Real Madrid suffered another major setback in their quest to retain their La Liga title with a 3 – 2 loss away to Malaga. They now find themselves 16 points behind Barcelona and just 2 points ahead of Malaga. Here’s how the players of both teams fared.
Man of the match – Joaquin
Willy Caballero – 7
Pulled off a couple of great saves when called upon, and didn’t have too much to do overall, thanks to good defending from his team. Couldn’t have done much about either goal, as he was wrong-footed on the own goal, and had no protection on the other.
Jesus Gamez – 7.5
Mixed defense with attack in perfect proportion, not allowing Ronaldo to get beyond him on the touchline while causing Arbeloa major concerns up front. Had a great cross which led to Malaga’s second goal.
Sergio Sanchez – 7
Stood up well to the Madrid attack, playing ahead of Welligton. Unfortunate to have the ball deflected off him for an own goal, but credit to Benzema for not giving up.
Martin Demichelis – 8
One of the best players on the pitch, with rock solid defending. A couple of perfectly timed last ditch tackles denied Ronaldo an opportunity to go through on goal, and saved his team from trouble.
Nacho Monreal – 7
A slightly more conservative presence than the other full back, but saw out his defensive duties to the dot. An important clearance off the line in the first half kept his team from going behind.
Ignacio Camacho – 6
An average performance from the holding midfielder. Gave away the ball cheaply to Ozil late in the game for Real’s second goal, but was spared the blushes as his team saw out the match.
Portillo – 6.5
Kept the attack ticking over with neat, crisp passing. Could have done better with a couple of attempts from good positions though.
Isco – 7
Another lively, skilful performance. Pulled the Madrid defence one way and another at will with assured possession, and tricky feet. Scored a well taken goal, which Adan could have done nothing about.
Eliseu – 6.5
Stuck well to his task of playing wide, and caused the Madrid full backs all sort of problems, especially Essien. Sent some dangerous crosses into the box, but made no telling contribution.
Joaquin – 8.5
Too hot to handle for the Madrid defence, as he popped up in different areas up front, causing mayhem. Set up all three of Malaga’s goals, even though his shooting was a little below his usual standards.
Javier Saviola – 6.5
Occupied the Madrid defence well, creating space for the creative players behind him to operate. Didn’t have many chances to create something himself though.
Roque Santa Cruz (Saviola 65?) – 8
A typical striker’s performance from the Paraguayan, as an opportunistic goal and a well placed finish earned his side the win. Full of running, and an able replacement for Saviola.
Manuel Iturra (Portillo 70?) – 6
Calm in possession, and helped his team see out Madrid in the final minutes.
Seba Fernandez (Joaquin 83?) – 6
Sent on to shore up the defence, and did just that by keeping the Madrid attackers in front of him, and never letting them past.
Antonio Adan – 5
An off day for the ‘keeper, and unfortunately so, for he was under intense scrutiny, having been chosen to replace Casillas. Was beaten at his near post for Malaga’s third, and could have done better to parry away Joaquin’s attempt on Malaga’s second.
Alvaro Arbeloa – 5
Poor outing, like all other Madrid defenders. Was hemmed back, could not join attack and could not even prevent Malaga from getting behind him out wide.
Pepe – 4.5
Simply could not deal with the presence of Isco and Saviola. Vulnerable to opposition players with quick feet and failed to track the runs of Joaquin into the centre as well.
Sergio Ramos – 5
Did a better job of picking up runs than his central defensive partner, but could not stop Santa Cruz in spite of that. Not his usual composed self on the ball either, with poor distribution of the ball.
Michael Essien – 4
Seemed out of place at left back, and did very little to justify his selection in the team. Allowed Malaga to get past him with ease, both wide and on the inside.
Sami Khedira – 5
Made a couple of good forward runs, but wasted his chances to get something on the board. His defensive contribution was lacking, as usual, and battled in the wrong areas of the pitch.
Xabi Alonso – 4.5
Uncharacteristic performance from the former Liverpool man, as his team was overrun in midfield. Did his best to provide defensive cover, but his passing was not up to the usual standards.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 6.5
One of the better performers for Madrid, Ronaldo was his usual busy self at the attacking end of the pitch. Denied a free kick goal by Caballero’s good reflexes, and failed to make his 6 other attempts count as well.
Angel Di Maria – 6
Did little to provide much needed defensive cover, but was lively in attack. Combined well with Ronaldo on a couple of occasions, and was denied a chipped goal due to a last ditch clearance.
Mesut Ozil – 6.5
The only creative outlet for Real, and did no harm to his reputation. Created a few good chances that were missed, before seizing a loose ball and feeding Benzema for Real’s second.
Karim Benzema – 6.5
Only real contributions were on the two goals, as he showed great determination to cause the own goal, and then finished well when Ozil found his unmarked run into the box.
Jose Callejon (Arbeloa 58?) – 5
Made little difference, as Malaga continued to overrun Madrid’s defence. Had no scope to venture into attack at all.
Kaka (Di Maria 64?) – 5.5
Was neat in possession, but couldn’t do much better than Di Maria in providing cover for his defenders.
Luka Modric (Alonso 77?) – 5.5
Was more influential than Alonso with his passing, but came on when Malaga were looking to defend their lead. With a tight defence like Malaga’s, saw his passes come to nothing.
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