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How to overcome Real Madrid, by Quique Setien

Friday 22nd September 2017
Real Madrid, have arguably, been the World's best team in the past 12 months. Becoming the only team in history to win back-to-back European Champions League titles have seen their global brand become even more popular. Players such as Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and more have turned them into European supergiants. With the team so strong, how do you beat them? Just ask Quique Setien.

Many have fallen to the feat of Zidane, both in his playing and managerial days. The Frenchman, in his debut managerial debut, had suffered just seven defeats in his reign at the Santiago Bernabeu prior to their encounter against Real Betis, last Wednesday. Betis' manager, Quique Setien is well known for his tactical awareness when it comes to big games. Somehow, in a game that saw Madrid pepper Betis' goal 27 times with 60% of the possession, Betis won the game. But how?

1 - Frustration

Frustrating the opposition, when you're the underdog in a game, is absolutely key to getting a result. Jose Mourinho is also well known for this tactic, in important European games he has been known for keeping 11 men behind the ball at all times to stop the opposition scoring. Betis' midfield trio of Javi Garci, Ruiz and Camarasa worked well, keeping it tight through the middle, a key area that Madrid like to penetrate with the likes of Kroos, Modric and Isco. After a first-half of frustration, Madrid began to swing crosses into the box from out wide, which just isn't Zidane's tactical game.

2 - Work rate and teamwork.

As Madrid began to ship the ball left and right, to Bale and Ronaldo, Betis kept it extremely tight in midfield, concentrating the play into the sides of the pitch, pressing as a team. They almost created a wall of players between the winger and the goal, which forced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to play the ball backwards, which eventually resulted in the ball being transferred over. The process would just continually happy as the ball went side to side, far enough away to be a real threat. Quique Setién wouldn't have minded this, his game plan was to keep the ball away from their goal for as long as possible - it worked!

3 - A confident keeper.

Antonio Adan is a Real Madrid old boy. Upon his return to the Bernabeu, he made some outstanding saves, which included denying Gareth Bale a goal which would be worthy of a nomination for 'Goal of the season'. Confidence is key for a goalkeeper playing against such powerful attacking players. For example, if Isco, Ronaldo or Modric saw that Adan was lacking in confidence, they would simply bully him. They would be shooting powerfully almost anywhere at the goal, making him more and more nervous. To keep a clean sheet against Real Madrid you simply have to be confident that you have the ability to.

4 - Take your chance when you can.

It was the 80th minute, Real Madrid was still 0-0 against a side that most would've expected them to beat. After a run of two draws in La Liga, they looked like they were starting to give up. Quique Setien decided to take off defensive midfield player, Ruiz and inject some pace, energy and attacking thought by bringing on Joaquin. Almost immediately Madrid was on the ropes. After committing so many players to the attack, Betis suddenly had an attacking threat. They had a few attacks which they almost scored from, then on the 90+3rd minute, Sanabria headed home to complete the Quique Setien masterplan.

Despite Real Madrid having so much of the ball and so many shots on target, Setien had faith in his team to work together to keep them out, then surprise them late on and win the game. I'm sure the rest of Europe's top teams will be keeping one eye on how Madrid do in the coming weeks, with Zidane's side slumping to 7th position.
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

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