Lethal in attack, Real still shaky in defense

Wed Nov 6, 2013 3:59am EST
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By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid have spent several hundred million euros assembling one of soccer's most lethal attacking units, but coach Carlo Ancelotti is still tinkering with a defense that again looked shaky in Tuesday's Champions League draw at Juventus.

With Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Wales winger Gareth Bale playing either side of France striker Karim Benzema in a three-man attack, Real are almost impossible to keep at bay, especially with Ronaldo in such prolific form.

However, they have a less impressive record at the back, where they have managed to prevent their opponents scoring only twice in 12 La Liga outings this season, and once in four games in Europe's elite club competition.

In the 2-2 stalemate in Turin, when Ronaldo netted his eighth goal in Europe this term and record signing Bale opened his Champions League account for his new club, Real conceded a fifth penalty in their last three outings in all competitions.

Building a team on the assumption you will always score more than the other side is a precarious foundation on which to mount a challenge for a 10th continental crown and first since 2002.

"We are the first to know that we can give a lot more," goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas told reporters.

"We have shipped goals in the last few games but we are working really hard on defense," added the Spain international.

"With our quality we are going to create chances and if we manage to keep a clean sheet we are practically assured of three points."   Continued...

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale (2nd L) stretches to kick the ball during a training session at Juventus stadium in Turin November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi