
Depth at United will allow David Moyes to hut big game this offseason.
May 18, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT
David Beckham’s not dropping off your radar anytime soon.
May 18, 2013, 2:01 PM EDT
Before Monaco takes on Europe, they have to convince French soccer.
May 18, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT
Manchester City’s former boss reaches out to his supportive fan base – his first public comments since his Monday dismissal.
May 18, 2013, 12:28 PM EDT
Mercifully, the season’s come to an end for the 17 clubs who tried to keep pace with Bayern Munich.
May 18, 2013, 11:40 AM EDT
Manchester United’s outgoing boss was amazed but not surprised at his rival’s dismissal.
May 18, 2013, 10:22 AM EDT
Relegation’s decided. So’s the title and two of the league’s Europa League spots. All that’s left? The battle for top four.
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