No need for Madridistas to panic

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

There were no excuses from the Real Madrid bench at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez last night. No cries of foul play, no cries of offside and no cries of an unjust 2-1 victory for Getafe against its bigger Madrid neighbors. Second-half goals from Valera and Abdelaziz Barrada stunned Los Blancos and left them five points behind title rivals Barcelona just two games in. Two games in, yet a crisis, apparently, is already in full swing at the Bernabeu.

Let's get one thing straight - Madrid was awful. The result was fair. While a 1-1 draw against Valencia was a slight disappointment on the opening day of the season, Jose Mourinho's men didn't play too badly. They didn't play to last season's high standard, but the performance wasn't one to be concerned about, especially against a side who will probably end up third, again, this season. This showing, just a matter of miles to the south of the Spanish capital, has set alarm bells ringing -- and rightly so.

"Real Madrid were bad," said Mourinho. It was an unacceptable game and, from what I had been analysing, I was not surprised. We totally deserved the defeat." He continued: "I do not want to speak with them [the players]. The only conclusion that I want is that they realise that it was more a deserved defeat for Real Madrid than a deserved win for Getafe."

Whether Mourinho had strong words with his players or not after the game, those kind of comments from the 'Special One' act as a good old-fashioned rollicking, relatively speaking. The Portuguese is usually one to stand by his players, whether they're seen as being in the wrong or not, but this time it was different. A rare attack on his side for the way they performed. When Mourinho's like that, you know something's wrong and you know he's going to get a reaction from his side.

That's why there's no panic from me, not yet.

Madrid has been far from its best in the opening two matches of the season but the manner of its defeat at Getafe on Sunday should act as a wake-up call for the players. Madrid has to play the second leg of the Super Copa on Wednesday night against Barcelona, trailing 3-2 from the first leg, and that game now takes on more importance for Los Blancos, to get confidence levels back both among players and supporters for the rest of the season. Then on to Granada at the Bernabeu this coming weekend. If I was Granada, I'd be afraid. I'd be very afraid. Madrid is a bit of a wounded animal right now and will be out to make amends over the next week. Should changes not occur between now and then end of the week, then it's time to panic.

It's not difficult to highlight Madrid's biggest problem at Getafe - the defense - as Valera's goal came from a set-piece and Barrada's from poor marking from Raul Albiol. Pepe's return from injury should go some way to resolving this. The Portuguese formed a superb partnership with Sergio Ramos at the heart of Madrid's defence last season and Madrid has not only suffered from losing Pepe, but Ramos's form has also suffered from not having his partner in crime at the side of him. Albiol was at fault for Getafe's second, being sucked in to make a challenge before the hosts broke away, albeit with a somewhat fortunate bounce.

The marking for the first also left plenty to be desired. Three Madrid players surrounded Valera from the set-piece yet none of them actually picked him up, leaving him with a free header to power beyond Iker Casillas. Set-piece defending has been a worry for Madrid for some time and will undoubtedly be the focus of defensive training at Valdebebas this week. To have Pepe back involved in that would be a real boost.

But although the defence was poor, Madrid just lacked that spark all over the pitch. In the first half they were okay, but nothing more. Mesut Ozil and Ronaldo linked brilliantly after 15 minutes and the German came inches away from scoring a memorable goal only to see him come back off the crossbar. And Higuain's opener just before the half-hour mark was another fine move, with Angel di Maria providing a pin-point ball for his countryman to calmly round the goalkeeper and slot into an empty net. Things were looking good for Los Blancos at that point before things started to go downhill. Whether their hectic preseason schedule has had an impact on their early-season form is anyone's guess, but Madrid has 'out-miled' Barcelona in the summer by a fair distance.

There's understandable disappointment among Madridistas with their side already trailing Barca by five points. A five-point deficit in La Liga is always a tough one to avert whether it be right at the start of the season or midway through it, but at least Mourinho has time to address the problems and turn things around now, rather than when it's too late. Turn the clock back 12 months and Los Blancos had also dropped five points in games from which, on paper at least, they should be taking all six. Madrid lost at Levante, the surprise package early on last term, before drawing 0-0 against Racing a week later. We all know what happened after that - 15 wins on the bounce to propel Real to the top of La Liga and there was no looking back. The same response will be required this time around to appease Madridistas and there's no reason why Mourinho and his men can't do that again.

One response has already been signed, sealed and delivered. A lack of spark in the play? Then bring in Luka Modric. Stop messing around over a million Euros here or a million Euros there, just get the deal done already. Finally, it has been done. The Croatian midfielder will begin to train with his new colleagues and don't be surprised to see him thrown straight into the mix for the Barcelona game on Wednesday night. Certainly against Granada at the weekend if not.

It's been a poor start by Madrid but let's not panic just yet. There were similar early-season problems last season and the same set of players went on to win the league. Keep the faith.

Hala Madrid!

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