Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho wants more concentration from players during free-kicks
The late equaliser conceded by Real Madrid at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday is unlikely to affect their progression to the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League, but the defensive issues it highlighted may cost them further down the line.
Madrid were cruising towards a 1-0 first leg advantage in Moscow until a late lapse at the back allowed the Russian side to equalise. As the game reached a close an increasingly desperate CSKA threw their big defenders forward, leading Madrid boss José Mourinho to introduce back-up centre-half Raúl Albiol for playmaker Mesut Özil to counter their aerial threat.
However when Alan Dzagoev hoisted a 92nd minute free kick towards the penalty spot, Vasili Berezoutski outjumped Sergio Ramos, Alexei Berezoutski beat Albiol to the flick on and Pontus Wernbloom got ahead of Xabi Alonso to fire the loose ball to the net.
Asked to comment on the goal after the game Mourinho appeared to suggest that his players needed to concentrate better when defending set-pieces.
“There are goals from dead balls where you can easily identify a lack of concentration,” said Mourinho. “But I was very far away (on the sideline) so I am not in a position to say that is what happened.”
Wernbloom’s was the first goal conceded by Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas in 486 Champions League minutes, but they have been regularly letting in similar goals since returning from La Liga’s winter break.
Málaga scored twice from corners at the Estadio Bernabéu in early January. Barcelona’s Carles Puyol headed in another corner in January’s ‘Copa Clásico’ first leg, leading indirectly to the well-publicised training ground confrontation between Ramos and Mourinho. Real Mallorca’s Tomer Hemed and Levante’s Gustavo Cabral have also headed goals from set-pieces against Madrid in the last few weeks.
Alonso said after the game that Madrid were not over worried by this apparent weakness.
“We have no psychosis about defending dead ball situations,” said the midfield general. “They are part of the game. We try to do everything perfectly, but the opponent also has a chance to play.”