When Jose Mourinho arrived in 2010 at Real Madrid, his main objective was to reclaim the La Liga title which was missing from the trophy cabinet at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho had acquired a fine group of players who were talented no doubt but short of ideas. He set up his team to do what Robin Hood had done - to plunder from the rich.
La Liga is filled with players who are calm and composed on the ball and love to pass and keep possession.They are wonderful pass masters and since keeping possession necessitates compactness, the defensive lines are generally high in La Liga. This however proves to be a weakness against teams looking to counter attack.
And that was exactly what played into the hands of 'The Special One' as he assembled a team that sat deep when defending and attacked furiously on the counter.
Instrumental in those counter attacks are two of the best playmakers on the planet. Xabi Alonso with his knack for inch perfect crosses while higher up Ozil made sure that Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria were fed with through balls to wreak havoc in the opposition penalty box.
However, this has increasingly proved to become one dimensional as opponents have figured out that the most important cog in Los Blancos is Alonso.
Shutting him down would eliminate the forwards completely. This weakness was exploited perfectly by Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in the knock out stage of the Champions League. Ferguson deployed Danny Welbeck with the sole purpose of disrupting the passing rhythm of Alonso which showed in the statistics as he had the worst pass completion rate in a long time.
This increasing dependency on Alonso was attempted to be negated by the purchase of Luka Modric who is a ball playing midfielder.Then again, with the rest of the team waiting like rabid dogs on chains, he has forgotten his strength and instead tries ambitious passes and through balls.
If Barcelona are the possession kings then Real Madrid are undoubtedly the counter attack wizards, but a high tempo pressing as shown from yesterday's defeat to Borussia Dortmund will undoubtedly show their weakness as a one dimensional team who depend solely on counter attacks.
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