Real Madrid essentially ended the game in under one minute. Los Blancos came straight out of the tunnel with renewed motivation and nicked a goal thanks to Ronaldo’s fancy feet and Lucas Vázquez’s noggin. Real Sociedad’s shoulders dropped and Madrid assumed control from then on.
2. Fluidity Finally Benefits Madrid
Zidane’s obsession with greater fluidity has been a big reason for some of Real’s unravellings this season, but it worked rather well today. To be clear, it still seemed to effect Madrid’s press, as the lack of a more organized offensive structure made it difficult for players to recover into pressing shape. But Real Sociedad failed to really exploit it and Modric, Kroos, Carvajal, and Marcelo often adjusted well. But besides that, Asensio’s fluid movement did wonders in dismantling Real Sociedad’s 4-4-2 defensive block. His drifting runs to the center and to the right created situational overloads and allowed Madrid to progress the ball swiftly. Real Sociedad couldn’t adjust by shifting an extra man into midfield thanks to Ronaldo, who reacted to Asensio’s movements by shifting to the left-wing.
This forced Real Sociedad to keep their original shape and allowed Asensio to run free as an extra man.
3. Real Sociedad Bled Counters
As well as Madrid played, Sociedad made things incredibly easy for the home side by putting on a defensive horror-show that would’ve made their opponents proud. It only took one pass for Modric and Kroos to find Ronaldo and Benzema in space once Zidane’s men regained possession.
4. Regression to the Mean
Real Madrid and Ronaldo have been vastly undershooting their expected goals (xG) all season. Today was a welcome a return to form for both club and player, as Real notched 5 goals off 5.31 xG and Ronaldo scored 3 goals off 2.53 xG.
Don’t look now, but Cristiano is now the hottest goal scorer in La Liga.
5. Zidane’s Squad Choices
Eyebrows were raised when people saw Lucas Vázquez start in place of Bale and ahead of Isco today, but Zidane made the right decision. Lucas provided the necessary width and discipline for a 4-4-2 and scored the crucial goal that put Real in the ascendancy. More importantly, Zizou was right to rest the fragile Bale, while giving him just enough minutes to keep him in rhythm for the crucial PSG game.
He also astutely subbed Modric off for Kovacic in the 63rd minute.
6. Real’s Declining Focus in the 2nd Half Was Slightly Concerning
Real’s declining focus in the second half was a little worrying. It had no impact on the result, but good defensive habits are built through repetition and consistency, two things Madrid have desperately lacked all season. It’s always a bit of a gamble to just hope your team can turn on a switch and defend in a focused manner for 90 minutes, especially when it’s against Neymar-Cavani-Mbappe.
7. The Bernabéu Reinforced Its Poor Reputation
Benzema missed a good chance at the very end of a 5-2 win. The Bernabéu whistled. Stay classy Madrid fans.