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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2 - 2 Club Brugge

Remontada was too late, and the defensive mistakes in the first half cost Real Madrid two points.

Real Madrid v Club Brugge KV: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid draw Club Brugge 2 - 2 (Ramos, Casemiro; Bonaventure x2). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.

After three straight games of solid defending, where Real Madrid conceded few chances (one shot on target over three games, to be exact), the switched flipped off tonight against Club Brugge. Part of that came down to failed defensive coverages and a high line, and the rest came down to carelessness with the ball where Brugge could pounce on the ball in dangerous areas.

On Brugge’s opening goal, Carvajal got caught up the flank with Lucas in no position to cover. Varane was caught in two worlds, and the domino effect saw Bonaventure make an unchallenged run into the box:

Almost immediately after, Casemiro lost possession deep in Real Madrid’s half, giving Brugge an opportunity to attack. Real Madrid dodged it, as they did on various other giveaways throughout the half (Casemiro twice, Hazard once, Varane once). Finally, it was Modric’s giveaway late in the half that eventually went punished:

In between it all, Real Madrid held a high line which did not hold up well — mostly because the team did not hold possession in a controlling manner, and there was no counter-press to prevent Brugge getting high up the pitch. Brugge’s two forwards, Tau and Bonaventure, played off the shoulder of the defensive line. Anytime they received the ball, they were either marginally offside in good positions, or getting the ball in Real Madrid’s half with only Ramos and Varane to beat.

It didn’t help, either, that Real Madrid’s offense was laborious and out of ideas. Lucas Vazquez, over and over again, over-dribbled into defenders and lost possession. On the opposite flank, Hazard (again), looked leg-heavy. (It should be noted that Hazard’s issues just might be beyond match fitness, as he was even misplacing easy passes and had trouble with his first touch — although even those can technically be attributed to lack of match fitness. It’s just that he seems to suffer from confidence issues as well.)

There were no real moments of individual brilliance to carry the offense, and the only player really keeping the attack afloat was Toni Kroos, who acted as a ball-carrier, creator, and got into good shooting positions without connecting on any of his shots efficiently in the first half.

One answer could’ve been to give Hazard more freedom in between the lines rather than having him stationed on the left and swarmed by defenders. His most dangerous sequence came in the second half where he made a rare run down the center of the field, received the ball in open water, and carried the ball to the top of the box for a shot that went wide. He did not appear in that zone again.

At half-time, Zidane brought on Marcelo and Areola for Nacho and Courtois. At the time of writing this, it’s unclear why Courtois was subbed off, but we’ll know soon enough. My guess is the Belgian keeper had a knock, as it’s hard to see Zidane burning a second sub at half-time in a situation where the team needs a huge comeback, while there were four offensive-minded options on the bench that Isco, Jovic, Marcelo, and Vinicius Jr.

The second half started with a barrage of crosses, which were generally overhit or cleared. That is until Ramos (who was making darting runs in the box at the start of the half) connected at the far post for a header.

Bar one sequence where Ramos gave the ball away and Areola came up huge point blank on the counter, Real Madrid kept Brugge away from any danger, and started to really pile on the pressure with about 15 minutes to go.

In the 84th minute, Brugge midfielder Ruud Vormer received a red card, and on the ensuing free-kick, Casemiro equalized with a header of his own.

The match had a frantic ending, with Real Madrid pushing for their third — but to no avail. We’ll break this down further in the coming hours. Post-game podcast coming live from the Bernabeu shortly.

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