Girona lose to Real Madrid 1 - 3 (Porro; Benzema x2, Llorente) in the second leg of the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
There was no real surge from Girona tonight — no epic run, no comeback, and no real moment where Eusebio Sacristan’s men could get their crowd into a frenzy.
Apart from a free-kick from Girona that hit the cross bar in the second minute, Real Madrid had this game under control. Some quick nuggets: Marcos Llorente started. In the fourth minute he won the ball in midfield and starter a dangerous counter. Three minutes later he ran behind Marcelo to cover a run and stop an attack. Three minutes after that, he muscled Girona off the ball in midfield to win possession. Again from Solari’s men — energy. Llorente wasn’t alone. Benzema and Vinicius continued their hot form and strong connection in attack, and Varane snuffed out multiple counter-attacks from Girona — most notably defending a two-v-one break where he dispossessed Lozano while cutting off the passing lane to an open Stuani.
One concern we’ve continually had in the Solari era was the team’s ability to escape the press. You saw some clear improvements tonight, where Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius would tuck inside when Marcelo and Carvajal had the ball on the flanks, opening passing channels and ways forward. It’s ‘just’ Girona, and it’s not something we’ve seen enough of to be entirely excited about — but it’s encouraging, and there are good vibes in the team now that we haven’t felt in a long time.
Among the good things brewing: Karim Benzema. He was, again, unplayable. He had multiple pass-and-move sequences and basically created his own goal by continually moving and pinging passes off his opponents:
Oh my!— DAZN CA (@DAZN_CA) January 31, 2019
Karim Benzema with a great finish after combining in from the flank, and Real Madrid's aggregate lead grows.
https://t.co/QlaIPtADzN #GironaRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/RZDhSz69rO
Worth noting that just before that goal, Vinicius Jr (who again, continues to be ridiculously good with his defensive work, and at times in this game was doubling up with Varane to dispossess opponents), won the ball in midfield and carried the ball 40 yards before slinging a key pass to Benzema.
The chemistry between the two has been really good, and it was no surprise he found Benzema again for Real Madrid’s second goal:
Make it two ✌️for Karim Benzema!— DAZN CA (@DAZN_CA) January 31, 2019
Another well-taken effort sees Real Madrid's advantage grow.
https://t.co/QlaIPtADzN #GironaRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/LZHqOWmTZX
Real Madrid were relatively comfortable in the second half, although Girona did start well and nicked a goal in transition through a nice sequence involving Pedro Porro and Alex Pachon:
O gol de Pedro Porro, em roubada de bola e belo contra-ataque da equipe do Girona pic.twitter.com/Hn7Y9PscGi— 90Goals TV (@90GoalsTV) January 31, 2019
Ceballos (who didn’t have a great game, with multiple giveaways in dangerous areas) couldn’t close Porro in time.
Girona getting on the scoresheet angered the Gods, though. The Immortal had seen enough, and decided to rebuild the two-goal cushion. He scores when he wants (he’s had two shots on goal this season, both goals):
Gooooal Marcos Llorente#GironaMadrid#HalaMadrid— Ⓒ Ⓡ ⑦ (@CR_2070) January 31, 2019
We’ll break this down more in the coming hours.