Not the Real deal but victory gives Madrid a platform to build

first_imgThis was not perfect. It was never going to be, given Real Madrid were emerging from the wreckage of their humiliating 3-0 defeat by Eibar on Saturday.But Santiago Solari’s side got back on track with a 2-0 win at Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday that sees them seal top spot in Group G, which gives them something to build from.Talk over the past couple of days has circled around a new crisis for the European champions, after the heavy thrashing in the Basque country on Solari’s debut as permanent manager. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! The Argentine coach had won four from four as caretaker but was brought crashing back to earth at Ipurua and many thought Tuesday could be a further humiliation in the Italian capital.Good news trickled through before kick-off, as Viktoria Plzen came from behind to beat CSKA Moscow 2-1, guaranteeing Madrid would qualify for the last 16 before they even kicked off against Roma.It is the 21st consecutive season that Madrid have progressed in a competition that they have historically dominated.Perhaps then the lustre of this tournament was enough to rouse them from their sleep in a way La Liga can’t, but Madrid will derive come comfort from the performances of key players and their lethal counter-attacking display.Santiago Solari, Real MadridAt times in the first half Madrid’s defence was all over the place, with narrow margins keeping the ball from the back of Thibaut Courtois’s net.The Belgian goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny striker Patrik Schick, while Aleksandar Kolarov whistled a thunderous drive inches wide.Madrid’s biggest moment of luck came just before half-time when Turkish striker Cengiz Under somehow contrived to blast the ball over an open goal from six yards out when it came to him on a plate. The worst miss the Champions League will see in this season, perhaps in any.At half-time it felt like Madrid were lucky to go in level with the game somehow goalless, but Solari’s side showed character after the break.Courtois was alert between the sticks and some smart saves from the goalkeeper repaid Madrid’s faith in him this summer and shows that he can buy time for Los Blancos while they soul search.What Solari and Madrid fans will take heart from was how Madrid survived Roma’s onslaught and showed determination to keep attacking to force a breakthrough.Even though their first goal came from terrible defending by Federico Fazio, Gareth Bale took his goal well in the 47th minute.Real Madrid celebrating Roma Champions LeagueThe Welshman has not been at his best this season and this was an important contribution to show Solari that he can make a difference for his team.As we have seen with Isco – cut from the squad – and Marcos Llorente, who impressed in midfield after finally being given a chance, Solari is looking for solutions, so it’s important for even the big names to prove their worth.Bale was key again for the second goal, looping a cross to the back post which Karim Benzema knocked into Lucas Vazquez’s path, and the winger obligingly finished from close range.It was Madrid’s best move thus far and started a period of dominance that saw them shred Roma’s defence numerous times in the final half hour, even though they did not add to their lead.This is the dangerous, almost brutal Madrid attack that Solari wants, playing with confidence and no fear.The coach must find a way to bring this attitude into matches on smaller stages, in La Liga, and get his team to play with it from the start, not only when they already have the bit between their teeth.last_img read more