Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid: Part Three

Part 3 of Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid sees a double header with Juventus and battling some shaky away form

Having suffered the blow of losing Cristiano Ronaldo for the entire first season, the Real Madrid squad has responded well to sit top of La Liga two wins from two in the Champions League

Having realistically all but secured Champions League progression, attentions reverted to the league and a tactical quandary.

Casemiro had probably been our best player in the last few games, while James Rodriguez' form was sketchy at best and he had now picked up an injury. The dilemma was whether to stick with 4-2-3-1 or revert to a holding midfielder in a 4-1-2-2-1 formation - I opted for the latter and drafted in Casemiro.

Its first outing came at home to Levante - admittedly not the time or place at which we should be deploying a defensive midfielder, but needs must. Within 13 minutes it all seemed to be going horribly wrong, as Levante winger Jose Morales put the visitors ahead - unthinkable. But by the hour mark we'd turned the game on its head with goals from Gabriel Barbosa and Gareth Bale, now shifted over to the left-wing. In totally non-Real Madrid style we sat back and held onto a 2-1 win in a very dull game.

Next up was a bit of a freebie away to Juventus. I had zero expectations of success and set out wholly to try and steal a draw, which was going swimmingly until, surprise surprise, former Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedia popped up with an 81st minute. Annoying, but I really wasn't bothered having rested Sergio Ramos, Bale and Luka Modric.

Returning to the league we were on the road again, this time in Celta, and our dodgy away form continued. Our only half decent performer was Casemiro, who played a 7.5, as we slipped to a 2-1 defeat. Three goals in four minutes just before half-time from Daniel Wass and Iago Aspas - who is currently the top goalscorer in La Liga - effectively ended our hopes, despite a late equaliser from Barbosa.

We got back to winning ways with a home victory over Las Palmas. We should have steamrollered the relative minnows, especially after they were reduced to ten men after just six minutes. But instead we stuttered to a less than impressive 1-0 win thanks to Sergio Ramos' eighth minute header - once again taking a one goal lead and defending it. What have I done to Real Madrid?

It was then time to welcome Juventus back to the Santiago Bernabeu and things started well as Gareth Bale gave us the lead after just 22 seconds. For some reason we again failed to push on and extend our lead but this time were made to pay as that man Khedira equalised ten minutes into the second half. Seriously, Sami Khedia - who scored nine goals in 161 games for Real - has scored twice against us in two games, having not scored in seven league games at a 6.44 average rating. Our own defensive midfielder Casemiro was once again our stand-out player, with a man of the match-winning 8.1 rating.

We were then back on the road in the league and put the away hoodoo behind us, with an impressive 1-0 victory at Sevilla. That man Gareth Bale put us in front on the half hour mark and we once again trusted in our defence to see us through for a clean sheet, successfully this time. Both full-backs had field days, with Marcelo and man of the match Danilo both playing 8.7s and delivering 23 crosses between them. The three points saw us sitting top of the table, three points clear of Valencia with 24 points from our first 11 league games.

Join me next time to see how we cope with the might of Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates making the trip to the Bernabeu for our first Ronaldo-less El Clasico.




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FM 2018 Blog - Football Manager 2018: Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid: Part Three
Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid: Part Three
Part 3 of Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid sees a double header with Juventus and battling some shaky away form
FM 2018 Blog - Football Manager 2018
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