. Eight Tactical points from Valencia v Real Madrid 23/01/13
posted by Paul Wilkes (Editor) on 2013-01-24 08:00:00

Editor Paul Wilkes looks at this second leg of the Copa del Rey, with Real Madrid leading 2-0. 

Pereira better suited to shackling Ronaldo

João Pereira loves to get forward, despite being caught out in one incident, he mainly kept Cristiano Ronaldo relatively quiet in comparison to last weekends match. In the first leg, the Portuguese international and Pablo Piatti were able to overload Marcelo with little protection from Ronaldo. He was sorely missed in the league encounter, where Ricardo Costa was at right-back, the opening four goals all came from that area. Costa returned to central defence for this one, but his decision to attempt a flying interception was punished in the opening goal, as it was for Real Madrid's third on Sunday night. Costa at right-back against Ronaldo was reminiscent of Liverpool's Martin Skrtel occupying the same position against an equally quick Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur last season.

Aggressive pressing from Valencia in the early stages

Being two goals down on aggregate naturally meant that Valencia had to come flying out of the traps. They pressed Real Madrid and allowed them little time on the ball, overall their work-rate and intensity were much improved. Working as a team they closed down quickly, having eleven players on the pitch that worked hard and looked adequate in their individual positions. By half-time Valencia had three yellow cards, which was further testament to this.

Set-pieces causing concern for Real Madrid

It's not the first time that corners and free-kicks have been Madrid's achilles heel. With the forced changes at centre-back only adding to the uncertainty. With the physical presence of Nelson Valdez causing problems, he was surprisingly picked up by Xabi Alonso. A header from the striker an early warning for Iker Casillas, it was though his own defender that caused him the most discomfort. Following another corner the captain completely missed the cross, only for Álvaro Arbeloa to strike his hand, the referee peculiarly gave the away side a foul. Antonio Adán came off the bench to replace Casillas, who later was at fault for Tino Costa's free-kick in entirely different circumstances.

Valencia's wide players track back

Ernesto Valverde admitted prior to the match that he got his selection wrong in the 5-0 defeat, in that game his wide players in the 4-2-3-1 were Jonas and Pablo Piatti. The Brazilian continually looked to drift in between the lines, but that meant little protection for winger Andrés Guardado playing at left-back. On the other side Piatti was a little better, though still failing to track Fábio Coentrão effectively. For this one Jonathan Viera helped out his right-back more consistently, whilst Guardado having played the position for the last two matches was content to drop deeper and help his team defend.

Ruiz sits in front of the defence

The decision to drop Fernando Gago from the squad entirely, highlighted the problems Valencia had when dealing with Los Blancos counter attacks last time-out. Valverde decided to play centre-back Víctor Ruiz in the holding midfield role and it was relatively successful. Comfortable in carrying the ball, a clever passer and his natural defending ability, helped shore up the defence. At times he was able to drop in between Adil Rami and Ricardo Costa, becoming an extra centre-back. When he kept the defensive midfield shape, he occupied space rather than man-marking Mesut Özil.

Alonso to Benzema

With Madrid unable to make the quick one-twos that were so rewarding on their last visit to the Mestalla, Xabi Alonso looked to hit his striker early. On a couple of occasions the well positioned Los Che defence intercepted the ball, then on the opening goal it was the former Liverpool midfielders feign of shot that gave him the opportunity to pick out Karim Benzema, the mistake by Ricardo Costa allowed the Frenchman to coolly finish and essentially end the tie.

Madrid move to 4-4-1 when down to ten men

After Coentrão was sent off, José Mourinho'steam moved to an expected 4-4-1. Nacho entered the pitch for Özil and Arbeloa crossed sides to become the left-back. The significant change, though was further forward as the previously inverted-wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Ángel Di María also swapped wings. This was to allow the team natural width in attack and an out ball when under pressure. Though Ronaldo particularly often found himself in more central areas as he craved to be more involved.

Madrid lacking discipline

You could argue that Fábio Coentraõ was a little unfortunate to receive a 2nd yellow card for handball, as he was beginning to turn his back, however, his arm was moving towards the ball. Ángel Di María's decision to kick out at Pereira over an innocuous challenge, was crazy to say the least. There were minutes left and Real Madrid were comfortable. Even down to nine, Xabi Alonso was gesticulating with Pereira (who got under the skin of every Madrid player very easily).

FT: Valencia 1-1 Real Madrid (1-3 agg) - Tino Costa - Benzema


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