Real Madrid maintained their lead at the top of the league after a 3-1 victory over Osasuna last night
Real Madrid would have felt the pressure after Barcelona’s 6-0 destruction of Alaves last night but eventually saw out a difficult match to maintain their lead at the top of the La Liga table. Real have two games in hand, but are currently only one point ahead of Barcelona and will definitely be looking over their shoulders.
Osasuna right-back Tano suffered a horrendous leg break early on which brought a stand-still to the game and the hosts looked a little shell-shocked for a while after that. Madrid managed to capitalise on this and opened the scoring with a goal from Ronaldo.
Osasuna then showed real spirit to start fighting back and deservedly got an equaliser through Sergio Leon. The hosts pushed Madrid all the way throughout the match, but second half goals from Isco and Lucas Vazquez were enough for Los Blancos to see out the win. We take a look at the key talking points from the game.
Isco shows his worth
Isco’s future at Real Madrid has been the subject of speculation for a few months now. It was recently reported that Barcelona were plotting a shock move for the Spanish midfielder, while there were also reports that he had rejected a contract extension at the Bernabeu and was a target for Manchester City.
Whatever his future may hold, the diminutive midfielder certainly showed why Madrid have been reluctant to sell him in the past. Everything Madrid did flowed through Isco and it was his goal that gave Real Madrid the lead in the second half.
If Isco puts in more performances like this he just might force himself into a regular starting position in Zinedine Zidane’s side. All the clubs interested in him would have been watching keenly and Real would do well to tie down the midfielder to a new contract.
3-5-2 not working for Zidane
Zinedine Zidane opted to start the match with a 5-3-2 formation which really functions as a 3-5-2, with Marcelo and Danilo working as wing-backs as opposed to full-backs. Once again, Madrid looked disjointed as a result of it.
Marcelo was spending far too much time in midfield, in a space where Isco and Modric should have been running the show. Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were too isolated up front and Osasuna found it far too easy to mark them out of the game.
Madrid’s defensive line also looked unstable as they always looked susceptible to a quick counter as a result of the high line they were playing. Zidane has been praised for his flexibility with his tactics but the Frenchman still needs to figure out this formation before using it regularly.
Madrid switched to more traditional 4-4-2 after Danilo was stretchered off and the improvement in their play was visible almost immediately. The midfield looked more fluid and organised, Ronaldo and Benzema were more involved in the game and Isco and Modric started dictating the play.
This formation seems to be the best one for the players they currently have. Once Gareth Bale returns, Zidane will have a lot more confidence when tinkering with the formation but for the moment it is best that Real stick to what they know best.
Marcelo impresses once more
Marcelo was definitely a contender for man of the match last night and was one of the best players on the pitch. Despite being asked to play as a wing-back and then shifting into his preferred position, Marcelo was impressive throughout.
The Brazilian completed 2 dribbles, made 2 key passes and completed 35 passes throughout the match, according to WhoScored. He also put in a very good performance defensively, completing a whopping 6 tackles and 1 interception.
Marcelo has been one of Real’s most consistent performers over the years and the 28-year old was once again a calming influence for Real last night. He ended the night with an assist as well, taking his assist tally for the season to 4.
Sergio Ramos makes it 500 matches for Real
Sergio Ramos made it 500 competitive appearances for Real Madrid after being named in the starting lineup last night. The 30-year old has been at the club since he was only 19 and has already etched himself in the history of the club as a legend.
Ramos has been the driving force behind several of Madrid’s key victories and his performances in the big games are stuff of legend. It was his goal in the 2014 Champions League final that equalised in stoppage time and led Madrid to their hallowed Decima, after all.
Ramos nearly capped off his 500th game in perfect fashion as he came close to scoring on two occasions, but for a man who the team matters so much to the victory would have been all he needed. Madrid fans showed their appreciation at full-time and will be hoping he stays at the club for many more years.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 11, 2017
Leg break overshadows the game, and the La Liga weekend
While there were reasons to celebrate for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, there were also some very unfortunate incidents last night. Aleix Vidal suffered a horrible leg-break for Barcelona and will only return next season as a result.
Still reeling from that incident, La Liga fans then had to watch Osasuna right-back Tano writhe in pain after a collision with Isco that left him with a broken tibia and fibula.
The tackle itself looked pretty standard and there was absolutely no intent from Isco but Tano’s studs appeared to be rooted in the pitch and his ankle broke horrible as a result of the collision.
Marcelo’s reaction says it all. pic.twitter.com/OR1i8NmX02
— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) February 11, 2017
The players themselves were visibly shocked by the incident but that was not the end of it as Danilo was stretchered off after a bad tackle. Everyone will be hoping that Danilo, Aleix Vidal and Tano can make quick and full recoveries and get back on the pitch as soon as possible.