Real Madrid victorious in El Derbi
Feb 4, 2020
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid (La Liga)
Starting XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos(C), Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Valverde, Isco, Benzema.
Zidane decided to start the game with his five central midfielders in a similar formation of 4-3-2-1 that he used in Supercopa. Isco and Modric joined Kroos, Casemiro, and Valverde in the midfield as Benzema started up top.
Real Madrid got an early chance following a training ground set-piece sequence. Kroos takes a short corner to Carvajal, who slips the ball back to Kroos. The German picks out Sergio Ramos with a drag back on top of the box, setting it up for a decent shooting opportunity. However, the captain's effort wide of the mark. After that, Real Madrid found it hard to break through a compact 4-4-2 structure of Atletico Madrid. Simeone had already done well to neutralize Zidane's five central midfielders in the Supercopa final, and things weren't any different in this match.
The first big chance for Rojiblancos came when a deflected ball fell to Vitolo near the penalty spot. Vitolo took his shot, but Courtois got down and made an important save. Atletico was settling in the game and looking slightly better of the two teams. Real Madrid boasted more possession, but Atletico Madrid managed to shut down Real's outlet to progress the ball into dangerous territories. Rojiblancos had another opportunity to take the lead when Correa found himself in a good position. His shot from a tight angle came off the outside of the near post.
Neither team created much in the remaining minutes of the first half. Real Madrid's midfield was stifled by an organized Atletico side set up to be compact and pressing high but Simeone.
Halftime (Real Madrid 0 - 0 Atletico Madrid)
Real Madrid had the better of the possession, but Atletico created a couple of superior chances. Los Blancos midfield of Kroos, Isco, and Modric all had their sporadic moments. However, they were not able to apply any control and consistency in the final third. The defense for either side looked solid, and both teams were only able to muster up one shot on target.
Zidane, realizing that Atletico was nullifying his midfield, decided to switch tactics and introduced Vinicius and Vasquez for Isco and Kroos. With the substitutions, he changed the formation to traditional 4-3-3 adding more width in the final third. This allowed Los Blancos to stretch the game and create more space in the middle of the field. The men in white were able to progress the ball better and dictate the tempo of the game. Zidane's alteration didn't take long to bear fruit. Near the hour mark, Vinicius showed top-notch composure, held the ball long enough before passing it to Mendy. The French fullback turned and put in a pinpoint pass for Benzema to tap the ball into the back of the net.
Real Madrid started controlling the game after the goal. They did well to keep the ball and recycle the ball over and over. Simeone replaced Morata early in the second half, with him gone, Atletico lost their focal point of attack and could barely rally any offensive sequences. Valverde's energy was lifting Los Blancos' performance, and he was dictating the flow of the game. Vinicius on the wings looked lively.
The Brazillian winger made a fantastic run into the box and released an attempt at goal, but it was straight to Oblak. Real Madrid managed the game with excellence and didn't let Atletico find any rhythm for a comeback. Zidane's men restricted Simeone's men to a mere one attempt (that too off target) in the second half.
Full Time (Real Madrid 1 - 0 Atletico Madrid
Zidane's ability to read the game and make changes within is one of his greatest strengths.
The second half was a solid performance by Real Madrid. They controlled the game with ease and looked like a top-notch team.
This team's defense is playing at such a high-level. Other teams will have to fight hard if they are to have any chance of getting past this defense.
Three Stars of the Match
Ferland Mendy - He is defensively a beast. Real Madrid has conceded only three goals in the 12 matches he has started. This game was no different. He worked hard all game and put in a fantastic assist for the game-winner.
Fede Valverde - His energy is a game-changer in both offence and defense for this team. He had three tackles, four interceptions, and two key passes. He also helped dictate the flow of the game in the second half as Los Blancos looked to manage their lead.
Vinicius - He was lively and dangerous after coming in at halftime. He changed the dynamic of the match and added a much-needed flair to Real Madrid's play. Put Mendy in with a well-judged pass in the buildup to the game-winner.