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Immediate Reaction: Eibar 0 - 4 Real Madrid

Zidane’s men rip through Ipurua behind a great first half performance from Karim Benzem and Eden Hazard

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Eibar lose 0 - 4 to Real Madrid (Benzema x2, Ramos, Valverde). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.

Eibar are the most aggressive pressing team in Europe, per data from the StatsBomb conference last month held at Stamford Bridge. Those pressing numbers have waned for Mendilibar’s men this season, as they allow just over nine passes per defensive action this season — but they still dedicate their efforts high up the pitch, and rarely deviate from their pressing scheme.

Tonight their identity was their downfall, as Real Madrid broke Eibar in transition by quickly bypassing their press and getting the ball into the final third where Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard had arguably their best half of the season.

Benzema’s touches in this game were crisp. He’d control the ball in a tight space before releasing it wide and darting back into the box to shake his defender and meet the incoming cross. It was no surprise when he broke the deadlock tonight, capping a play he started himself. Hazard and Benzema linked well together in this game, and Eibar’s high line was scorched, with no sequence prettier than this one spearheaded by Eden:

After Benzema opened the scoring with a far-post finish, Real Madrid gained two penalties in the span of nine minutes. Hazard and Lucas Vazquez were both taken down in the box, and Sergio Ramos and Benzema converted the penalties respectively.

At 0 - 3 down, Eibar started to respond by holding the ball and getting the ball to Inui and Orellana on the flanks, in hopes of Sergi Enrich or Kike connecting at the far post from a cross. But Real Madrid, bar a few blips which we’ll get to on tonight’s podcast, defended well enough to keep Eibar out of dangerous areas. Mendilibar’s men racked up the shots, but didn’t trouble Thibaut Courtois.

Courtois, by the way, surpassed Keylor Navas’s record of 518 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal with today’s shutout.

In the second half, Fede Valverde made it 0 - 4 with a gorgeous Kroos-esque low-curler at the near post after receiving a cut-back from Luka Modric:

Miscellaneous notes:

  • There were moments in this game where Real Madrid switched off defensively. Modric was visibly frustrated when the press was broken in the second half, Mendy was beat by De Blasis twice, and Fede lost his marker on a set-piece which nearly resulted in a goal. But this wasn’t a bad game defensively outside of those items, and Real Madrid were the better team on both ends of the field.
  • Karim Benzema surpasses Ferenc Puskas in goals scored for the club in La Liga. He’s been on an entirely different level this season — seemingly getting better at the age of 31, somehow.
  • Mendy was really good overall, again. De Blaisis beat him in the second half a couple times, but Mendy also exploited the space behind the Eibar right-back thoroughly in the first half, and was important bringing the ball up the flank along with Eden Hazard.

We’ll break this down in more detail in the coming hours.

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