Real Madrid's defeat to Real Sociedad has caused a massive stir and the post mortem that has followed unearths some harsh lessons.
By Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro)
The margins between success and failure are well documented to be minimal at the best of times. If for example Sergio Ramos had placed his header wide in 93rd minute of that epic battle in Lisbon on 24th May instead of perfectly inside the post, Real Madrid would have suffered the worst night in their history.
Yet the header went it, Madrid won La Decima and the greatest party ever experienced by Los Blancos unfolded.
Similarly on Sunday night the finest of margins were in evidence once more at the Estadio Anoeta where Real Madrid made a blistering start away to Real Sociedad, blitzing the hosts and going 2-0 up inside the opening 11 minutes.
An extremely presentable chance then fell to Toni Kroos to make it 3-0 and almost certainly crush La Real's spirit and kill the game, but the German's effort was saved by Zubikari and La Real somehow got themselves back into the game, going on to record a famous and much needed victory, quite probably saving manager Jagoba Arrasate's job in the process.
Yet the fall out from the first defeat of the La Liga for Real Madrid should not be too visceral. The side switched off. They should not have done, but occassionally in football debacles befall even the greatest of teams.
The opening of the game from Real Madrid was extremely positive, although the subsequent hour of play was less impressive this was not as disasterous performance as the scoreline might suggest. Without doubt, the two major factors which need to be address are the defending of set pieces, and the balance of the midfield. The former is an issue which has blighted Los Blancos for seasons, and one which there will no doubt be continued work upon.
The midfield is a more delicate matter perhaps, given that importance of equilibrium to Carlo Ancelotti's vision for his Real Madrid side. Two fundamental parts of the midfield from last season are gone in Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso, yet in James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, Los Blancos have purchased younger, talented versions who will become integral parts of this Real Madrid side for many years to come.
However it will take time. Kroos is adapting to the position Alonso occupied with such great effect, in between the centre back, picking up the ball and acting in effect as a quarter back, distributing play while at the same providing defensive cover to the back four.
James meanwhile has to curb his natural offensive tendencies in order to fulfill his defensive requirements when playing in a midfield three. Neither of these two players
where particularly at fault for the result in San Sebastian at the weekend, but naturally the newest faces will need some times to fit in to the Real Madrid system.
There was perhaps a drop off in intensity, once the second goal was scored which would have displeased Carlo Ancelotti. But the Italian will know that can be remedied, especially when you have such exceptional raw materials at your disposal.