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Real Madrid-Villarreal: talking points the day after

Villarreal picked up an exciting point in the Bernabeu with a gritty performance in a match that could have gone either way, with both Sergio Asenjo and Iker Casillas making key stops late on.

A happy coach after a point in the Bernabeu.
A happy coach after a point in the Bernabeu.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

You know a match is a good one when it's a riveting watch, even when you know the final score.  Having just seen the replay of yesterday's epic, here are some of my thoughts:

(1) Marcelino's faith in his players was repaid in spades yesterday. Too many clubs waltz into the Bernabeu prepared to be beaten, and even with a "first-choice" lineup wilt once Madrid gets going.  Villarreal did not.  It would be hard to identify anyone who didn't play well.  Joel Campbell, Sergio Marcos, Moi, Dorado, Gerard....all did their part.

(2)  The timing of the goals didn't reflect what was going on at the time.  Probably the two best scoring chances fell early to Villarreal, and late to Madrid.   Moi's shot off a rebound of a Gerard toe-poke in the 12th minute shoudl have opened the scoring, but Carvajal headed it off the line with Casillas beaten.  Madrid's best chances came late in the match, the best a flashed header from Cristiano Ronaldo that Sergio Asenjo somehow tipped over the bar.

The goals?  Well, the first five minutes of the first half Villarreal had the advantage, but the Bailly penalty, pulling down Ronaldo before he could head home a cross, gave Madrid a lead.  And to be honest, our goal came from pretty much nothing--a hopeful cross from Jaume Costa in virtually the first foray forward we'd had since going behind created the half-chance that Gerard buried.

(3) This is the sort of match where we've often wilted in the past--not this year.  Marcelino's focus on fitness is paying off, but so too is the belief in themselves that his teams now have.  We saw both against Salzburg on Thursday, and they were on display here.   The one player who looked to tire substantially late on was Joel Campbell--who hasn't been a part of the club for that long.  (To be fair, he took some hard knocks in this match, too).

The last 10 minutes of regulation, Madrid was throwing everything at us, but not only did we hold out, we were trying to create some attacks of our own--and nearly did.

(4) The referee should not be the talking point--he did a good job. I've seen photos on twitter comparing a Carvajal hand wrap on Moi on one of our corners to the penalty he called on Bailly.  All that proves is a still photo can lie, big time.  Bailly committed a foul on Ronaldo in the box--our defender clearly tugged him down as the attacker tried to move toward the ball as it came in.  Carvajal probably wasn't wise to put both arms around Moi in an attempt to control where he was, but I didn't see anything beyond the usual jockeying for position (hey, Jaume Costa had ahold of Gareth Bale's arm on a corner early on, and no one said anything).  The two plays just were not the same.

(5) Bailly had a scary debut, but showed promise. He was beaten for pace by Cristiano several times, not like that's the only time that is going to happen.  He did make some good interceptions and clearances, but his inexperience showed in what he tried to get away with in the box.

No question the penalty was a penalty, but for me the more dangerous play came late on against Chicharito.   It was exactly the sort of play where we scream for a foul when it happens to a Villarreal player--attacker is ahead of defender, defender puts hand on his shoulder, attacker falls.  True, we usually don't get 'em either.   But no need to present the referee with such a tough call.

(6) Many Madrid fans are overreacting to a fair result. I'd be concerned about Benzema's performance, sure (he was on the pitch, wasn't he?  I barely heard his name) but I'd be less concerned about Ancelotti's substitution of Isco.  From what I saw, flipping Bale over to that side resulted in much more danger than what had gone before.  It was have been unfair had Madrid escaped with a win thanks to a late goal, just as I can't say it would have been fair had Vietto been able to score one of those chances late on.  Villarreal played well enough to earn a point, for sure.