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Five key aspects of Madrid's defeat to Mallorca

Sunday - October 20, 2019 10:54 pm , Category : SPORTS
Madrid, Oct 20 (IANS) Real Madrid were on Sunday handed their first La Liga defeat of the season by Mallorca, which cost the club the top spot after the team's second-string players failed to fill the shoes of the starting members.
Madrid lacked intensity and creativity, while some of the players who started were not at their best.
The following are the key aspects of Madrid's 0-1 defeat to Mallorca:
Zidane's misplaced bet
Coach Zinedine Zidane's approach proved to be off, especially in the midfield, which did not deliver except for Casemiro, who did his best to minimise the impact of the French coach's ill choices.
The idea of fielding Isco alongside James Rodriguez was a mistake, as the Spaniard lacked the competitive rhythm and the Colombian had courage but no precision, Efe news reported.
With Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on the sidelines, Zidane decided to bench Fede Valverde, a player who had contributed strength and physical effort in the last couple of matches.
The two forwards Zidane fielded were not fed with crosses till Luka Jovic was replaced and the chances to shoot were minimised.
Odriozola's bad day
It will be difficult for the Madrid fullback to get past the Mallorca game, as he gave Lago Junior enough space to outplay him to score the lone goal.
Things got even worse for Alvaro Odriozola, as he was sent off just when Madrid was desperately looking for the equaliser due to a reckless tackle he should not have done as he had already been booked.
Courtois, a single shot, one goal
There was little Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could do to prevent the goal. Yet, the fact that Courtois conceded the goal is not to be overlooked.
This adds up to a demoralising fact that Courtois has only made five saves in nine games in this La Liga season and given up nine goals.
The goal is where Madrid's problems start.
Lack of intensity
It has become a recurring theme each time Madrid stumbles. "We lacked intensity in the early going," Zidane, Courtois and Marcelo said.
Despite this mantra being repeated, it is a grave indicator that a team of this calibre lacks intensity after a two-week long international break and that too against a recently promoted Mallorca.
Madrid had 83 minutes to react to the Mallorca goal, but the capital side did not find the way, except for some individual efforts by Vinicius Junior and a shot by Karim Benzema that hit the woodwork.
The absence of seven regular starters does not serve as an excuse for a star-packed team like Madrid, where the second-string players had won a La Liga title during Zidane's first spell.
Irritated by VAR
Madrid is upset because referee Alberola Rojas did not consult the video assistant referee (VAR) and the side claimed that a foul against Brahim Diaz inside the area went unnoticed by the official.
Yet, if the referee had awarded Madrid the penalty -- provided that it was scored -- it would have helped Madrid save face but not fixed what is fundamentally wrong with the capital squad.

--IANS kk/arm