Defensive breakdowns defined Real Madrid's opening day victory over Real Betis

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Real Madrid and Real Betis both had some extremely shaky defensive moments on Sunday. Unfortunately for Betis, they had two of them including one in the final minutes that cost them a point.

Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday was far closer than Carlo Ancelotti probably would have liked, but it could have been much worse. Between a ton of wasted chances, disallowed goals and a less than stellar defensive performance, Madrid both deserved the three points and were lucky to claim them all.

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Let's look back at two of the goals from Sunday and how defensive errors helped lead to both.

Real Betis really picked apart Real Madrid on their only goal of the game, exploiting Madrid on a quickly made counter attack and taking advantage of a ton of open space.

Cedric picked up the ball just behind the midfield line with acres of space to run into thanks to Luka Modric and Sami Khedira being pushed too far forward in the attack. Marcelo was forced to stay wide to cover the run of Juanfran down the right wing.


Cedric raced forward and blew by Sergio Ramos who got completely turned around and looked rather foolish. Modric had caught up with the play but with Cedric moving at full speed there was no way he could cut off his run without committing a penalty. Marcelo was never able to catch-up and fell behind the play.


Free inside the Madrid area, Cedric waited until Jorge Molina was in place and sent a perfectly placed ball across the face of goal where Dani Carvajal misjudged Moline's intent and over ran the striker. Pepe failed to step up into the space created by Carvajal because he was turned towards Cedric and focused on the ball. Goalkeeper Diego Lopez was also focused on Cedric, protecting against a possible shot.


Pepe continued forward and was essentially out of the play while Carvajal tried to recover but was a split second late, allowing Molina to direct the ball towards the far post and give Betis an early lead. It was a fine example of counter attacking by Betis and a lackadaisical bit of defending by Madrid who looked disorganized.

The goal did have the effect of waking up Madrid who equalized 12 minutes later thanks to Karim Benzema, but this was something we saw from Madrid last season. It's only one match but Carlo Ancelotti still has some work to do at the back if his team are going to achieve the results that are expected of them.

The match stayed tied 1-1 until the 86th minute when Betis had a poor defensive moment of their own that allowed Isco to score the winner and rip a victory from the jaws of a draw for Madrid.

Nothing at all went right for Betis on the winner. After a hurried clearance a few second before, the back line was able to reform but Marcelo's quickness at collecting and bringing the ball back up field prevented Betis from reading the play properly.

Juan Carlos and Chica Torres conspired to allow Marcelo to have way too much un-pressured time on the ball while Damien Perquis and Nacho completely failed to mark Isco properly. There also appeared to be some confusion between Paulão and Perquis as to who should pick-up Álvaro Morata in the middle. Combine that with Nacho apparently thinking that Perquis was going to pick-up Isco's run and it was a recipe for disaster.


As Marcelo closed in towards the area, Juan Carlos couldn't jump forward with a Madrid player out of the frame on the left wing. Chica froze at the top of the box and never closed down on Marcelo as he saw Morata -- who was never the intended target -- and Isco preparing to break forward.

Here we see Nacho already falling behind Isco while Perquis is watching the ball and still not committed to marking Morata or Isco. Paulão is caught in no man's land as well, forcing Perquis to have to make a split second decision.


Marcelo floated a perfectly weighted cross into the area that Morata tried to get a head on, unaware of Isco making a run behind him. Nacho completely lost Isco and Perquis and was unable to turn around quick enough to properly defend Isco, who was free to make a play on the cross, which he of course did.

It was still a heck of a pass by Marcelo and an even better run and finish by Isco. Many teams would not have been able to pull it off. That said, it was a preventable goal for Betis if they'd read the play and reacted better.


After the goal went in, goalkeeper Stephen Andersen immediately shouted out towards Chica and Juan Carlos for not closing down on Marcelo. He could have yelled at pretty much anyone involved because it was a mistake filled sequence all around.

Pepe Mel mentioned his team's struggles with dealing with crosses during his post-match interview and he's right. On Sunday it cost his team a season opening point and allowed Real Madrid to escape with the victory. It will be something he'll be showing his team in training and hopefully they'll learn from the play.

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