Real Madrid drew their first La Liga match of the season against Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
When Marcelino chose to name a side not consisting many of his regular players, one wouldna t really have predicted Villarreal to return home with a point. However, on Sunday, Marcelinoa s tactical prowess successfully held Real Madrid to their first draw in the league this season and brought an end to their glorious run of home wins in the league. The draw brings Barcelona closer to the first place by two points and the race between the two Spanish giants a Real Madrid and Barcelona a gets intense with every passing week.
Here are three things we learned from the game at the Bernabeu:
Iker Casillas a Down, but definitely not out
Iker Casillas might be at the receiving end of tremendous criticism from the fans, rival fans, experts, etc. but there is no denying the fact that the Spaniard surely hasna t reached a point where he should consider playing in a lower league outside Europe (read MLS). If it wasna t for the captain, Real Madrid would have lost the game and would have come even closer to the second place. Casillas made himself big in a one-on-one situation against in-form Luciano Vietto and denied Villarreal the chance to get the victory. Iker had a really good game overall and it would be harsh on him if Real Madrid make the Spaniard leave in the summer.
Real Madrida s attack seems to be running out of ideas
The entire game against Villarreal, we saw Real Madrid running forward and then it was either Marcelo and Isco or Carvajal and Bale throwing in crosses from the left and right flank respectively. With physically strong players like Ronaldo and Benzema lurking inside the box, it is alright to throw in crosses every now and then. But Real Madrid just didna t have a plan B in place even after realizing that the crosses werena t giving them any result. We did not see anything being created from the middle from any of the Real Madrid midfielders. Toni Kroos was playing a bit too deep, Isco was always on the left linking up with Marcelo and Lucas Silva was only recovering the ball and passing it to the nearest player. Ancelotti must work out a plan which sees his team getting more creative from the middle and relying less on the crosses coming in from the wings.
Villarreal could be the next Atletico
Atletico Madrid is one of those few giant-killers who managed to win La Liga convincingly and also reached the UEFA Champions League finals despite not being one of the heavy spending, star-studded clubs in Europe. Like Atletico, Villarreal are showing similar determination and increasing their worth in the league with each passing game-week. Motivated players, intelligent management and passionate displays are some of the traits that have seen Villarreal succeed in recent times. The a Yellow Submarinea are only one point behind fifth-placed Sevilla and despite being eight points short of the fourth place, Villarreal certainly have it in them to challenge Valencia for the last Champions League qualification spot. If Villarreal continue their run, a season or two later we might see them regular competing for one of the top-four places in the league.