When JosAi?? Mourinho took over as the coach of Real Madrid, he was assigned the task of knocking Barcelona off the perch. Eighteen months later, Los Blancos find themselves at the same cross roads, as they were when they started. FC Barcelona has beaten ‘the best club of the 20th century’ in every big fixture sans one, which went into extra time, and have maintained their aura of greatness with panache.

All the talks of Mourinhoai??i??s success in the second season and the three-year-cycle-of-dominance opinion of the great Hungarian coach, Bela Guttmann, are on the verge of losing its sheen. In his first two years at Porto, Mourinho sent shockwaves throughout Europe with his tactics and later managed to transform a no-history club like Chelsea into a giantAi??one with ambitions.Ai??With Inter, he has won the Champions League, a trophy Moratti and the Inter fans had been craving since the departure of Helenio Herrera. JosAi?? Mourinho is also known to learn from his mistakes.Ai??However, at Real Madrid, the Portuguese superstar manager is on the cusp of undoing all his doings so far.

Against Barcelona last night, Real Madrid took to the pitch with relatively the same approach that they employed in the first leg of the Champions League last year, albeit in aAi??worse fashion. Playing three strikers, with no play maker and a trivote comprising two purely defensive midfielders alongside a deep-lying play maker; and then employing a hardly used squad player, that too in a match of paramount importance against Andres Iniesta,Ai??at right back was too risky to pull off from the start.

In the recent La Liga clash at Santiago BernabAi??u, the home team pressed like hounds from the start. The players looked aggressive, hungryAi??and their emphasis was on attack in the first half hour, until Pep Guardiola made the tactical switch. Even in the Copa Del Rey final, last season, Real Madrid had gone toe-to-toe against their Catalan rivals in the first half, gaining an upper hand, until Barcelona made a strong come back in the second half. But, here the team organization and tactics felt a bit strange. They did not ooze confidence.

The first goal scored was typical Mourinho-counter attack; a brilliant through ball, Ronaldoai??i??s pace and boom! And after that, as BarAi??a settled down, Real Madrid looked short of ideas. Gonzalo Higuain was virtually non-existent, as Benzema had to drop back to feel the ball. Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema like to play close to the box. None of them particularly have the habit of dropping closer to the midfield to pick up the ball. With Pepe, Lass and Xabi staying deep, the gap between midfield and forwards was bound to increase. And adding to the fact that Lass and Pepe are primarily destructive midfielders, did not help matters much. The midfielders did win the ball but were clueless what to do with it. Their short passes were unproductive and their movement wasAi??extra defensive.

Mesut Ai??zil: Was he missed?

Instead of employing a defensive 4-3-3, Mourinho had the option of lining a 4-4-2 diamond, with Ai??zil as the tip of the diamond. Higuain and Benzema are effective when playing together but for them to play together somebody has to move the ball forward. Mesut Ai??zil, the best playmaker in Real Madrid currently, was confined to the bench and entered too late into the match. Benzema showed some promise and Ronaldo was on a mission to prove himself. Looking back at the match, Ai??zil could have been the key to make Mourinhoai??i??s system better than Higuain.

Gone are the days of Zidane, Raul, Figo and Carlos. Gone are the days of those insanely brilliant one-twoai??i??s, the triangular passes, the rapid transitions in play and the impeccable throughballs. Gone are the days of holding the ball and controlling the game. Jose Mourinhoai??i??s Real Madrid went down so meeklyAi??against the Catalans that watching them in the first leg,Ai??one cannot help but feel that Espanyol were much better than the capital side. There was no imagination, no intelligent ball movement, no proper defense and a lack of respect for the opponent.

If offense was a mighty failure, the defense was an everAi??bigger one.

Pepe: Does not deserve to wear the Madrid shirt

The first goal was a gift to Puyol by Pepe. The Brazilian-born Portuguese defender may be a good defender but sometimes he is also a thug on the field. His hard-to-find-an-adjective stomp on Francisco Casquero, while the Getafe player was on the ground is still fresh in memory and so will be the stomp on Messiai??i??s hand for a long time. Last year, Barcelona were criticized heavily for play-acting with Pepe leading the voice, but yesterday he repeated the same dastardly act of throwing himself on the ground with no reason. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a reason to like Pepe on the field. In short, it will be a crime to support Pepe for his displays on the football pitch!

The other goal was as ridiculous as the first one. The entire team surrounded Lionel Messi. No other player on the pitch seemed to exist. Benzema, Alonso and Ai??zil converged all at a time but Messi still had the time to look up and find Abidal in acres of space with only Casillas to beat. Altintop was woefully out of position; Ronaldo seemed hardly interested to fathom what can happen. Even withAi??ten men behind the ball, Barcelona scored the goal through the most unusual of routes.

Barcelona seem to pull off all this with bare minimum fuss. But Real Madrid switch off when they are playing against Barcelona. All they care is to move the ball forward as soon as possible or win the ball in anyway. Alonso, easily one of the finest midfielders of our generation, has never had a memorable game against the European Champions. It is because, he is defending more rather than creating. Also, the team is too much dependent on him in crunch games like these. Even Xavi needs Iniesta and Busquets to wield his magic.

It is not as if Real Madrid lack the resources to play with the ball. In Sahin and Ai??zil, theyAi??perhaps have two of the most intelligent players in Europe but Mourinho has hardly played Sahin so far, while Ai??zil has been reduced to a side kick instead of being the primary play maker.

In two years, if JosAi?? Mourinho and Real Madrid have been taught any lesson, it is that defending hard and deep will not reap any results against this Barcelona team. But, Mourinho has committed the same mistake again.

Real Madrid needs to change its approach. It needs to bring the flair back, the style, and the panache, which is its identity. They need to play football with the ball and not without it -Ai??defending.

JosAi?? Mourinho has built his reputation around the fact that he is a great tactician. Pep Guardiola has comfortably beaten Mourinho at the tactics game on and off the pitch, and most importantly has hardly erred against his biggest nemesis. But, Mourinho has repeated his mistakes and moreover has failed to find a solution.

In a week, the two biggest rivals in club football will clash again. It will take a monumental effort from Real Madrid and a pure attacking approach to win the tie against Barcelona and progress to the next round. Will they succeed atleast this time? Only time will tell. But, even an eternal optimist will tell you that it looks highly improbable.

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12 Responses to “Real Madrid’s Corner : Will Mourinho Stop Committing the Same Mistakes?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. prakhar says:

    Mourinho is a dumb-ass. Ur article is spot on and resonates totally with what I feel.

  2. John says:

    I absolutely agree. Great article, very well said! It is time to go out & play Barca in an attacking style. Real have the resources, as you mentioned. As they say Mou, the best form of defense is to attack. And in this case attack at will(Ozil, Sahin, Kaka, Marcelo)!

  3. Bhuvaneswari says:

    “They need to play football with the ball and not without it ” well written and hats off to Pep and his men

  4. Pratik says:

    “no-history club like Chelsea”. Why the unnecessary dig? Do your research before adding such things. I agree Chelsea was not amongst the topmost clubs, but hence terming it as no-history club is unfair and idiotic.

  5. Ray says:

    “” agree with this article..no doubt mourinho is a brave man with lots of idea to turn around the match to achieve the result he want..but when he face Barcelona..he seems running out of ideas and become mental block for him and real madrid to beat Barce…he has many intelligent players like Ozil,Sahin,Kaka which could provide creative displays in the centre, but mourinho yet to use them for big match…what a waste…football is nothing than passing game…so built your middle engine first if you ever face Barcelone…

  6. noway says:

    Talking big & beautiful in theory is easy but applying it is not.
    You could try any other tactic with any coach you could find in this world including yourself as coach but i doubt they or you will do anything close to Mourinho’s result.

  7. Argento says:

    Gone are the days when Real Madrid used to play for pride, honour, passion. Today all Jose Mourinho does is bulldoze the lesser teams with an intimidating line-up acquired by spending a fortune and turns ugly against Barca. People credit him for winning against Barca. On second thought, the reasons behind his win cannot be neglected. Barcelona travelled by road and Inter had the pitch well doctored to their convenience. Moreover, Diego Milito’s offside goal was ruled out. So why make a God out of Jose, who needed a lot of luck to get past Barca? Why not give Mr. Arsene Wenger his due credit, as his team too defeated Barcelona in a much better fashion?

    Or is it that Jose catches the eye and sells more than Wenger that the entire is going abuzz about him?

    Wenger, with this Madrid team, will beat Barca more than what Jose does! Ask a Gooner!

  8. Messi says:

    Yea when Barca lose it’s all down to opponent’s good luck.
    And ok let’s get Wenger to Bernabeu and see how many trophyless seasons Real goes.

  9. K10 says:

    Wenger, with this Madrid team, will beat Barca more than what Jose does! Ask a Gooner!

    So would Sam Allerdyce. What’s the point?

    Coming to the pitch, It’s highly strange to see Jose still the man in-charge of Real Madrid. Real madrid, the club who infamously used to sack their managers for not winning the title “in style” are now so desperate that they would do anything to take the league win even when they know they aren’t the best team in the two-team league. Highly unfortunate for the Madrid fans to see their team losing out on the pride. Btw, 1 win in 9 matches after spending millions of amount of all the players, is what Jose could achieve. This is not progression but degression

  10. Bienvenue says:

    Ronaldo’s goal was not a one time thing. He had space down the right a few times during that first half and was easily our most outstanding performer. The tactics that we set out to play are/were justified. What I think Mourinho should’ve done was to sub out Higuan who contributed absolutely nothing, and just play another midfielder to congest up the middle.

    About this vogue idea of a Madrid inferiority complex — I wouldn’t quite go that far, but Barcelona is clearly the better team. Very much more talented than we are at every position except their back line/keeper. It’s very very difficult to play them open and win. It’s even harder to play them open with midfielders that aren’t used to pressuring the ball and winning it back — i.e alonso + ozil. So asking that we play slow and less dynamic midfielders and expect to hope to see the ball and not concede tons of fouls is I think a pipe dream.

    That being said, I think next week we’ll play ozil in the hole with Di maria pinching into the middle to help out and Benzema coming back as a false nine to also help keep the ball when we win it — with Ronaldo as the out ball. That worked very well in the Super Copa when Benzema had the best game any Madrid player has had against Barca in a long time.

    Moral of this all is when you play a better team — you should play in a way to best accomplish victory. I can not for the life of me understand why you would want to play in an open fashion knowing that you will lose 10 times out of 11.

  11. JM says:

    Ozil is yet to play a good game against Barcelona. He has always been marked very well by Busi in all matches incld WC match, That could be one reason Mou do not prefer him.