Sunday, 15 January 2012

Mourinho plays ping pong with Coentrao...but Marcelo and Benzema are the winners.

Malaga 0 v 1 Real Madrid - Copa Del Rey 5th round,  2nd Leg 

Just a quickie on the recent Copa Del Rey cup tie.Leading 3-2 from the first leg at the Bernabeu, Real went into this game with Ozil, Benzema and Marcelo on the bench. Kaka, Coentrao and Pepe all found a starting place. 

Madrid lined up 4-3-3 on paper but quickly turned into a 3-4-3 in attack. Malaga were essentially 4-5-1 but in attack they were 4-3-3.

Real starting line up 4-3-3

The first half was generally a tight affair with Malaga competing well in midfield
and acheiving some early success in wide positions, from Monreal and Eliseu.

Mourinho was concerned, captured on camera bemoaning his sides contribution and instructing his players from the technical area.

Alonso, Diarra and Khadira were playing narrow to allow Arbeloa and Coentrao forward into wide positions but apart from some early Diarra, Arbeloa and Kaka triangular like exchanges and the odd Khadira, Coentrao and Ronaldo exchange, Madrid were lacking penetration. Add to that an off colour Ronaldo and Kaka, a Malaga five man midfield getting behind the ball, the game had 0-0 strongly looming.

Ozil came on 2 mins from half time after Khadira was forced off with injury.

Enter Mourinho at half time...Like he did in the 1st leg, he was not willing to accept his teams inefficiencies and Kaka made way for Marcelo. Coentrao moved to right side of the midfield three and Marcelo slotted in at the left of the back four, but as usual in a wing back fashion.

Real lineup after half-time

Again Malaga started brightly but Madrid's defence was resolute, with Ramos and Pepe solid as a rock for the whole game. Particulary at set pieces where Madrid were exposed in the 1st leg and lost goals as a result.

On 60 minutes, Coentrao moved across the park to left side of the midfield three but the breakthrough was still not  materialising. So when Willy Caballero pulled off a great save on 63 minutes from a Ronaldo header it was looking like "one of those nights".

Coentrao moves to left of the midfield three

Coentrao completed his "ping pong" by swapping with Marcelo; Mourinho enforcing this change by physically speaking to Coentrao and Marcelo on the side line during a break in play.

Seba Fernandez was replaced on 66 mins by Rondon who joined Ruud Van Nistelrooy up top. So Malaga were now 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 when Eliseu or Isco joined the attack. Mallaga had to force the issue now in search of a goal to swing the tie in their favour. Almost instantly this move appeared to be undone when Higuain had the ball in the net on 67 minutes. But he was rightly ruled offside, although it should be mentioned he took his diving header very well.

It was to be Higuain's final contribution as he was replaced by Benzema a minute later. Coupled with Marcelo's promotion to midfield, this proved to be the decisive move from Mourinho.
Coentrao completes his "ping pong" & Benzema enters the fray

Three mintutes after Benzema's introduction he had the ball in net, albeit helped by Cabellero.

Ozil and Marcelo broke at pace from midfield after Alono's clearance. Marcelo's contribution was key as he ran parallell with Ozil who had possesion. 35 yards from goal, Marcelo made a great run across Ozil prompting the covering defender to move a few strides inside, therefore creating  the space for Benzema on the edge of the box. Benzema actually "fluffed" his attempt to open his body up and bend to the far corner, but Cabellero who had been excellent got it all wrong and the ball squirmed through him and Real took the lead. 
Bezema Goal, supported by Marcelo

Real then without much of note saw the game out with Ramos and Pepe ensuring no slip ups. Madrid progressed to the quarter finals to set up another "El Classico".

Mourinho has to be credited here for his tactical changes, especially the switch of Marcelo. Marcelo's pace allowed him to advance quickly with Benzema and Ozil and his intelligent run was enough to create space for Benzema to pull the trigger and hit the target.

The Coentrao "ping pong" was a little strange but I think he was simply trying to mix things up to stimualte his team into action. Coentrao has a good engine and was certainly up and down the pitch, albeit to little effect at times. Regardless, Mourinho finally came out the winner for his persistence and constant communication to the team of his intentions.

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