UEFA Champions League 2018/19: Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow
Months after winning a record third consecutive Champions League trophy, Real Madrid suffered a record home defeat against CSKA Moscow, who added to their win in Moscow with a 3-0 victory at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and still found themselves bottom of their group. Strikes from Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov and Arnor Sigurdsson left Madrid, Spain and Europe stunned. Here, our tactical analysis will use statistics to identify what key points Real Madrid can take from the game as they were humiliated in Charmartin.
Did Solari get it wrong?
With eight changes to the side which beat Huesca, Santiago Solari made it clear that this game was far from a priority for him. It is understandable, with a Club World Cup around the corner and nothing to play for. Yet it is hard to envisage that even he predicted quite how wrong his experimenting would go. The likes of Javi Sanchez, Jesus Vallejo, Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior were among those who made rare first-team starts.
Part of the issue appears to be the way in which Real Madrid struggle when it comes to handling being in possession. Only twice have Real Madrid had more than 60% of possession under Lopetegui. The aggregate score from those two games has been 7-0 to Eibar and CSKA Moscow. Sides like Eibar and CSKA Moscow have been happy to sit deep and allow the reigning European champions to have the ball. And Solari’s men have looked at a loose end as what to do with it.
On Wednesday, there was a distinct lack of quality on the ball. The most concerning figure of all came in that CSKA Moscow’s third goal came just moments after Real Madrid’s possession peaked at 77%. It’s clear that errors have been devastating for Los Blancos, but being so open on the counter and so devoid of ideas when in possession is a major concern for Santiago Solari.
Isco is a problem
Having been dropped, it looked as though Isco may have come back with a bang up against Melilla. Instead, he failed to back it up against CSKA Moscow and returned to underwhelming. With such displays, he is unlikely to convince Solari that he deserves a role in the side, which will only continue to open up discussions and rumours on his future at the Bernabeu. What made matters even worse was how he then lost his cool with fans in the stands, responding to criticism in the second half after yet another failed attempt on goal.
Lining up alongside Marcos Llorente and Federico Valverde, the idea appeared to be that this would be his chance to show what he could do in a similar system to the first choice line-up. Solari has made it clear that, unlike Zinedine Zidane before him, he will not shoehorn Isco into the team. Given the chance to show how he can provide the creativity in midfield to break team’s down, he did the basics well enough, but failed to add anything special.
The Spanish international failed to complete a single cross, long pass or through ball, not helped by the desperation that grew as CSKA Moscow sat deeper and deeper with every goal and Real Madrid became more and more desperate. This should have been the opportunity for Isco to show he is a leader. His decision to reject the captain’s armband, supposedly because of an agreement with Dani Carvajal, only fueled that suggestion further.
Marcelo’s return may not be as positive as expected
Marcelo returned to action for his first appearance in over a fortnight for Real Madrid. Many had been anticipating his return as an opportunity for the team to build on their recent defensive improvements. This was seen as a comfortable run out for the Brazilian to get some minutes under his belt. Instead, he was woeful. All three goals came down the left flank which he was designated to protect.
What’s more, he won just one of his 12 duels. There was a real lack of effort on his part. In the first goal, his ambling back and then hopeless tracking of the runner left his area of the backline exposed, with Javi Sanchez failing to provide the cover that a more experienced team-mate may have been able to. By the time Marcelo had turned around to realise, three CSKA Moscow players were already queuing up to tuck the ball home, and Fedor Chalov willingly obliged.
With Alvaro Odriozola and Sergio Reguilon staking their claims in his absence, Marcelo should know that he will at, the very least, have to put some effort in to retain his spot. This display was one of complacency and arrogance. It is an attitude which has come to summarise everything that has gone wrong at the Bernabeu over the past six months, and one which seemingly is set to stay in certain players.
Vinicius hasn’t been playing for a reason
For all of the hype, all of the speed, all of the energy, Vinicius Junior is still not up to scratch to playing in top-level European football. Wednesday was yet another example of that as he once again failed to live up to expectations, producing a disappointing display with no end product yet again costing him dearly as he failed to make the difference. Despite getting fans on the edge of their seat, he could offer little more.
The truth is that the Brazilian is too predictable. Right from the off, CSKA Moscow knew exactly how to cancel out his game. His pace poses a threat, but every time he breaks down the left he would cut back in on himself and get a shot off. His first two efforts on goal were almost identical, and it is not a surprise that of his six shots on goal, three were blocked by defenders before the ball even reached the six-yard box.
Solari has been giving Vinicius more and more game time, but he is yet to really be given an opportunity in an important fixture with much at stake. Failing to convert, failing to complete his crosses and frequently leaving his team exposed at the back will do very little to justify earning a regular spot in the side. That is even with Solari seemingly unsure of who should be the third man in attack alongside Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
This was a dead rubber tie. Real Madrid have still qualified top of their group. In a game with seemingly nothing to lose, a record-breaking defeat was seemingly the only possible way that Solari’s men could end the night badly. Confidence has taken a hit, but it will be the coach’s job to ensure that it is not a fatal one. This was a blow, but it did not involve his strongest XI and there are plenty of far more important fixtures on the horizon.
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