Friday, 4 March 2011

Friday Football Feature - The best game from midweek that you may not have seen

Today's inaugural 'Friday Football Feature' involves one of Europe's highest profile clubs, and yet another stupendous triumph for unbridled attacking football, and horrendously-amateurish defending. This time it is the turn of Malaga fans to look despondently at the floor, as This Chemical World relives the highlights from Real Madrid's astonishing 7-0 midweek hammering of Los Boquerones at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid 7-0 Malaga
Spanish Liga BBVA
Thursday 3 March 2011

Scorers: Benzema (27, 62), Di Maria (36), Marcelo (45), Ronaldo (51, 68, 77)

For video highlights visit:

Real went into this game ten points behind leaders Barcelona, after Los Cules had left it late to defeat Valencia, the unstoppable Lionel Messi netting yet again - just 13 minutes from time - to secure a huge victory at Mestalla. Madrid knew what they had to do, therefore, against a Malaga side lying second bottom of La Liga, a point off the foot of the table, and in desperate need of some sort of result. Having conceded 27 goals already on the road, Malaga were surely not especially optimistic about their chances of keeping a clean sheet against Madrid, who have scored more goals at home than anyone else in the division (44), including rivals Barcelona. However they perhaps didn't expect the onslaught that came their way, which was made worse by Manolo's sending off after 67 minutes, although admittedly, this had little bearing on the result, the hosts having been 5-0 up by this time.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for the home side, neatly volleying Xabi Alonso's inch-perfect free-kick past Malaga 'keeper Wilfredo Caballero in the 27th minute. There were suspicions of offside amongst the Malaga defenders, but the footage clearly shows Manu Torres playing the French striker onside, a costly error that will no doubt come back to haunt him. German wonder-kid Mesut Oezil nearly doubled Los Blancos' lead shortly after, but his vicious free-kick cannoned off the upright, and Benzema this time was offside as he casually stroked the ball into the empty net after Ozil had been denied by the woodwork.

Brazilian full-back Marcelo then stole the show with two exquisite pieces of creativity, which saw the visitor's job of getting back into the match turn from 'difficult' to 'impossible.' The 22-year old first played the ball through for Angel Di Maria, both of whom were perhaps lucky at the entire misjudgement of the pass from the Malaga defence, which allowed the ball and Real's Argentinean winger to run clear and net a classy second with ten minutes to go until the break. Di Maria then turned provider for his fellow South American, chipping the ball deliciously over the heads of the away defence who were caught napping as Marcelo skipped round the back and fired emphatically past Caballero on the stroke of half time to make manager Jose Mourinho's interval team talk almost entirely straightforward.

Mourinho adjusted the Real Madrid system, which admittedly hadn't been working badly, in the second half, putting Ronaldo at the tip of the hosts attack, and this tactical switch quickly and unsurprisingly paid dividends. Madrid's fourth - a real team effort and arguably the goal of the match, amongst several stunners - began with neat interplay inside the Malaga half between the deadly triumvirate of Benzema, Oezil and Ronaldo. Their movement and ability to switch the play was too much for the visiting defence, who allowed Oezil to play the ball across the edge of the box to Ronaldo who, after a superb first touch which took it away from his marker, fired the ball past Caballero to make it 4-0, a score line and a goal which clearly impressed and electrified the watching home crowd. Real's fifth wasn't quite so much down to effortless creativity, the hosts profiting from sloppy passing inside the Malaga half by the downbeat Boquerones, before Ronaldo fed Marcelo, and the Brazilian made his second assist of the night, crossing for Benzema to (just) head past Caballero and lend the score line a rather one sided look indeed.

Yet Madrid were by no means done yet, and for the final twenty-five minutes the match really did become all about the mercurial Portuguese wizard himself, as he completed yet another career hat-trick before limping off injured, in a sight to strike fear into the hearts of all Blancos supporters, and stir unbridled joy inside everyone else. Manolo received his second yellow card as the night went from terrible to catastrophic for Malaga, the midfielder penalised for a 'difficult-to-tell' handball in the area. Ronaldo duly stepped up and dispatched the penalty in some style, thrashing his shot into the roof of the net with all the swagger English fans will remember either fondly (if Manchester United fans) or with no small amount of jealousy.

It was of little surprise when Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with less than a quarter of an hour to go, young substitute Sergio Canales - demonstrating no small amount of potential despite rumours about his potential departure from Madrid - crossing from the left hand side for Ronaldo, who had already beaten the jaded Malaga defence, to make it 7-0 and complete the rout. So Madrid in the end managed to close the gap on their eternal rivals, albeit to a still significant six points, but this victory will do less for their points tally and proximity to Barcelona than the mind-set at the Bernabeu. Having demonstrated their potential to play the sort of 'champagne football' Madrid are always expected to, and with the attacking potential of Oezil, Benzema and Ronaldo to call on in the first team alone, this victory could do wonders for Los Blancos with the Champions League return match against Lyon looming large on the horizon. However with Ronaldo having suffered a late injury on Thursday, which looks set to keep him out for up to 15 days, the Lyon game could just be a bridge too far for Europe's biggest footballing celebrity.

Photos courtesy of (in order): European Pressphoto Agency, Real Madrid (x3), Soccer News, Real Madrid (x2), Total Football Madness

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