DRAMATIC AND SOUL
Just a few days ago, experts and journalists were talking in every way about the Real Madrid crisis, but after a crazy game in Liverpool, this topic has lost relevance. The ‘real club’ faced the Madrid derby with a combative spirit. And a very emotional farewell before the match with the former president of “creamy” Amancio made it more sentimental – a giant banner with his portrait was unfurled in the stands, and players from both teams stood with their arms around each other and said goodbye to the soccer veteran to the orchestra with a violin. The atmosphere was impressive, because not a whisper came from the stands.
As for the hosts’ lineup, Carlo Ancelotti rested Aurelien Tchuameni and Eduard Camavinga, and put Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde in midfield. Of these, only the last played in the week at Anfield. In addition, Nacho, who closed Mohamed Salah, appeared on the left flank of the defense, and Marco Asensio replaced the injured Rodrigo on the right wing of the attack.
As for Atlético, before the game it met the criteria of one more “crisis team”. Suffice it to say that the “matrastics” by the starting whistle were only in fourth place. And in the last five games they have consistently scored one goal each. And if in the matches with Osasuna, Celta and Athletic this was enough to win, then Getafe managed to take a point from Madrid, and Real Madrid eliminated Diego Simeone’s wards in the Spanish Cup at the end of January.
SIMEONE BETS ON NULL
Already the starting lineups showed how differently the coaches saw the path to victory. Thus, in Ancelotti’s midfield trio there was not a single destroyer, and Kroos, playing deeper, simply scattered attacks from here and arranged combinations.
Simeone, like Vadim Evseev, believes that football is not about goals, so he went for an extremely conservative option tonight. In the usual 4-4-2 arrangement there was no room for a single-profile striker, Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco, who were sinking deeply, entered the front row. In addition, wingers Saúl (left) and Marcos Llorente (right), depending on the opponent’s attack flank, fell over the edge towards the defensive line.
All these tactical preparations by the Argentine worked quite badly. Real Madrid not only had the advantage, but at half time they had posted a 7-1 shooting stat with 0.64-0.02 expected goals (xG). The best moments were for Karim Benzema, who on two occasions forgave his direct rival from the center of the penalty area.
Simeone had few problems, and in the 23rd minute the main left-back Reinildo broke down. The mentor had to throw out Mario Hermoso, but with a change of scheme – 5-4-1 with Hermoso in the center of defense and Carrasco as a left back. It is a coincidence, or Vinicius was not in the mood that afternoon, but the right wing, thanks to the efforts of Dani Carvajal and Asensio, the hosts created much more than the left. But the forced rearrangement worked, and in the second half the teams barely exchanged a couple of shots without chances.
DOES APPLE SUPPORT THE REAL?
About how unhappy Simeone was with what was happening, the fact that already during the break he replaced Pablo Barrios with Ángel Correa says. Of course, it is very difficult for the Argentine in the absence of the injured Rodrigo de Paul, because he has a minimum control of the ball in the middle line. The scheme changed again: 5-3-2 with Griezmann and Correa in attack.
On the one hand, the coach of the ‘colchoneros’ admitted his mistake as a starter with this replacement. On the other hand, he correctly corrected it. Tactically, not personally. Because on the one hand, in the first half of the second half, the “creamy” didn’t really do anything memorable, but on the other hand, it was Correa who left his teammates in the minority already in the 64th minute.
The removal, however, went wild. The striker committed an offense by hitting Antonio Rüdiger with his elbow in an episode unrelated to the game, but nothing criminal happened there. Yes, he hit, yes, undisciplined, yes, unsportsmanlike, but the blow was not strong, and if Correa saw a yellow card in front of him, no one would be surprised. In the end, more or less similar episodes in each match: a dozen eliminations. In general, Jesús Gil Manzano obviously went too far and played for Real Madrid, which infuriated all the colchoneros, and, of course, the Catalans, who have their own history of relations with the judges.
PERFORMANCE OF GIMENS… IN BOTH PENALTY
This withdrawal was a great gift for Real Madrid, which was experiencing tremendous difficulties in the vicinity of someone else’s penalty area. Ancelotti even decided on an extravagant step, a second before Carrasco’s dismissal, changing the entire trinity in the midfield. Camavinga, Tchuameni and Luka Modric came out, and Federico Valverde instead of Asensio went on the attack. I think Ancelotti was very sorry that he hastened a bit with these changes, because he knew that the team would be in the majority…
It would seem that now the “royal club” will put pressure on the rival and begin to really test Jan Oblak. However, the guests not only defended very confidently, but also opened the scoring quite unexpectedly. Naturally, from the norm. Griezmann hung on from a free-kick, Jiménez ran to the right point and, jumping over everyone, sent the ball to the far corner.
But the current Real Madrid is the team with the most will in the universe. The “Creamy” finally woke up, rushed forward and after six minutes came back: Modric finished off from the corner and Álvaro Rodríguez, who came on as a substitute, went ahead of… Jiménez and headed in from the area. far post. For the 18-year-old Uruguayan striker, this La Liga appearance was only the second of his career. In addition, on the previous day with Osasuna, Rodríguez appeared on the field two minutes before the end and managed to give Asensio an assist. Wow, that’s performance!
In the end, the hosts almost swept away the opponent, but they could not break through the Clouds again and settled only for a draw, which practically deprived the championship of Spain of the championship intrigue. Real Madrid are now seven points behind Barcelona, despite the fact that Xavi’s team still has a game to go and – thanks to Manchester United – a sluggish schedule with no European competition.
The league. 23 round
“Real” – “Athletic” – 1:1 (0:0)
Goals: Jiménez, 78 – 0:1. Alvaro Rodriguez, 85 – 1:1.
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal (Vázquez 83), Militao, Rudiger, Nacho (Álvaro Rodríguez 77), Kroos (Camavinga 64), Valverde, Ceballos (Modric 64), Asensio (Tchuameni 64), Vinicius, Benzema.
Athletic: Oblak, Molina, Savic, Hermoso, Reinildo (Giménez 23), Llorente (Lemar 57), Barrios (A. Correa 46), Koke (Witsel 77), Saúl (Morata 76), Griezmann, Carrasco.
Warnings: Militao, 7. Koke, 22. Nacho, 56. Molina, 71. Modric, 90.
Sent off: A. Correa, 64.