Real Madrid go into Riazor and keep a clean sheet thanks to a brilliant Keylor Navas. En route, they also score three away goals (Bale, Casemiro, Kroos). Here’s our quick reaction to the match. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, tactical review, and post-game quotes.
It wasn’t all routine at the Riazor tonight. Deportivo — a much-improved Deportivo since last season, it has to be said — were prompted to give Real Madrid’s back-line a ton of trouble. Pepe Mel pulled his team back into a deep block, bar two players — Florin Andone and Zakaria Bakkali. When Deportivo retained possession, typically deep in their own half, the front two provided outlets high-up the pitch — immediately looking to receive a long-pass and get into space behind Real Madrid’s high line. This caused problems, to be sure. Andone had several good chances, including two clear-cut opportunities right in front of Keylor Navas who saved both superbly.
Towards the end of the match, Navas appeared again to save a penalty kick from Florin Andone to ensure the clean sheet.
Depor were always going to need more against a historically great Real Madrid team who will outscore anyone on earth. Zidane’s men played their way up the pitch, dominated possession, and channelled their patience into pragmatic offensive curation. Bale opened the scoring from a Benzema assist, and the two combined for a lovely goal in the second half as well — Benzema slicing Depor with a through-ball to Isco, who played it wide to Bale, where the Welshman patiently cut the ball back to Toni Kroos for a finish.
Toni Kroos only knows how to score beautiful goals pic.twitter.com/DlZU9isWJX— L'Oracle (@Flockazette) August 20, 2017
Somewhere in between, Casemiro scored a tap-in after a great cutting run into the box. Casemiro venturing forward with Kroos and Modric covering for him is something Zidane has gone to a lot lately, and it’s worked really well. It’s a surprisingly dangerous play — another weapon in Zidane’s deep offensive playbook.
- Andone was very difficult to deal with all night. I imagine once Depor has their full-strength line-up, they’ll make a leap above their 16th-place finish from last season.
- Nacho was fantastic. In a game where Varane’s pace was missing, Nacho used his own pace to recover in transition to help cover for Carvajal multiple times.
- Real Madrid pulled together 44 consecutive passes in the build-up to Casemiro’s goal, which, according to Phil Schoen of BeIn, is the most in the build-up to a goal in La Liga history.
- Most of the build-up tonight went through Modric and Isco, but I thought the former in particular was outstanding in reading the play defensively and releasing the right passes.
- Keylor was great.
- Marcos Llorente! Marcos Llorente! Marcos Llorente!