Real Madrid: 5 burning questions after an important win vs. Alaves

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Why is Real Madrid so bad in the first half?

It’s a question I keep asking myself after watching pretty much every Real Madrid match. Even in the matches they win, such as this one against Alaves or the one a couple of weeks ago in LaLiga that finished 1-0 vs. Granada, they are starting very slowly. Real will turn it up in the second half with more passion and urgency, creating chances, but they are totally lifeless in the first half and reliant on the defense to keep them in the match.

Carlo Ancelotti has been criticized heavily over the past few weeks for a lack of rotations, a lack of attacking ideas, and a reliance on the individual brilliance of the defenders to keep these low-scoring games close. The PSG match, for example, could have easily been a humiliating blowout on a Champions League night if it weren’t for center backs David Alaba and Eder Militao, as well as the ridiculously good Thibaut Courtois in goal.

This match against Alaves was not as scary, because the away side carried such a minimal threat offensively. Even so, Militao and Alaba had to be standouts, and Courtois had to make one save from point-blank range. It was not a walk in the park in the first half, even against a side that was 18th in LaLiga going into the match.

One of the problems is that Ancelotti does not ingrain patterns of play or a methodological plan for opponents, relying instead on his key players to carry the day. They do that eventually, but in the first half, they are not able to unlock the defense.