One of the cliches in football is that it can be a “game of two halves”, and at the moment the Real Madrid side which will play Juventus in Turin on Tuesday night is a team of two halves.
One half of the team has shown the ability to play at speed and take rivals to pieces on the counter attack. Led by Cristiano Ronaldo and ably assisted in recent games by Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, this half of Real Madrid scored seven goals against Sevilla and put three past Rayo Vallecano in 48 minutes Saturday, reports Xinhua.
Ronaldo has started the season in unstoppable form and appears to have taken recent jokes made against him by FIFA president Sepp Blatter personally by scoring five goals in those two matches.
Benzema has recovered the scoring touch that appeared to have deserted him and Bale has enjoyed the space he has been granted by two hapless defences in recent games.
However, if the attacking half of Real Madrid has been unstoppable, the defence has been unrecognizable as chaos has reigned in the back line.
Sevilla may have lost 3-7 in the Bernabeu a week ago, but they created as many chances as Real Madrid and on another night the result could have been different.
Rayo also created chances against Madrid Saturday, coming back from 0-3 down to score two penalties and with better finishing, a less than magnificent display from Diego Lopez in the Madrid goal and a referee with the courage to send off Madrid defender Dani Carvajal, the side whose budget is around one percent that of Real Madrid’s could have taken a point from the game.
What must have worried Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is the way his experienced defenders appeared to panic every time they were forced into action and he will look for Rafael Varene and Alvaro Arbeloa to impose more discipline in Turin.
Marcelo will start at left back with Fabio Coentrao awaiting the result of a scan on a badly twisted ankle, which could sideline him for Portugal’s forthcoming World Cup play off games against Sweden.
Ancelotti knows that despite a narrow 1-2 defeat in the Bernabeu that Juventus will not offer the same defensive frailties as Sevilla and Rayo and that unless his side can keep it tight, they will lose their 100 percent record in Europe.
For that reason expect Xabi Alonso to make his second start after recovering from a pelvic problem, while Sami Khedira should also provide more midfield stability, with either Isco or Luka Modric also in a three-man block in the middle of the park.
Madrid are all but assured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League but after two thrilling but anarchic displays they need to show they have what it takes to be able to mix it with the big boys in Europe and that is why Tuesday’s game is so important.