Real Madrid’s first La Liga match was a success. They controlled the tempo of the match, nullified threat from their opponents by being in good position to retain possession and hold the ball; while passing their tests in defensive transition when those opportunities arose.
Bullet points from Kiyan’s notebook
- Getafe opted to clog the middle and close vertical passing lanes coming out of the back. This is a sound way to play against a Lopetegui scheme, in theory. But Real Madrid’s build up was quite good overall. They switched play quickly, played direct, and had a clear purpose to their possession (mostly in the first half). Gareth Bale also had a ton of space in-behind Leandro Cabrera, and despite Carvajal overhitting a couple of his passes down the flank to Gareth, the space and opportunities were there, and Bale’s lurking presence, shooting, and roaming between the flanks were difficult for Getafe to deal with.
- This wasn’t the best game from either Dani Ceballos or Isco in terms of their distribution, but for what it’s worth (and it’s certainly worth something), they both worked hard. In the absence of a traditional anchor, Isco had a couple really important interventions sprinting back to stop a counter-attack in the first-half, and Ceballos (before looking better in the second half) hounded Getafe’s midfield immediately when losing possession to ensure Real Madrid retain the ball.
- Those efforts off-ball were part of the reason Getafe didn’t threaten much. The counter-press, possession, and key interventions by the midfield and the central defenders made it difficult for Getafe to attack and test Keylor Navas. They looked a bit dangerous in the second half when Ivan Alejo came in (I was surprised he didn’t start, given how much of a revelation he was last season with Eibar), but Real Madrid controlled this match comfortably and did their job. Despite taking their foot off the pedal in the second half, they essentially recycled possession and kept looking for openings. It was a good performance.
- Marco Asensio had some questionable decision-making throughout, looking off wide open players on four occassions. But you could also argue he was within his right to shoot from his positions given how good of a shooter he is, and his work rate to win the ball off Djene on Real Madrid’s second goal was exemplary.
- Welcome to Lopetegui’s Real Madrid. There wasn’t a massive amount of curation in the final third, but there was a lot of ball control which is generally a good way to mask certain defensive issues. Accustom yourself to a lot of off-ball movement from the front three, and a lot of touches from the wing-backs and central midfielders. Kroos, when he sees the ball this much, and with the amount of outlets he’ll have, will be fun to watch. He was near perfect with his distribution tonight.