Four takeaways from Real Madrid's derby defeat to Atletico | OneFootball

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·25 September 2023

Four takeaways from Real Madrid's derby defeat to Atletico

Article image:Four takeaways from Real Madrid's derby defeat to Atletico

Real Madrid suffered their first defeat of the 2023/24 season on Sunday evening, and in truth it had been coming for quite a while.

Madrid had gone behind in three of their five La Liga games heading into the derby at Estadio Civitas Metropolitano, but weren't able to complete a comeback at the fourth time of asking against inner-city rivals Atletico - losing the game 3-1.

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Here are 90min's takeaways from a disappointing night for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Real Madrid should have replaced Karim Benzema

Benzema moved to the Saudi Pro League / Francois Nel/GettyImages

Real Madrid were not expecting to head into the 2023/24 season without their star man Karim Benzema, having fully thought the forward was set to sign a one-year extension.

However, Benzema didn't do that. Instead, as you know, he signed a £172m per year deal at Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad, leaving Madrid without a genuine goalscorer up top.

Madrid had plenty of time to address the issue of the summer but simply chose to plough on with their original transfer plans, despite the gaping hole Benzema's exit had left in their starting lineup. Joselu was signed on loan as a backup forward, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes have become de facto strikers despite being much, much better out wide, and the full burden of getting goals has been lumped on young midfieler Jude Bellingham.

And while Bellingham has done exceptionally well at carrying that burden, Sunday's defeat was explicit proof that he is in dire need of more help from the players in front of him if Madrid are going challenge for trophies this season.

Carlo Ancelotti's narrow formation is easily exploited

Ancelotti got his tactics wrong on Sunday / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/GettyImages

Carlo Ancelotti opted to played five central midfielders on Sunday evening and the result was all three of Atletico Madrid's goals coming from exploiting the spaces left out wide.

Madrid's full-backs Lucas Vazquez and Fran Garcia didn't play well on the night, sure, but it's hard to really blame the pair when they were essentially hung out to dry tactically by their coach.

The legendary Italian manager needs to work out a way to add more width to combat Madrid's defensive weaknesses.

A key reason behind Madrid going behind in four of their six La Liga games this season has been the lack of assuredness shown by centre-back pairing David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger.

The duo looked completely out of sorts on Sunday evening, with Alaba struggling to deal with the aerial presence of Alvaro Morata and Rudiger find it tough to get even within touching distance of the mercurial Antoine Griezmann throughout the 90 minutes.

Both of these issues may have been dealt with by Eder Militao, who the club have unfortunately lost to an ACL injury for the rest of the season.

Lack of attacking depth is concerning

Diaz came off the bench for Madrid / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Here are the bench options Real Madrid had for the derby:

  • Joselu
  • Aurelien Tchouameni
  • Ferland Mendy
  • Nacho Fernandez
  • Brahim Diaz
  • Dani Ceballos
  • Fran Gonzalez
  • Andriy Lunin

Meanwhile, here are Atletico Madrid's:

  • Axel Witsel
  • Cesar Azpilicueta
  • Memphis Depay
  • Angel Correa
  • Javi Galan
  • Rodrigo Riquelme
  • Ilias Kostis
  • Antonio Gomis
  • Ivo Grbic

If you're chasing a game, which bench would you rather have? The one with Angel Correa and Memphis Depay on it, or Real Madrid's? Obviously the former.

That alone tells you all you need to know about the lack of quality attacking depth in the Madrid team.

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