Real Madrid travelled to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium knowing that 3 points was absolutely necessary to keep pressure on Barcelona at the top of the table. The game started off in predictable fashion, with Madrid monopolizing most of the possession and looking to slowly crawl up the field towards goal. The first 10 minutes saw no chances created for Real Madrid as the Whites looked to just establish a rhythm on the ball, but their comfort was soon disrupted. Eibar cleverly played to their strengths on their tiny pitch, by pressing and harrying Madrid’s midfield to great affect. In such congested conditions it was clear that Modric would be Madrid’s most important player, so Eibar hacked the little Croatian down again and again to disrupt Madrid’s flow. Aside from a one-on-one chance that Ronaldo was gifted to by James, Eibar’s game plan restricted Madrid’s chances with ease. It took until the end of the first half for Madrid to find a way through as Modric played a clever one-two with James to deliver a pinpoint cross for Bale to knock home. The distraught expressions on the faces of the Eibar defenders were enough of an indication to suggest that they were furious that Modric had finally found some space.
The second half started off in the same pattern as the first as Eibar and Madrid battled hard to win the midfield. Kovacic in particular did well to ensure that Eibar could never construct any threatening attacks together, but even without any pressure, the tiny side from the Basque region didn’t seem incisive enough to cause any real trouble for Pepe and co. As the game dragged on it became clear that Madrid were only going to get a few more chances that needed to be taken lethally to kill the game off. Usually in away matches like this-where little space exists-Ronaldo manages to pop up out of nowhere to assure Madrid a comfortable victory in a tough away match. But he amazingly put a shot wide of the post after doing well to get away from Riesgo and splayed a header wide only minutes later. His pattern of poor finishing continued as he miscued a bicycle kick, but he was rather fortunate to get a soft penalty after an Eibar defender tripped Lucas Vazquez. Nevertheless Ronaldo was cool from the spot and he secured Madrid the all-important 3 points in the vital battle to stay within fighting distance from Barcelona.
Fouls Eibar: 20
Real Madrid: 7
Emphasizes Eibar’s strategy to congest the pitch and disrupt the flow of the game.
Shots for Madrid: 1 out of 17 from a fastbreak
Displays Madrid’s difficulty in creating clear-cut chances and their lack of accuracy in passing to release the pace of Bale and Ronaldo on the counter. This looked like it could have been an end-to-end game with Eibar playing a high line that could’ve been exploited more (Ronaldo’s two one-on-one opportunities are prime examples). Madrid should’ve shown more incisive play on the counter attack.
Bale: The decisive goal – B
Modric: All-round performance and excellent assist – B+
Pepe: Quietly shut out any Eibar attacks with ease – B+
(All statistics taken from whoscored.com)