Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0: Three talking points
Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0: Three talking points as Karim Benzema's first-half goal hands the home side victory
Madrid’s quality of players prove too much for Liverpool
Real Madrid have been in imperious form of late. They currently lie top of La Liga having scored 37 goals in just 10 games. They are on a run of 12 straight wins in all competitions and much of this is down to the goal scoring prowess of their attacking players. Eyebrows were raised when Florentino Perez sanctioned the sale of Angel Di-Maria, however, James Rodriguez was brought in from AS Monaco for £63m and has been a revelation. He has slotted seamlessly into the team and has already registered four goals and as many assists so far this season. Questions have been asked about the midfield partnership of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. There is an argument to suggest that they lack the required discipline to shield the defence. However, their range of passing is exceptional and they both created numerous chances from a deep lying position. Kroos had an astonishing pass completion rate of 97 per cent while Modric played some great through balls which caught out Liverpool’s defence a few times. There was also some fantastic interplay between the attackers as they continued to interchange positions. They also played short intricate one-twos between each other to disorientate the defenders. This is exactly what happened for the first goal, as Isco put Marcelo in behind who picked out Benzema to finish off a good move.
Rodgers starting line-up shows where priorities lie
In contrast to Madrid, Liverpool have endured a torrid start to the season and currently find themselves in seventh position. It will worry Brendan Rodgers on the basis that if he wants to improve his squad in the future, then Champions League qualification for next season is imperative. As a result, the league game against Chelsea this weekend has taken priority, and Rodgers starting line-up reflected this. High profile names such as Steven Gerrard and Mario Balotelli were omitted, while fringe players such as Fabio Borini and Lazar Markovic were drafted in. The Liverpool manager has taken a calculated risk knowing that they have Champions League games to come against more inferior opposition. Both Ludogorets and Basel can be beaten, but it will frustrate fans that have travelled to the Bernabeu to see their ‘B team’ take to the field against Madrid. It can be argued that Rodgers conceded the game before a ball was even kicked and that is exactly how the match panned out as Los Blancos beat the Reds quite comfortably. The defence has been a problem all season and Martin Skrtel again did very little to impress his manager. He will be thankful to Kolo Toure, who had a very good game, but the Slovenian looked uncomfortable in another nervy performance. Early on he made a few rash clearances and didn’t seem to want possession of the ball as he kept passing it backwards. He nearly cost his team a goal as a poor first touch allowed Benzema to take advantage and Ronaldo nearly scored from his pass.
Some of the fringe players impress even in defeat
Even though Liverpool lost, there was some encouragement as some of the fringe players showcased what they can offer. Toure has often been ridiculed since joining from Manchester City on a free transfer. He has made quite a few comical errors and was looking like a mistake. But the game tonight showed that he still has something to offer. He made some brilliant interceptions and put his body on the line to block any shots on goal. One of them was outstanding as Cristiano Ronaldo cut inside only for the Ivorian to fling himself towards the ball and deflect it out of danger. Another positive from the game was the performance of Lucas Leiva. He is often criticised for being very one dimensional but he shielded the defence well today. He made a number of successful tackles and recycled the ball well as he passed it to the more flamboyant players. It will give Rodgers something to think about when he chooses his starting line-up to face Chelsea at the weekend.
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