Even though Real Madrid beat Deportivo 3-0, it was far from straight forward as the Romanian striker Florian Andone giving the Madrid defenders a difficult time all game.
He was incapable of finding the back of the net however, even from a penalty. Isco in particular, and Bale were the driving forces behind the Madrid victory.
Highlight of the game was certainly Casemiro’s goal however as Madrid displayed perfect patience, ball circulation and composure for the goal as all 11 players got involved in the attack.
Better times lay ahead for Pepe Mel’s side and Zidane’s march on having scored in 69 consecutive games, even if Sergio Ramos did pick up his 23rd red card of his career.
In the opening 5 minutes of the match, it seemed as though Madrid were going to cruise their way to victory against their opponents at the Riazor as Madrid dominated the ball early on.
It was Depor however, who created the best opening chances in the form of their Romanian striker Andone. His first 2 efforts were both saved by Kaylor Navas in goal for Real Madrid.
The battle between Andone and Sergio Ramos was one of the highlights of the match, particularly in the first half as the two very competitive individuals clashed (fairly) several times.
In the first half hour, the link up play on the left hand side for Madrid was most impressive where Marcelo, Modric and Isco connected well. Isco was given pretty much a free role, as he was often found on the right hand side of play also.
Zidane clearly has confidence and trust in the Spaniard to give him such freedom. Most of the play went through Isco at some point of each attack.
Isco’s freedom was made easier by the fact they had 4 v 3 in the middle of the park. This also contributed to the dominance of possession in midfield for the Spanish and European champions. It simply allowed at least one Madrid midfielder to be free at all times – usually in the form of Isco.
Deportivo players stood (incorrectly) looking for an offside following Modric’s shot on target, which was spilled by ex-Barca goalkeeper Ruben out to Benzema, who clipped it into the path of Gareth Bale who tucked it away comfortably on the 20 minute mark. This was Bale’s 6 goal in his 5 games against the Galician side. The Welshman has also become the first player in Real Madrid’s history to score the first goal of the season 3 years in a row.
With Real Madrid dominating possession around the midfield, Pepe Mel clearly instructed his team to allow Madrid have the ball and create chances on counter attacks by attempting to get Andone of the end of such attacks.
Casemiro scored the second goal following some great play by Isco and Marcelo, where he crossed it low to the back post where his fellow Brazilian tucked the ball away. There were a total of 44 passes before Casemiro put the ball in the back of the Deportivo net – the longest build up to a goal since the 2005/06 season. The move also involved all 11 Real Madrid players in the build up.
Marcelo attacking threat is pretty obvious for Real Madrid and was one of the biggest reasons for them being so successful on the pitch last season. Since the start of last season, no other defender has registered more assists than the Brazilian with 11.
2 goals in 6 minutes for Madrid, showed how much the Deportivo defence was asleep, as they didn’t pick up Bale or Casemiro for either goal.
Nacho was once again, solid in defence. He was very consistent last season when played ahead of Varane and Pepe, with some within Madrid circles wanting to see the Spaniard being a regular starter. His positional sense is excellent, he is comfortable with both the ball on the floor and in the air. Once he recovers the ball, he gets it circulating right away and keeps it simple.
Early on in the second half, Isco broke down the left hand side for Real Madrid and played a ball across which was intended for Gareth Bale, Ruben was first to the ball however. Isco was once again proving a real thorn in the side for Deportivo all night long.
At the start of the second half, Madrid did not play as they were winning 2-0. They applied strong pressure on the Deportivo players, which made it difficult for them to come out from the back with the ball.
Sergio Ramos received a yellow card around the 55th minute of the match after pushing Fabian Schar in the face. One could very easily have viewed it as warranting a straight red. Part of Ramos’ game is that he plays on the edge. Incidents such as this can arise from time to time. The Madrid and Spanish captain enjoys such battles however and often plays his best under such circumstances. For the remainder of the match following this incident, the Riazor supporters whistled and booed Ramos every time he got on the ball.
The third goal was tucked away by Toni Kroos following some one touch play from Benzema and Isco. The German’s strike was deflected off Schar’s boot but looked like Ruben would have been unable to save it in any case.
Guilherme, along with Andone and Bakkali (before he was taken off injured) were the standout performers for Deportivo. Guilherme hit the crossbar shortly after Kroos putting the Madrid side up 3-0.
For the last 25 minutes, Real Madrid largely remained control of the match from play, bar another 2 Kaylor Navas save from Andone. The Romanian put in a sterling performance and effort for a player who was a fitness concern in the build-up. He was unable to get his goal however, even from the penalty spot where the Costa Rican international touched the shot around the post, where it was heading in any regard.
Zidane regularly makes a change at this point in the match when the game becomes a little stretched and brings on Vazquez or Asensio to add energy and freshness to the team. This is precisely what he did once again, by taking off Isco and Bale as well as the goalscorer Casemiro to give Marcos Llorente his debut for the club his father (Paco) and great uncle (Gento) played for.
Just as it looked like there may not have been any time for more drama in the match, Sergio Ramos received a harsh second yellow card for a rather tame tackle on Baorja Valle. It will go down in the history books as an unwanted record for the Madrid captain as it is his 23rd red card of his career.
Pepe Mel’s side overall will accept this defeat and will not be too worried about losing to the defending champions. Losing to the likes of Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona is not only accepted but expected. It is not these games Pepe Mel will rely upon to boost their points tally for the end of the season.
Andone’s display tonight gave a clear indication as to why Burnley are considering triggering his €30 million buy-out clause at the moment. After scoring nearly 20 goals last season, he offered Real Madrid the biggest threat throughout this match also. Such threat, ensured Madrid did not rest on their laurels also during the match. The one concern with the Romanian is that he isn’t that prolific in front of goal and really displayed that side of his game tonight as well as all the positives.
Holding onto Andone and adding Lucas Perez back into the squad will be at the forefront of the Deportivo managers mind before the transfer market ends. Should he be able to do this, there will undoubtedly be much better outings for the Galician side. Madrid have started the season as they would have wanted to; keeping a clean sheet and continuing their consecutive scoring run to 69.