Paul Murray´s Match Report / Malaga 3-1 Real Sociedad

Malaga Real Sociedad

Paul Murray´s Match Report / Malaga 3-1 Real Sociedad

Matchday 7 – Saturday 3rd October 2015 – 17,175 spectators

The trip south to Malaga that promised so much ended in a disastrous defensive display when we effectively gave away the 3 points in the first 7 minutes of what initially seemed a winnable match.

David Moyes choose to retain the services of Zurutuza on the left wing with Ruben Pardo continuing in central midfield in place of the injured Granero.  Jonathas remained on the bench, with Agirretxe still preferred to lead the attack.

It all looked very promising but after just 4 minutes we had conceded against a team who had not scored in any of their previous six league matches this season.  Rulli rolled the ball out to Inigo who was stationed on the left hand corner of the penalty area.  He permitted the ball to run across him but seemingly lost concentration allowing the ball to run too far towards the touch line.  He chased the ball and stopped it before it went out of play by back heeling it to (he thought) himself.  He did not see Jose Recio behind him who stole the ball and crossed it to Charles who acrobatically volleyed it home.  It was a fine finish from the Malaga forward and gave them a huge boost after 6 blank matches in front of goal.

Worse was to follow for the visitors three minutes later.   Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni drop kicked the ball long straight towards Inigo.  The ball stayed low as it bounced but Inigo inexplicably backed away from it when he should have attacked the ball in a positive manner. This really is one of the first things defenders learn, that you never let the ball bounce.  The ball stayed low and skidded past him to Charles who coolly lobbed it over Rulli.  Seven minutes gone and 2 goals down courtesy of two schoolboy errors from the normally reliable Inigo.  Both mistakes were very basic and Inigo who has been very consistent this season duly and correctly took responsibility after the match for the uncharacteristic errors.

This appalling start left Real with a mountain to climb but the players stuck to the task and started to gain the upper hand in terms of possession.  In the 13th minute Zurutuza whipped in a fantastic deep cross from the left hand touchline for Imanol Agirretxe to head home making the score 2-1.  Real continued to have the upper hand in midfield but were unable to produce a killer pass to create a goal scoring chance.   On 26 minutes full back Elustondo got forward and put in a fine cross from the right touchline, but the resulting header from Agirretxe was weak with Kameni dealing with it comfortably.

The 34th minute saw Real keeper Gero Rulli spilling a long shot into the path of an oncoming forward but he managed to get up quickly to rectify his error, giving away a corner.  Just before half time Agirretxe hit the bar with a clever lob after a rare forward ball from Pardo.  Half time arrived without further addition to the score.  We ended the period gaining 61% possession, but during this half were unable to turn this superiority into even winning one corner.

The second half commenced with the pattern of the game unchanged.  Real continued to dominate possession but did little with it.  The majority of our play seemed to be based around the halfway line, with the ball being exchanged between Illarra and Pardo in a patient build up, presumably waiting for an opportunity to arise.  However I believe players have to create that opportunity by gambling with a forward pass.  This just did not happen and Malaga were containing us comfortable on a line about 30 metres from their goal.

Moyes realised that things needed to change and on 70th minutes introduced striker Jonathas in place of David Zurutuza.  This seemed a slightly strange substitution to me as I thought that Zuru was the most likely player to produce a pass that Jonathas could benefit from.  A minute later our task was then given a further boost when Malaga player Tissone was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

We had 19 minutes left against 10 men, surely we could salvage a point.  Moyes increased his attacking options when in the 77th minutes he introduced Prieto and Bruma replacing Elustondo and Canales.  These bold changes made a positive difference to us and we continued to attack Malaga forcing then further back to the edge of their penalty area.  We had a goal disallowed for offside with about 10 minutes left but as we continued to push forward we left space and in the 89th minute were punished by Charles again.  3-1 with Charles scoring all 3, immediately after his final goal he left the field to a standing ovation.

The reality of this game is that we gave Malaga a 2 goal start which was impossible for us to recover from.  The overall possession statistics of 61% gained by Real in this away fixture indicates a dominance that in my opinion does not represent the actual facts.  The reality of the matter is that we often keep possession of the ball in areas of the pitch that just don’t hurt our opponents.

I would suggest opposing players are happy for our midfield players to improve their passing statistics with sideways passes as it does not result in any pressure being exerted on their defence.  It is very unthreatening to play against a team that is set up in this manner, especially if the team with the possession don’t get their full backs forward to provide the opportunity for a penetrating diagonal forward pass.  The use of this tactic stretches opponents but in its absence it can be easy to defend against a halfway line based midfield that is often pedestrian in pace and afraid to lose possession.

In my view there is little point in having the ball if you don’t do anything with it.  I understand it can be really difficult to get a ball away from a Dolphin, but when was the last time a bloody Dolphin scored?

The record books will show that we had 61% possession, 11 shots (5 on target), 4 corners and had 2 yellow cards (Elustondo 44 mins and Vela 55 mins).

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