Real Madrid lose 0 - 2 to Real Sociedad (Jose, Pardo). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
This got off to the worst start imaginable. In the second minute, Marcelo gave the ball away in a deep position, and Mikel Merino made a run into the box where he was taken down by Casemiro, leading to an early penalty and go-ahead goal for La Real:
And that early mistake by Real Madrid essentially determined the outcome of the match. Sociedad are a wounded team this season. They’ve been struggling to string together good results. Their defending has been patchy, Illaramendi hasn’t been himself, and outside of Oyarzabal and Janujaz, they haven’t gotten consistent offensive production this season. After Wilian Jose converted his penalty, Sociedad didn’t do much else offensively for the rest of the half, and they didn’t deal well with Real Madrid’s high press — a rare one, to be sure, during the Solari regime.
And yet, despite that, along with Modric and Kroos looking good offensively, and Vinicius getting behind the lines to create constant danger, Solari’s men couldn’t score. They handicapped themselves with an early mistake against a team that should’ve been there for the taking. Sociedad did have counter-attacking opportunities in the firs thalf, but Modric and Ramos combined for four important interventions to prevent those.
And that they couldn’t capitalize their chances in the first half, made it even more difficult for them to recover in the second half, where Sociedad was more efficient in their build-up.
Real Madrid’s press started to really break down in the second frame, making it far too easy for Sociedad to carve their way through and get into the final third.
One potential turning point was in the second half, when Isco came on for Casemiro, and played a great ball Vinicius Jr, who, in turn, did well to get in front of his man and get through on goal. The Brazilian attacker was taken down by Rulli (who had a really good game tonight, saving point blank shots, when he’s been quite mediocre otherwise for a while now), but the referee claimed it was a clean challenge:
Another clear penalty denied for Real Madrid...First Ramos and now Vinicius. What's the point of VAR? pic.twitter.com/jApafdhkAS— Champions ⚪️[IFB] (@Ha307Mu) January 6, 2019
Real Madrid didn’t get the penalty, and to make matters worse, Lucas Vazquez picked up his second yellow card shortly after. Vazquez’s departure had a terrible domino effect on the entire defensive scheme which was frail to begin with. Modric and Isco were stretched wider in midfield to cover for the lack of wing coverage (at that point, Vinicius really couldn’t help Marcelo defensively given that Solari needed to chase the game), and Sociedad had a ton of space to attack. The game became a back-and-forth melee, with Real Madrid trying to get shots past Rulli, and Courtois saving point blank shots from Janujaz and Oyarzabal.
Ruben Pardo eventually made it 0 - 2. You can clearly see how open Real Madrid were on the goal:
This was tough to sit through, even during some encouraging moments in the first half, which probably only looked encouraging due to our low standards this season. The second half was horrendous — and whether you want to scold the referee or not doesn’t change the fact that Real Madrid weren’t good enough today.
The only real positive today was Vinicius, who looked to take players on at every opportunity and make line-breaking off-ball runs as often as he could. His eagerness did cause to him lose the ball six times, but he also had six completed dribbles, and six shots — unlucky not to score in the end after getting into good positions.
Vinicius's mentality is what we've been missing. Zero fear. Alive.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 6, 2019
I'll let him make a bunch of mistakes given the constant danger he creates.