real Madrid 3 – 1 Athletic Club (Kroos, Benzema x2; Capa). Here is our quick response. To be expected: player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes and many more analyzes.
If ever it was easy to identify a turning point, a single point where the game spun in a different direction, it was Raul Garcia today who delivered a brutal challenge to Toni Kroos in the 13th minute and after a second Foul received his second yellow card on Kroos just minutes earlier.
Before Garcia’s red card (Remarkably, his first in over eight years), Athletic pushed up madly. Zidane’s men, despite their ingenuity (Mendy and Carvajal, Vazquez, Vinicius, Fede, who fall deep) could not escape. After Garcia was sent off, Athletic retired and sat in a low 4-4-1 block with Iñaki, the only man in front of the ball.
As difficult as it was for Real Madrid to conjure high quality chances on a high volume clip against low blocks, in this game it was better to use a hammer and nails on that athletic side than deal with the pressure (which probably would have subsided at some point when the game went on). And Athletic cracked. Real Madrid had almost 75% possession in the first half and Athletic kept more and more white jerseys open in the box as the half went.
Toni Kroos opened the evaluation shortly before the break:
In the second half, Athletic tried to get more out of their half and had some good possession spells. They found an equalizer through Ander Capa, who was one step faster than Sergio Ramos:
But Real Madrid were still looking good with that setback. Your offensive moves were good. Mendy, Vazquez and Carvajal all made good efforts on the defensive (even if the first two had bad moments on the ball) and Raphael Varane had Iñaki Williams under his belt.
Dani Carvajal from a set piece found Karim Benzema for the winner in the 74th minute:
Benzema also scored his second goal 3-1 just before the final whistle. He was fantastic throughout the transition sequence which essentially started with a Thibaut Courtois, except the other way where Real Madrid got away with a gap in the left half – Room.
Beyond that reaction, there’s a lot to break here, including tactical folds, substitutions, controversial referee decisions, and much more. Stay tuned.