Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My thoughts on the Real Madrid-Malaga match.

That draw feels like a loss. My thoughts on the Real Madrid-Malaga match.
by rick olivares pic from the associated press and me.

The Real Madrid-Malaga match began with a classy show of support by Los Merengues for Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba and Barcelona’s Eric Abidal.

And as soon as the match kicked off, Madrid’s Karim Benzema’s clever flick nearly put the home team ahead but Malaga’s Willy Caballero hauled down the ball. Los Boquerones immediately responded with an attempt of their own and clearly, Manuel Pellegrini’s side wanted to say that the 4-0 loss at La Rosaleda nearly four months ago was a memory.

Malaga midfielder Santi Cazorla promised that they’d didn’t venture to Spain’s capital to play the role of foils but to come in as true foes. After all, they Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani club was riding the crest of a three-game winning match. They were out to grab points in hopes of overtaking Levante that was in fourth place of the La Liga standings.

The match was interesting for its implications. Real Madrid was on an 11-match winning streak and needed more points to pad against late-charging Barcelona. Only this wasn’t the same Malaga team they faced last October 22.

Los Boquerones harried Mesut Ozil, Kaka, and Xabi Alonso in the early stages as Malaga incredibly had dominated ball possession. Lassana Diarra committed two errors in the early goings but Malaga was unable to punish Madrid.

I also thought that because of the aggressiveness of Malaga, they forced Madrid to abandon that high defensive line.

Benzema, in his year of revival with Real Madrid accounted for three early chances. And in the 35th minute, with Malaga’s defenders mesmerized by Cristiano Ronaldo, the Frenchman snuck behind the defense to head home CR7’s cross past Caballero.

The second half saw Ozil and Kaka create chances for their teammates. Ozil playing well in spots, hustled to chase the ball from going out of bounds and was able to send a well-placed cross inside the box. It was on target but Benzema could not finish.

Ronaldo had an opportunity to double Madrid’s lead but Caballero read where the Portuguese winger was going to place the ball. Caballero just got his fingertips on the ball that was sufficient enough to turn it away. Madrid had 18 shots on goal to the mere five of Malaga. But the latter made good on one of five chances.

I was somewhat surprised that late in the second half, Mourinho pulled out Ozil and Kaka for Jose Maria Callejon and Esteban Granero. Callejon had some chances to score but I thought that he should have put in another defender. Malaga in the meantime used their substitutions to put in offensive players from Seba Fernandez, Eliseu and Ruud van Nistelrooy. A foul by Granero outside the box – a call by referee Aysa Gamez that I disagree with – and so late in the game proved to be crucial.

Cazorla’s stunning free kick -- the first one to clear any wall by either side all match long – darted towards the far post and dipped right in as Madrid keeper Iker Casillas flailed away. What was supposed to be a sure win for Mourinho and Real Madrid ended up in a disappointing 1-1 draw. Even worse, Barcelona, by virtue of their win, saw them nick two points from what was a 10-point lead prior to this match.

Madrid is still atop with a 23-2-2 record that is good for 71 points. Barcelona has 63 points from a 19-6-2 record.

Quite honestly, I was surprised that Malaga owned the ball for 53% of the match. But I will give them credit for battling the home team tough. 

A picture I took of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas (as well as the rest of Real Madrid) show their support for downed football players) during the match offtube at AKTV.
Chelsea's Gary Cahill, a former teammate of Fabrice Muamba, shows the message on his shirt after scoring a goal in the FA Cup.

No comments:

Post a Comment