Real Madrid pay the price for not moving in the winter transfer market

Real Madrid pay the price for not moving in the winter transfer market

Real Madrid suffered as expected in the derby, which finished 1-1 after a late goal from Marcos Llorente cancelled out Brahim’s early opener.

The image of Carvajal banging his fists on the ground after Llorente’s goal was the best expression of Madrid’s aerial impotence in the derby. In addition to that late equaliser, an earlier disallowed Savic goal also came as a direct consequence of the red-and-white domination of the Bernabéu’s roofed sky. Just a day after the close of the winter transfer window, Madrid turned up to the Derbi Madrileño with 1-and-a-half centre-backs.

Ancelotti started with Nacho, the fourth choice in Ancelotti’s squad, and Carvajal, 173 centimetres of lion-hearted spirit who had played only 15 minutes at centre-back over two years ago. The club’s decision to not sign a central defender in either of the two available windows came to bite them on the behind without having to wait very long at all.

Ancelotti wanted a centre-back in January

The ‘here’s what you could have won’ prize presentation for Real Madrid was, in fact, wearing the colours of Atlético Madrid. Gabriel Paulista had recently landed in the capital to sign for Simeone’s side: he was precisely the profile (both a temporary and low cost solution) that could have been explored at the Bernabéu. However, the decision to stand still came from the top. Ancelotti was more than willing to welcome in a new face for this sensitive and injury-depleted area, but Madrid opted to take savings to the extreme.

The piggy bank is not under wraps with the focus on a galáctico in July: neither foreign options nor the use of a youth-team player were se onthesportsideal either. With Nacho and Rüdiger, albeit with a bruise the size of Bavaria, Madrid bid farewell to the winter market, a second opportunity to make amends for deficits carried over from the summer. The club were happy, it seems, to bat away even the most unexpected situations between the two windows, such as Alaba’s cruciate fracture.

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The anger was clear to see at full-time, with Real Madrid giving up all three points.OSCAR DEL POZOAFP

Real Madrid pay the price for imprudence

And so, to the game. Only Nacho managed to win an aerial duel in the backline, but it proved to be worthless as he failed to challenge for the ball that Llorente took advantage of in the 93rd minute, a moment which originated from a very high ball into the area in which Memphis hit more in hope than conviction.

The only other aerial battle won by a Madrid player was Camavinga, one of players (along with Valverde) selected by Ancelotti to sit in between Nacho and Carvajal in defensive moments. Madrid gave away six headed shots against Atlético: the highest tally of their season along with the game against Sevilla game in October, which also finished 1-1. Curiously, Carvajal scored with a header in that game.

Atlético took advantage of Real Madrid’s weakened defence

The constant peppering of aerial balls from Los Rojiblancos was a constant tactic of Simeone’s team. Before the disallowed goal, in an almost identical corner in the 23rd minute, Savic almost scored a goal that would have been legal. In the 35th minute, it was Saúl who generated another scoring chance with a header. Atleti, who knocked out Madrid at the Metropolitano with headed goals from Morata, this time even had a clearer path on goal in front of a terribly depleted defensive line.

It is a problem that does not go away now the derbi is over, although Ancelotti preferred to make the best of a sticky situation: “what happened was a special game, two players who could have played as central defenders [Rüdiger, injured; Tchouaméni, suspended] weren’t available. The next game we will have them both back,” said Carletto when asked why he did not go to the market for a central defender in the January transfer window.

1-1. Toca de cabeza Memphis Depay, el balón se queda en el aire y ante la indecisión de Dani Carvajal y Nacho Fernández, Marcos Llorente, con un potente testarazo, supera a Andriy Lunin.

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Marcos Llorente was allowed a free header in the dying moments of the Madrid derby, sealing a point for Atlético.ISABEL INFANTESREUTERS

Real Madrid need their defenders back quickly

The two solutions for Saturday’s game against Girona, a key match for the future of the LaLiga title race, are Tchouaméni, who has now served his suspension, and Rüdiger, who is expected to recover from his injury and be fit to play. Even so, it is an improvement that allows Madrid merely to continue living on the edge: Camavinga is now suspended and will miss the game against Míchel’s side at the Bernabéu.

Real Madrid’s fixtures this month come thick and fast: as mentioned, they take on LaLiga title challengers Girona at the weekend before a UEFA Champions League away fixture against RB Leipzig. After that, they’re back in action away at city rivals Rayo Vallecano.


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