Just like in every derby, things started quite slowly. But not for the fans. It was a very good atmosphere, a lot better than during the 0-1 loss against Simeone's team a couple of months ago. But the play was slow. Really slow for the first ten minutes. Neither team controlled the tempo of the game.
Arda Turan had the first real chance of the game, but his shot was saved by Iker Casillas without much trouble. Even though Real Madrid lacked some creativity and rhythm, the players did show up and fought for every ball against a very physical Atlético squad.
Diego and Diego Costa man-marked Xabi Alonso when the ball was on Real's half. Pepe made the best off this situation and rushed forward to score Real's first goal on the 17th minute. He was helped by a deflection, so one can only wonder what would've happened if the ball wasn't touched by Insúa.
That goal brought the crowd to their feet. The whole Fondo Sur started jumping and it was good to see that kind of atmosphere at this cold stadium. Diego Costa lost his mind after that goal and started trying to get a yellow card for Pepe and Xabi Alonso. He succeeded on the 23rd minute after an Oscar-worthy dive on Real's right wing. Costa hit Pepe when he was on the ground later but he didn't get booked. Clos Gómez at his best.
The team started playing a lot better after that first goal as well. It was as if the players were unleashed. Jesé and Cristiano Ronaldo showed how good they are with the ball on their feet and created a couple of good chances when they switched positions. Diego Ribas was a bit frustrated and got booked on the 27th minute as well. It was a hot derby indeed. But the good thing is that Real Madrid were ahead.
Jesé and Luka Modric had a double chance but their shots never really tested Thibaut Courtois, who didn't have to do much to stop both attempts.
The truth is Atlético de Madrid never played well throughout the whole first half. Pepe and Ramos stopped Diego Costa's aerial efforts while Xabi Alonso and Modric were also really good at regaining possession. It was a very different game from that 0-1 loss in which Real Madrid never dominated Atleti. A very good first half of football by Real Madrid, Pepe and Jesé.
The second half started and Diego Simeone decided to make his first substitution. Cebolla Rodríguez replaced Diego Ribas, who was disconnected all first half long. Rodríguez is a very intense player, so Simeone's intention was quite clear. He wanted to recover the ball earlier and in better positions.
It worked for a while. Modric and Di María were not comfortable anymore and that didn't help Real Madrid. Still, the Croatian player shook off the pressure and created a couple of very good chances for Real Madrid. But the pass of the night goes for Ángel Di María, whose assist to Jesé on Real's second goal. Big Flow keeps scoring. His first touch was simply brilliant.
Real Madrid were playing so well that the tie was right there for the taking even though this was only the first leg. Furthermore, Diego Costa will miss the second game at the Calderón after he saw a yellow card on the 59th minute.
Pepe had a big chance to score a brace on the 70th minute off a good corner-kick taken by Di María but his try went wide. Luka Modric saved Atlético's biggest chance off another corner-kick just before the ball crossed the goal line. And shortly after, Di María completed his outstanding performance with a long-range goal helped by yet another deflection. 3-0 and already a very good cushion for the second leg.
Jesé, Benzema and Di María got an standing ovation when they left the pitch for Isco, Morata and Illarramendi. The crowd simply loved this dominating performance by Real Madrid. Pepe, Modric and Di María were arguably men of the match. But the Portuguese defender single-handedly stopped Atleti's most dangerous player and earned the right to win that accolade. He simply made the difference tonight.
In comparison to other big matches in which Real Madrid failed to impress, the team came to play this derby. Finally.
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