For Real, De­fence is the Best Form of At­tack

How a tac­ti­cally as­tute Zi­dane learned from Ben­itez’s mis­takes and helped his team pip Barca 2-1

The Economic Times - - Sports - Richard Martin

Blood­ied by a 4-0 thrash­ing Barcelona handed them l a s t N o v e mb e r, Real Madrid's tac­ti­cal changes in Satur­day's El Cla­sico were richly re­warded when they ended the home side's record-break­ing 39-game un­beaten run with a 2-1 vic­tory at the Nou Camp. Coach Zi nedi ne Zida ne lea r ned the lessons of pre­de­ces­sor Rafael Ben­itez's dis­as­trous tac­tics in the last en­counter and em­ployed de­fen­sive mid­fielder Casemiro in favour of more at­tack-minded play­ers, opt­ing in­stead to sit and wait for Barcelona. "We had a game plan, we know we've got speed on the counter-at­tack, so we used that to our ad­van­tage," Madrid for­ward Gareth Bale said on Satur­day af­ter late strikes from Karim Ben­zema and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo can­celled out Ger­ard Pique's opener on 56 min­utes. "We know ob­vi­ously if you at­tack them they're not the best de­fen­sive team in the world. They're great at at­tack­ing, so we worked on that in train­ing and it's paid off."

Be­fore kick­off, Barcelona staged an emo­tional trib­ute to late player and coach Jo­han Cruyff, who had an ir­re­versible inf lu­ence on the phi­los­o­phy of at­tack­ing football with which the team re­main as­so­ci­ated with today. Coach Luis En­rique and cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta had talked of their de­sire to give the Dutch­man, who suc­cumbed to cancer at the age of 68 last month, the per­fect trib­ute on the pitch by beat­ing Madrid with a dis­play of at­tack­ing football.

How­ever, they were can­celled out by French­man Zi­dane's as­tute game plan and none of their po­tent front three of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi or Ney­mar were able to demon­strate their usual at­tack­ing f lair. "Casemiro played a fun­da­men­tal role," Zi­dane said.

"The goal scor­ers made the dif­fer­ence but above all, we put in a huge per­for­mance de­fen­sively against play­ers who can cause you dam­age if you give them any space. I en­joyed see­ing my play­ers help each other out." Madrid de­fender Marcelo added that the re­sult was a re­ward for his side's abil­ity to re­sist the temp­ta­tion to mir­ror Barcelona's at­tack­ing style of play

"Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world and we man­aged to beat them by play­ing well and know­ing how to suf­fer, be­cause we were pa­tient," the Brazil­ian said. "We owed our sup­port­ers some­thing af­ter the last game (the 4-0 de­feat in Novem­ber). A team like this al­ways has to be at the top and we gave ev­ery­thing to make our fans happy." Madrid's t ac­tics were hai led by French news­pa­per L'Equipe with the head­line 'Su­per Zi­dane', and Span­ish daily Marca's front cover praised the team's spirit, say­ing "Los Blan­cos didn't give up and con­quered the Nou Camp".

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.