Real Madrid finished their pre-season with yet another dismal and uninspiring performance as they lost 5-4 on penalties against Roma after the scoreline read 2-2 at the full-time whistle. Real Madrid had a lot to do to prepare and arrange a team that can pose any kind of threat to Barcelona and Atletico in La Liga, but they seem far away from that level. It was another shambolic defensive show against Roma and there is no more time for experimental preparation as they have to start their La Liga campaign in 6 days.
As It Happened
Zidane fielded his starting line up with the 3-5-2 formation again. Real Madrid got ahead in the game twice in the first half but lost their lead soon after acquiring it. Modric initially attempted to find Benzema which evaded the Frenchman to find Marcelo who opened the scoring. Diego Perotti equalised on the 34th minute. Casemiro headed Madrid into the lead but it was neutralised by Dzeko’s excellent finish. The game was a mundane affair from that point on. Madrid’s casual game-play could not change the scoreline. Gareth Bale was surprisingly brought on in the second half but he could not make a difference either.
Real Madrid’s defence has become a major cause of concern at the moment. Specially Dani Carvajal and Nacho are going through some very tough moments. Carvajal had little impact in the game defensively or offensively. A 3-5-2 formation depends greatly on the wing-backs of the team. Carvajal’s movement up front was sluggish, first touches were heavy and crosses were very ineffective. In defence, he was equally disappointing, he was found running between two attackers on more than one occasion, having no clue of marking either one of them.
Madrid started the game with 6 defensive players including Casemiro as a defensive midfielder. Yet, there was no visible line of defence to collectively halt Roma and Madrid’s pressing was strange too. Real Madrid players were pressing their opponents only when the Roma players were looking to receive a loose ball. There was hardly any pressing when Roma dominated possession. Packs of three from both Madrid’s defence and midfield tried to create momentary obstacles for Roma’s passing lanes which ended in not having a concrete line of defence for themselves despite having 5 designated defenders in the line-up.
Vinicius Jr’s finishing was also something to be concerned about. His movement, positioning and dribbling ability is undeniable, but his finishing is far too inaccurate for a player at this level.
Zidane had the chance to build a team. Untimely injuries, difficulties in offloading unwanted players, difficult negotiation tactics from Manchester United regarding Pogba did not allow him to prepare in his desired way. Now Real Madrid faces this mammoth challenge of going forward with a with a team that had a terrible pre-season defensively. This team is still lacking clarity for a certain style of play as well. Only time will tell how Real Madrid will deal with these similar problems that just don’t seem to go away.