After an uneventful start, Real Madrid broke-through in the 2nd half with a goal from Pepe from a set-piece; before Griezmann eventually answered by capitalizing a chance late. We were reporting live from the Bernabeu today for today’s reaction, and will have more match coverage coming soon, including: player reactions, a tactical review, and two post-game podcasts.
Today’s eye test was somewhere in between ‘ok, there are some issues here’ to ‘God damn Luka Modric has more talent in his hair-band than I ever have in my life’; but stops somewhere before the ‘we just played Napoli off the park at the Bernabeu’ metric.
In many ways, this was ugly, but in some moments, it was heroic. For one, the margin of error is laughably small against an insultingly well-organized Diego Simeone scheme. Carrasco played off the shoulder of Marcelo — praying to keep him honest and pinned far away from Juanfran; and when Marcelo would venture forward, Juanfran had ample coverage on the wings while the backline shifted into place. Though Real Madrid slung around possession quite comfortably, one misplaced pass (case-in-point, Pepe giving the ball away high up on the right flank after a long spell of possession) meant Atletico dangled the other way in record time — with Carvajal treading water trying to cover three runs at the far post. In other instances, Keylor Navas made a brilliant save to mask defensive miscues.
On the flip-side, just when Real Madrid though they had teased Atletico out of their shells to break them on the counter, Simeone’s men recovered swiftly -- settling in to defend as if there was no counter at all. Their transition defense was incredible, and when locked-in, there isn’t a team in Europe who does it as well.
But even Keylor couldn’t keep a clean sheet despite all the great work he did. Eventually Real Madrid’s defense cracked, through-ball after through-ball, and Greizmann snuck through on goal to break the game. All of Real Madrid’s possession, passes in the final third, and shots, were annulled — just like that. Simeone deserves credit.
Those were the caveats — enough of them to drive your hair out. If we’re to extract the good, we’d have to commend Real Madrid’s counter-press — particularly to start the 2nd half. The hounding gave Atletico all kinds of issues coming out of the back, and if they didn’t give the ball away initially, Luka Modric — who is in running for ‘man of the match’ alongside Dani Carvajal (who was everywhere) and Keylor Navas — was there to make an interception and trigger an attack. In a game where the BBC relied heavily on support behind them, Modric acted as the glue-guy to held bind the team. He spearheaded the midfield.
Ultimately, a draw hurts, but it’s not entirely disastrous. It was a fair result, even if Real Madrid could’ve done things a bit differently (and better). We’ll break these down more for you in the upcoming articles.
Half-time show, live from The Bernabeu: