Saturday, March 15, 2008

Madrid stumble

Real Madrid failed to win at Riazor once again on Saturday night and saw their title hopes damaged following a 1-0 defeat to lowly Deportivo La Coruna.

Following a dire first half with few goalscoring opportunities for either side, Pepe's own goal on 57 minutes gave Deportivo a shock lead and Real were unable to react at a stadium in which they have not won in the league in any of the last 17 seasons.

With Ruud van Nistelrooy injured, Real coach Bernd Schuster handed a full debut in Madrid colours to Roberto Soldado alongside Raul up front in a 4-4-2 formation.

Deportivo, meanwhile, lined up with a defensive-minded 4-5-1 system to stifle the visitors.

And the home side's tactics worked well as Real enjoyed much of the first-half possession but were unable to create anything of note before the break.

Guti was forced deep by Deportivo's midfield duo of Sergio Gonzalez and Julian De Guzman, while Dutch pair Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe also had little influence from the flanks in a dire first 45 minutes.

With Robinho on the bench, it was hard to see from where Real's inspiration would come.

Other than a speculative long-range effort from the willing but disappointing Sneijder, the visitors looked very unlikely to break the deadlock.

Deportivo, despite their defensive formation, looked more dangerous and Christian Wilhelmsson almost got on the end of Angel Lafita's ball as half-time approached, but Iker Casillas gathered comfortably at the far post.

The second half also started slowly.

Deportivo, struggling to avoid relegation following a mediocre campaign, again looked content to sit back and absorb Real's pressure.

But Real did look to raise the tempo shortly afterwards with Raul dangerous up front.

No comments: