Carlo’s questionable Madrid

Real Madrid earned their second win in a row, but, Frank Tigani believes the manner in which they did so leaves questions Carlo Ancelotti has yet to answer.

For football purists, Real Madrid’s last two games will have delighted. A total of 15 goals, some beautiful, some not so, have been scored. The football too has had a bit of everything, from the aesthetically pleasing possession game to lighting fast counter attacks. Five of them have come from arguably the world’s most in-form player, Cristiano Ronaldo, while another five have come from two teams that have really impressed with their never-say-die attitude even when facing the might of Madrid. It’s been a splendid and crazy ride.

The lunacy that unfolded on Wednesday night had Carlo Ancelotti’s side earning the plaudits for their goal-scoring exhibition that enabled them to brush aside the disappointment of losing to rivals Barcelona four days prior. Yet, against a true minnow – even one that likes to punch above its weight – in Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night, Madrid were again exposed. 

The second half was just three minutes old when Ronaldo got his second of the game. Gareth Bale was the provider for the fourth time in just two games. The Portuguese’s goal made it 3-0 to Real Madrid, who looked on course for an easy three points.

But easy it was not. Not overawed by their way more illustrious visitors or the score-line, Rayo, like Sevilla, fought back. Two goals from Jonathan Viera, both from the spot, had the home fans dreaming. Their Coach, Paco Jemez, must have thought that the dream he had before the game where he his team taught Madrid a lesson was about to come true. Despite falling short of an equaliser, in many ways they still did.

On Sunday morning, Marca believed it to be so. ‘It was a lesson in football and courage from the hosts’, read their headline.  Certainly in the second half, it was. Their courage was admirable, their football at times wonderful. Xabi Alonso’s withdrawal at half-time probably had something to do with it and it once again highlighted just how important he is to his side. But in any case, all the credit belonged to the hosts.

Of course, Jemez and his players were ultimately left frustrated having come away empty-handed. They deserved more. At the same time, leaving aside goals and looking at just the performances, it was Madrid that were left with more question marks. 

Ancelotti wants his team to play a game based on possession, control and defensive solidity. Based on the evidence, his team is a long way from this. Madrid still seem to be more comfortable when playing on the counter attack. In addition, their character is also questionable. For such a ridiculously talented group of players, it is difficult to understand how they have conceded more goals this season than the likes of Levante, Granada and Elche.

But, at least in Ronaldo Madrid have some guarantees. This is more than what can be said of Lionel Messi at the moment. The Argentine has been inconspicuous of late by his lack of goals – it is now three-and-a-half games since he last scored – and the rise of Neymar. It was the Brazilian who came to his side’s rescue on Friday night with an assist for Alexis Sanchez that went between not one but two sets of legs. Messi has assured that he will be back, once he is 100 per cent again. But seeing him like this, it is a strange feeling.

There is this same strange feeling when one thinks of Almeria too. Having not won a game all season, in the space of four days Francisco Rodriguez’s have won twice. Though, their winning goal against Valladolid on Saturday night should never have been awarded as Rodri clearly, and intentionally, used his hand to divert the ball into the net. It was obscene but Diego Maradona would have been proud.

Read more from Frank Tigani at The Divine Ponytail.