Real Madrid toured Germany and performed better against Cadiz and Shakhtar than against Borussia Manchengladbach. The buildup mechanisms were solid, and despite some issues with defending Monchengladbach’s talented attackers on the counter, Real’s replacement defense proved more solid than last week. However, the team coached by the great Marco Rose-Rene Maria duo is a stronger and more talented opponent than Cadiz and Shakhtar. It wasn’t a bad game by Zindan’s men, but against a quality team from Monchengladbach, winning “not bad” is not enough.
Let’s talk about some of the major technical and statistical aspects of this game.
The power of a brief deep block
In this game, Zidane must have started the same group of players who beat Barcelona well over the weekend, but they struggled to make good chances this time around. The big difference is that the Germans have a better drill and a much shorter defensive unit Blagrana.
In the week-to-week madness of the Bundesliga, Rose prepares to become more aggressive in suppressing his team. Against Real, he opted for a deeper defensive block instead, preferring a shorter distance between his lines and not giving way to Real’s attackers. Monchengladbach were only occasionally pressed, during goal kicks or in open play situations when Real’s defenders passed the ball all the way to Cortois.
By the 70th minute, Real had attacked as Manchengladbach had wanted. They could not enter the German defense center, so they always had to advance on wings. And when they reached the final third, the Monchengladbach defenders tracked Real’s fullbacks and wings so well that their only option was to enter the box.
The importance of shot quality vs. shot quantity
During the first half, Real produced an astonishing 11 shots, but how many of them actually were Good? As pointed out by Om Arvind, only 2 of them were dangerous opportunities to play openly.
5 shots from outside the box, 2 Vincius shots intercepted shots inside the box, Benzema and Remos header from the corner, Benzema chance from Lucas long ball, and Asensio shot from that narrow angle.
Many of these were not dangerous. https://t.co/1a0riZbZFF
– About (ਵੀmvisports) October 27, 2020
The best way to summarize the first half of the game was: Real had 11 shots by the end of the game while Manchengladbach had only one goal – a goal.
Minchengladbach’s in-depth defense meant that he created fewer chances than usual, but his goal was to create a higher level of probability than reactions. When Thuram scored the second goal in the 57th minute, his team scored only 2 out of 4 shots! Yes, you need a lot of luck to get points with that skill, but also personal brilliance. Marcus Thuram’s brilliant runs and finish, Alasen Plaina’s good holdup game and his brilliant pass that led to the first goal. It felt like Minshengladbach’s attacker’s teeth were missing Real’s attackers, which takes us to the next point …
Where do Real’s struggles in the final third come from?
As our colleague Matt Wiltsay put it, Real’s main problem in this game has been the only major problem of the last 2+ seasons: once the team reaches the final third, it creates opportunities to score dangerous goals.
While Real can certainly use better movement and use tactics in this area, doing something in the final third usually relies more on individual ingenuity than strategies. This theory is best illustrated by Thierry Henry’s famous analysis of Guardiola’s Barcelona moves.
Henry explains that Pep – usually a control freak – gives his players a lot of freedom to reach the final third. “My job is to take you to the last third, your job is to get it done,” Guardiola told his players.
I draw this analysis from Henry because I want to emphasize it Strategies to improve Real in the final third can only go so far. If, say, Benzema or Vinix are having a bad day, getting those good shots and goals will be a stepping stone no matter how well the team plays. Right now, I’m looking at three ways to improve on the final third with the current team:
- The team’s most talented attacking players, Hazard and Edgard, return from injury and manage to return to their normal level.
- Essencio, Vinix, Rodrigo suddenly “jumps” into world-class attacking output
- Making Jovi great again, who doesn’t seem ready to do Zidane
In other words, improvements in this area often boil down to individual players improving or successfully recovering from injuries. Funnily enough, the last 20 minutes of the game gave us a good example of how to improve on the final third through offensive playmaker talent …
Madrid ć and Hazard’s creative influence on the game
After another Minchengladbash goal, Real struggled to react. The German side enjoyed a 10-minute counter-attack against the increasingly frustrated and inconsistent Real. It could have led exactly 3-0 if it weren’t for luck and a great courtesy.
That’s how Modrey and Hazard came to be, and the pair took creative control of the game. In the last 20 minutes of the game, Hazard touched more than any of Real’s attackers (24) and Modria touched more than Real’s midfielders (36). The heatmap shows which areas of the pitch they worked on.
In the left half, the Belgian became the center of attention, with teammates giving him the ball and connecting him to a dribble or a pass with a teammate.
As he took the place of the cross, Modrius also came out from the left. However, as the minutes passed by the Croatian masters worked more freely, crossing the full width of the pitch. This gave Hazard more space to do his work on the left side and helped Modrico make some passing combinations on the right side with Valverde and Lucas Vazquez. A cross from Modrias on the right is the one that finally took the second goal that tied the game.