Real Madrid returned to league action on Valentinea s Day as they hosted Deportivo La Coruna at home. Though the a All Whitesa were not at their brilliant best against a mid-table side, they did manage to secure three points, a clean sheet and a temporary lead of four points at the top of La Liga. Real Madrid managed to ward off the fears of yet another upset after the 4-0 disappointment against Atletico. The 2-0 win over Deportivo was exactly what Carlo Ancelottia s men needed a few days before their round-of-16 encounter against Schalke.
First Half Analysis
Real Madrid started the game very cautiously, trying to hold on to possession for as long as possible and not creating many chances at the beginning. From the start, it was quite clear that Ancelotti did not want his team to experience yet another nightmare. However, Real Madrid did not do a great job at the start as they tried to set the tempo and gain control over the game. They gave Deportivo La Coruna a lot of freedom and were forced to fall back and defend. The away side created a couple of good chances only for former Barcelona player Isaac Cuenca to miss. As the game progressed, Real Madrid soon started to find their rhythm back and Isco and Bale started working their magic using the pace to create attacks. Soon enough Real Madrid looked menacing on as both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale struck the crossbar and failed to break the deadlock. Karim Benzema was also unable to convert a good opportunity although he ended up winning a corner after Manuel Pablo deflected the shot. 22 minutes into the game, Real Madrid were able to finally break the deadlock. A brilliant combination by Benzema and Bale landed a cross in Ronaldoa s feet, only for the Portuguese failing to make contact and miss the chance of scoring from close range into an empty net. Alvaro Arbeloa was able to keep the ball in play as he threw it back for Isco, who took it onto his right foot and shot a beautiful curler to the far post and gave Real Madrid the lead. Real Madrid got the lead but failed to capitalize on it as they allowed Deportivo to attack and only managed to, at times, break on the counter. However, both teams failed to score the second goal of the match in the first half.
Second Half Analysis
The second half began on a positive note for Real Madrid. The midfielders, Toni Kroos and Illarramendi, stepped up their game and were able to dictate the tempo of the game. Marcelo and Isco gelled well together along with Benzema creating a few good chances. However, Real Madrid were unable to get the final pass through to double their advantage. Around the 65th minute, Deportivo started to press harder in search of an equalizer. Real Madrid were able to contain them despite the various chances created by the away side. Raphael Varane did a great job as he didna t put a foot wrong and was brick-solid in the defence. Deportivo had two good chances to grab the equalizer. However, Deportivo failed on both the occasions as Borges struck the post once and Casillas made a brilliant save to deny Riera, who headed in from close range. Deportivo were left to rue their missed chances as in the 73rd minute, Real Madrid charged in on the counter and Arbeloa dinked it forward towards Ronaldo, who pushed it despite little room for Benzema to chip it calmly beyond Fabricio. The second goal was enough to confirm the victory for the home side. The remaining minutes of the game did not produce anything notable as Real Madrid chose to relax a bit. The home side had only 10-men to protect their lead in the closing minutes of the game as Marcelo limped off after all the three substitutions were made. Despite the absence of Marcelo, Real Madrid were able to protect their two goal advantage quite comfortably till the final whistle was blown.
Not the prettiest games Real Madrid have played this season, but the win will definitely go a long way in helping Ancelotti bring the season back on track and restore positivity in the side. The three points earned will go a long way in helping Real Madrid reach closer to the league title. Improvements are definitely required to be made if Real Madrid want to achieve the ultimate prize in La Liga and Champions League.