Real Madrid remember the art of defending
Neither Osasuna nor Sevilla managed to generate a shot on target over the past two LaLiga games. A stark contrast from what we witnessed in Paris.
Alphonse Areola enjoyed a placid evening as he made his Real Madrid debut between the sticks with his side denying Osasuna a shot on target throughout the entire 90 minutes of the game. This feat coupled with a similar situation in Seville on Sunday was the first time in a decade where Real Madrid prohibited two consecutive rivals from getting a chance on goal throughout 180 minutes of action.
The statistic itself is impressive but what adds to the impact is the drastic transformation from the team who were convincingly beaten 3-0 in last week's Champions League group stage opener in Paris where Zidane's men were played off the park with the Parisian giants enjoying the bulk of possession, creating five shots on target during the evening and netting three. In the 2019-20 season openers, Real Madrid's opposition have created few chances on goal but those few occasions have been effective with 47.4% of the chances ending in goals. Celta managed 4 shots on target in the season opener, Valladolid (2 in the 1-1 draw), Villarreal (5 in the 2-2 draw), Levante (3) and PSG 5.
The back four of Odriozola, Militao, Nacho and Sergio Ramos looked imperious in last night's game with Nacho making his league debut against Osasuna and the player's defensive versatility a major plus for Zidane when dealing with defensive injuries.
New season signing Militao is also now showing his value and looked more comfortable playing alongside captain Ramos last night following his first taste of Champions League action in a Madrid shirt a night he will be quick to forget. Against Osasuna the 21-year-old won 88,9% of his direct duels and was 100% effective in making tackles looking composed and assured in the Madrid rearguard.
The Wanda awaits
The merits for this sudden transformation do however go beyond just the defensive line with other players playing their respective roles in assisting in defensive duties, Zidane has addressed the distance between each bank of players now playing in a more compressed formation. Sergio Ramos was also quick to recognise this adjustment with the defender quick to acknowledged the role played by both Hazard and Bale in assisting the rearguard in the Seville win.
Saturday's Madrid derby now presents another major challenge for Zidane's men with both sides from the capital occupying first and second places in LaLiga, adding yet another layer of drama to this eagerly anticipated fixture.
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