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Immediate Reaction: Kashima Antlers 1 - 3 Real Madrid

Real Madrid advance to the CWC Final

Kashima Antlers v Real Madrid CF - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Kashima Antlers lose to Real Madrid 1 - 3 (Doi; Bale x3). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.

That’s now seven goals in four Club World Cup matches for Gareth Bale, whose hat-trick gave Real Madrid a convincing result in Wednesday’s semi-final.

It didn’t all start well for Bale and Real Madrid. Kashima Antlers, in their high-press and medium block, unnerved Real Madrid into making several giveaways from the back (four that led to attacking opportunities in the first 10 minutes, as Kroos, Marcelo, Ramos, and Vazquez ceded possession). Bale had plenty of space to attack on the left, but his touch early on was off, and he wasn’t efficient with the amount of time and space he had with the ball when he received a through pass from Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, or Benzema. Real’s first shot, meanwhile, came from Benzema — from just inside the box from a tight angle.

It was never out of control, but, at the very least, Kashima did make it difficult for Real Madrid in the first 25 minutes or so.

But Solari’s men eventually grew into the game. The passing became crisper, the defensive coverage was always present from Llorente in support of both full-backs, and the possession, even in tight spaces, was controlled and vertical — as were the off-ball runs. Bale started to finally exploit the space on the left. The first goal, courtesy of a one-two with Marcelo:

Kashima, for all their impressive work in the opening frame of this match, really let their guard down coming out of half-time, and gifted Bale his second goal with a horrendous back-pass:

Bale’s third, was a thing of beauty (can we just play the CWC anthem for Bale before every La Liga match?):

Real Madrid more or less controlled the rest of the match. Solari brought on Asensio for Bale shortly after the Welshman’s hat-trick, but had to take Asensio off again as his recurring right thigh injury seemed to take a relapse.

Kashima pulled a goal back in the 78th minute, as Shoma Doi snuck in a shot past Courtois and Ramos from a tight angle — shortly after they got in-behind Marcelo on the far-side:

We don’t generally take too much away from these CWC games at Managing Madrid — and it’s a bit surreal that we’ve covered it four times now in the last five years — but we’ll break this down in more detail on tonight’s Patron podcast.

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