Real Madrid victorious against Eibar in their return to action
June 14, 2020.
Real Madrid is back in action against Eibar.
Starting XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos (C), Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Rodrygo, Hazard, and Benzema.
Real Madrid is officially back in La Liga action. However, they were playing in the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium (home to Real Madrid Castilla) instead of the Santiago Bernabeau Stadium as the latter is under renovation. Zinedine Zidane started with a 4-3-3 formation and included a surprise for the Madridistas. Many had attempted to predict the Frenchman's starting lineup, but very few would have expected him to start Rodrygo ahead of Isco, Vinicius, or Bale.
Real Madrid started the game with a cracker. Toni Kroos gave the home team the lead with a fantastic strike from the top of the box, sending it past the diving goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Los Blancos were 1-0 up inside the 3rd minute.
Eibar's coach sent the team out to play a high press. The Merengues did well to keep the ball but was finding it difficult to move the ball up the pitch.
Players looked a bit rusty, but it was a given considering this was their first professional match in three months. Eden Hazard switched flanks with Rodrygo to find more space, and it did not take long for him to do so.
Karim Benzema did brilliantly on the left to skip pass couple of defenders. The Frenchman passed the ball to Hazard, who was in ample space inside the box. Hazard then squared the ball to Sergio Ramos - the Spanish International tapped the ball into an open net to give Real Madrid a 2 - 0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Benzema and Hazard were at it again with their linkup play. The duo combined to set the Belgian through inside the box. Hazard's shot is parried away by the goalkeeper, but Marcelo pounces on the loose ball and smashes it home with his left foot.
Right before halftime, Marcelo sends a lovely cross towards Rodrygo. The Brazillian tried to take a shot with his left foot but failed to make clean contact. Eibar's goalkeeper Marko Dimitrovic made an easy save. The Score at the midway point was Real Madrid 3 and Eibar 0.
Halftime (Real Madrid 3 - 0 SD Eibar)
Zidane made an early substitution with Dani Carvajal coming out and Ferland Mendy going in.
Thibaut Courtois made good save down his left after he gave away to ball straight to Edu Exposito. Eibar continued with a good spell of five to ten minutes of football, which led to a shot from distance from Exposito. Courtois was forced to make a diving save. A minute later, Sergi Enrich glancing header following a corner hit the crossbar and out.
However, Eibar's intensity and the pressure was finally rewarded when Exposito's attempt was deflected by Pedro Bigas - the ball trickled through the legs of the Belgian goalkeeper into the back of the net.
Zidane made his second set of substitutions as he replaced Hazard, Rodrygo, and Ramos with Gareth Bale, Vinicius Jr, and Eder Militao.
The visiting team did well to restrict Los Blancos in their movements and ball progression but failed to create danger themselves. The Royal Whites took the foot off the gas, but they were comfortable enough to see the game through.
Mendy made a nice run into the box and passed the ball to Bale. The Welshman, however, was unable to make anything out of it. Eibar played much better in the second half, but part of it can be credited to the home team's relaxed approach after being 3-0 up.
Eibar played much better in the second half, but part of it can be credited to the home team's relaxed approach after being 3-0 up. Los Blancos barely needed to switch gear to finish the game 3-1 in their favor.
Final Score (Real Madrid 3 - 1 SD Eibar)
Real Madrid started to the game strongly, and they were three goals ahead by halftime. The players seemed more relaxed and a bit tired in the second half. Eibar took advantage and kept Courtois busy for a brief spell. However, the three goals in the first half were enough for Real Madrid to win the game in their return to La Liga.
Three stars of the match
Toni Kroos: He scored the opener with a phenomenal strike. He was always present to take the pressure off Ramos and Varane when pressed by Eibar.
Sergio Ramos: A great performance by the Captain. He was solid at the back with two interceptions and three clearances. He also made a brilliant run into the box and scored the second goal.
Eden Hazard: Hazard looked sharp in his first game back from injury. He seemed to gain more confidence as the game went on and provided an assist for Ramos' goal. His combination play with Benzema was a joy to watch.