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Immediate Reaction: Eibar 1 - 2 Real Madrid

A grind-it-out result in Ipurua. Real Madrid were still hungover from Paris, but Ronaldo’s brace, coupled with a couple moments of individual brilliance lifted Zidane’s men to three points.

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Madrid beat Eibar 1 - 2 in Ipurua (Ronaldo x 2; Ramis). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, and post-game podcast.

Read these tea leaves: An early (very early, even, depending on where you are in the world) Saturday morning match away to Ipurua against a surging team with a lot of good, stable, two-way players, in a match immediately after the party in Paris. This was a weekend-morning Champions League hangover. On the pitch, particularly in the first half, it showed which team was sharper. (Spoiler: It wasn’t Real Madrid.)

Zidane’s men misplaced a ton of passes in transition and looked vertically unglued. Joan Jordan, Eibar’s creative force through the middle, found a ton of space to work with, and Real Madrid didn’t make it particularly difficult for him to get behind their lines. Inui and Pedro Leon (welcomed back to the once de gala after a long-term injury), provided great depth. As the story of Mendilibar’s scheme goes — get the ball to the flanks and let Kike throw his body around. Ditto behemoths like Ivan Ramis on set-pieces.

In the first half, Eibar actually provided Real Madrid a ton of space to work with, but Real Madrid’s focus and passing wasn’t crisp enough to take advantage. The passing accuracy of the entire midfield (plus Ramos) was abnormally low in that opening frame. There were moments, to be sure, where Kroos and Modric did really well to exploit the space and pick up an off-ball run from Bale and Ronaldo; but it should’ve been a more occurring thing. Bale and Ronaldo had just three touches respectively before Ronaldo scored, despite being in good positions as outlets throughout.

That opening goal was brilliant, for what it’s worth. Modric intercepted a pass from the back, then slung a magical assist:

Real Madrid’s second (and winning) goal was similar in the sense that it came through an Eibar giveaway which Zidane’s men capitalized on despite not playing particularly well. Modric picked up the ball and played it out-wide to Carvajal, who put in a (seriously) beautiful cross to Ronaldo. The Portuguese headed it home past Dmitrovic.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t projected to be either given the circumstances. Eibar is in form, have welcomed back their captain which helped with the absences of Orellana and Ivan Alejo; and Real Madrid were groggy. Three points is fine here, regardless of how it happened.

Some bullet points from Kiyan’s notebook

  • A few notes on Eibar: I really like them. I mean, who doesn’t? Inui is insanely loveable, and these guys are punching above their weight so hard under Mendilibar. They were poor in front of goal, but their build-up was quite good, and Real Madrid dodged a ton of bullets. A more clinical team punishes Zidane’s team today. This was a really difficult three points.
  • Real Madrid’s goal conceded: Ivan Ramis bamboozles Ramos with a bunch of off-ball movement before peeling off of him (and Casemiro) and heading past Keylor Navas on the corner. That was, somehow, the only goal Eibar scored today.
  • There weren’t many overloads from Marcelo and Carvajal in this match until late. Most of the attack through the flanks came through Bale getting crosses in from the left or Modric playing through the wings at times. In the second half, this changed a bit (as did the heat maps of the wing-backs). Lucas Vazquez gave Real Madrid a new dimension over Isco, and the insertion of Benzema helped balance the attack a bit.
  • The misplaced passes in the first half were staggering, but just as (if not more) worrisome: the lack of vertical shape. As mentioned above, Jordan had way too much space to work with, and right until the last second of the match, Eibar easily got behind Real Madrid’s midfield and had clear sights on Navas’s goal.
  • Special shoutout to Modric and Carvajal. Luka was everywhere (in a good way). If his passing wasn’t always crisp, he helped a lot defensively, and created things while always showing as an outlet. Dani C was also really good, as he continues his form from Paris.
  • Post-game podcast will be up tomorrow.

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