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Real's Pellegrini: Set-piece defending is a concern

August 1, 2009

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini admits his side`s defending from set-pieces is a concern after Juventus inflicted a first defeat of pre-season on the big-spending Spanish giants.

Juventus downed Madrid 2-1 in the semi-finals of the Peace Cup last night with former Bernabeu favourite Fabio Cannavaro and Hasan Salihamidzic netting the Italian side`s goals at the start of either half.

Cannavaro`s goal was a glancing header from Alessandro Del Piero`s free-kick, while Salihamidzic netted a similar effort in the second period, but from a Del Piero corner instead.

That means that all five goals that Madrid have conceded in their four pre-season games to date have come from set-pieces - all from headers - and Pellegrini knows it is something they need to improve on considerably before the start of La Liga later this month.

''The defending at dead-ball plays is concerning, but we know that we have worked only a little on that. It`s not normal, but it`s not something that right now we are working on very strongly,'' said Pellegrini, who nevertheless was still pleased with his side`s overall performance against Juve on what the coach described was a ''terrible'' playing surface at Sevilla`s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.

''The team continues progressing game by game,'' he added.

''The state of the pitch was terrible. We weren`t able to enjoy the game, but you need to try and get over that. I`m happy that the team managed to do that and stayed true to the same style of play throughout the match.

''We had clear chances, and the worst things are the dead-ball plays. We can`t concede so many goals like that, we will have to work on that.''