Nicolas Cage starred in a movie called "Gone in 60 Seconds", wherein he could hotwire a car and escape in less than a minute. Real's title hopes, at least insofar as the Copa del Rey is concerned, were gone in sixty seconds.
Carletto sent the boys out in an attack-minded 4-3-3, with Navas in goal. It took less than a minute for Atleti to wash Real's hopes down the drain. Pepe was caught out in midfield by Griezmann, and was beaten for pace down the left flank. The ball was popped over to Torres, who made no mistake.
The shock of the early concession and the knowledge that 4 goals were needed changed Los Blancos' shape immensely. Anyone familiar with Carletto knows that he tends to allow his left and right backs to maraud forward. Marcelo in particular was very active on the left hand side, sending cross after cross into the box. All but the two central defenders were attacking.
El Cholo parked the bus in Real's box, allowing his forwards to pick and choose when they would streak downfield on the counter. Real knew that they would have space on the flanks, and that was reflected by the sheer number of crosses that were sent into Oblak's box. Solid defending from Atleti, a red and white dam preventing the overflow from the white river, ensured that most of these came to nothing.
The first goal for Real came from a set piece taken from Kroos, and it was knocked in by Ramos. Of course, it is important to note here that the nature of the set piece allowed Ramos to come forward, whereas on the crosses in play he had to play further back for defense. Perhaps his aerial ability would have come in handy on some of the other dozens of crosses sent into the box. Even with having eight players in the final third, Real was unable to put the ball in the back of the net again in the first half.
The second half began much as the first one did, with Torres again scoring inside sixty seconds. Clearly, Pepe was not the right choice to cover Griezmann, who was again a red and white blur on his way to assisting Torres' goal. It seems obvious that, with the pace and aerial ability that he provides, Varane would have been a better choice. Back to square one, Real again needed four goals.
Crosses into the box from the relatively clear flanks were again the attack plan. Bale and Ronaldo switched wings, allowing the former to put that magnificent left foot to work as a provider. Indeed it was a Marcelo to Bale connection that allowed the Welshman to assist Ronaldo's beautiful headed goal. Back down to three.
The white river of the first half slowed to a trickle as the sheer energy and effort put into attacking Oblak's goal again and again sucked dry the energy reserves of the men in white. Apart from a few half-chances here and there, it became pretty clear that the game was done and dusted.
Tactically, this game was an anomaly. The early concession completely derailed the original patient plan of the Italian boss. Scoring four goals against arguably the best defense in European football was simply too much to ask of any team. Sending Marcelo and Dani forward allowed Bale and CR7 to try and make chances in the center of the area, but the team bus that was sitting there kept them from having any success.
Being out of this competition isn't an entirely bad thing, we're still tops in La Liga with a game in hand, and the advantage of skipping out on a few mid-week games will allow Ancelotti to rest his boys.
Till next time.