SpanishSports daily "AS" put in an interesting article today that highlights the "Achilles heel" of Real Madrid this season: the set plays. They give make interesting comments & give figures that ram home the point.

“We are concerned about the goals from set pieces" comments Pepe. "In Europe these mistakes will be costly "says Club Directive Emilio Butragueño."Our mistakes are due to lack of concentration”, comments second Coach Aitor Karanka. “We must continue to improve this aspect" says defender Sergio Ramos.

Real Madrid has a clear defensive problem which becomes evident week after week. The goals conceived have cost the team important points in Liga & is one of the principal reasons they are 13 points behind Barcelona. There is genuine concern that if this part of the teams plays is not corrected that their Champions League campaign may be in danger as all the opposition Clubs know of this weakness & go into the games consciously to exploit. 


Here are some startling figures. Eight goals received from corners: Mallorca, Manchester United, Granada, Espanyol, Valladolid (two), Ajax & Sevilla. Five goals from free kicks: Valencia, Alcoyano, Manchester City & two from FC Barcelona. Two from strategic set plays: Getafe & Valencia CF. That is 15 goals from corners, free-kicks & strategic plays from a season total of 48 goals

Coach Mourinho has said that more cannot be done from a training point of view. This facet of the game is practiced consciously on a weekly basis, with video analysis & group talks.

If we add three penalties, Xabi Prieto, Agüero y Messi, 37% of the goals against Real Madrid came from fixed ball / set plays.

This situation has already lead to internal dressing room disputes between players & between Coach Mourinho & his players. Whether it is a strategy to motivate or not his defenders, Mourinho & his staff have singled out publicly mistakes by his defenders, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa, Coentrao, Marcelo..., which has not been received well. Even the goalkeepers have received flack, with Iker Casillas criticised heavily along with Adan.

This obviously needs to be bettered & fast as Galatasaray ( & others ) knows well the weakness, as so does Atletico de Madrid which will meet up in an important Liga clash between 2º & 3º place apart from the upcoming Spanish Cup Final.

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