Soccer / match review

Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid: Solari’s Shocking Gamble Paid Off
Source The match at the Benito Vilamarin, the home of Real Betis lived up to expectations as Real Madrid needed a Dani Ceballos out to prove some points to dispatch a freekick clinically and bury his former team. With injuries, suspensions and player problems tied round the neck of Solari heading into this weekend match against Real Betis, a team that won Barcelona in front of their own fans, all eyes were focused on how the Argentine coach would approach the game. Source Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Mariano Diaz, were all out through injuries. Lucas Vasquez out through suspension, Solari was short of options as to who would fill the space left in his attacking sheet. Isco, a player thought by everyone especially the media to be disliked by Solari was thought to start and replace Lucas Vasquez. To the greatest surprise of everyone, not only Isco was omitted from the starting line up, world best left back Marcelo was left at the bench. Solari rolled out with an unpopular 3-5-2 formation, one that he has never used ever since he started his coaching career. Bearing in mind that Real Betis are a team that thrives in matches where much space was afforded to them, Solari made sure he granted them no such request. The Argentine set out with Keylor Navas between the sticks, a defence consisting of Nacho, Varane and Ramos in central defence, Sergio Reguilon in place of Marcelo as left wing back and Dani Carvajal as right wing back. The midfield saw Casemiro in central midfield, partnered by Fede Valverde and Luka Modric. Benzema and Vinicius Junior forwarded the attack. This formation meant that Real Madrid sat deep and aimed at defending for much part of the match with counter-attacks their major weapon. Real Betis bossed possession as Real Madrid hit their lowest possession record since 2011, a mere 24%. Although Real Betis had the ball for much part of the match but failed to create anything solid with it and Real Madrid hit them on the counter time and time again. Source This counter-attacking strategy by real Madrid apparently would have been a flawed idea had they not had an energetic and skilful player in Vinicius. The young Brazilian pushed the team forward on numerous occasions and a smart forward move by him resulted in Real Madrid’s first goal by Luka Modric, a left footed strike from close to the eighteen yard box and into the top left corner of the post(Two shots, two goals with the left foot this season for Modric, am I the only one wishing he shoots often with that foot?) Things went from bad to worse for Real Madrid as Benzema fractured his finger in injury time of the first half and young Castilla striker Cristo was brought in his place for the second half. The second half continued where it left off with Real Betis bossing possession without carving out an opening through the parked Madrid centre. As the half wore on, with press resistant Benzema off, Real Betis began to pour out their frustrations on the ball and Real Madrid started getting the shocks, a misjudged move by Varane left Sergio Canales through on goal after being nicely picked out by Le Celso and he scored. The VAR was consulted after Canales was adjudged by the Real Madrid players to be offside but VAR ruled it as onside and the goal stood. Solari looked to his bench after that goal and made surprising changes. Sergio Reguilon who looked tired came off for new signing Brahaim Diaz who came on to make his La Liga debut and Dani Ceballos came on for Valverde. The match continued in the same vein as Real Madrid looked set to drop another two points until the 88th minute. Source Casemiro won a free kick for the team just close to the 18 yard box and Dani Ceballos was left by Ramos to take it after the captain dropped some words in his ear. The Spaniard calmly directed the curved freekick beyond the reach of the keeper and into the net to silence the fans that has been booing him ever since his cameo. That goal sealed the tie and helped save Solari’s head which was already on the spike. Conclusion Real Madrid appears to be undergoing a revolution under Solari as the Argentine coach prefers to give more chances to players willing to sweat it out for the team and those that fit into his system. Players that were overlooked by his predecessor are being used to great effects by Solari. The results might not be coming in green all the time now but it is a cultivation that demands patience before the harvest period. THANKS FOR READING

Real Madrid 3-0 Leganes