Atletico Madrid lose 1 - 3 to Real Madrid (Griezmann; Casemiro, Ramos, Bale). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
This was a ‘proper’ derby in every sense — plenty of tension, adrenaline, bone-crunching tackles, referee controversy, missed decisions, and just one of those games in a hostile atmosphere you just want to grind out and come away with three points and no injuries.
And Real Madrid did just that. This was a professional victory from Solari’s men, in a difficult game where they did their scoring in the first half, while weathering storms throughout the 90.
Real Madrid didn’t pin Atletico Madrid in this match, as they’re accustomed to doing regularly at the Bernabeu (they only had two real brief phases of counter-pressing in both halves, and their dominance in possession didn’t necessarily reflect their stranglehold on the game as Atletico’s press and defensive shape was unsurprisingly efficient), but they looked compact enough defensively, got really good defensive performances from the back, Reguilon and Carvajal in particular, were very good on the flanks.
Sergio Ramos and Varane too. Ramos had a classic ‘Capi’ match. He threw around a few defenders in the box on Real Madrid’s goal, and as Atletico collapsed on him (clearly perpetually traumatized by la Decima), they left Casemiro wide open:
Casemiro had a really good game as the team’s anchor. He spent most of his time deep, and was spread quite evenly covering both flanks as needed. Positionally, he was sound, and had the most tackles of anyone on the field.
His Brazilian counterpart, Vinicius Jr, was another standout performer. Apart from a giveaway early which led to a really good chance for Thomas Partey in the box (we’re not going to count the other giveaway which led to Griezmann’s goal, which he was clearly fouled on), he had a really good offensive game (and did well to read passing lanes that went down the wing).
Keep in mind, this is not an easy game to play well offensively in, given it’s Atletico. Gimenez and Godin were barking at him early on, the stadium was hostile, and space was tight. But Vinicius, as has been the norm with him this season, didn’t let that phase him. He kept going at Atletico, had a gorgeous outside-of-the-boot pass to Vazquez (please let this continue to be a thing), and got his revenge on Gimenez by burning him to earn a penalty which Sergio Ramos converted to make it 1 - 2.
The second half had a lot of stoppages, which maybe hurt Atletico more than it did Real Madrid, despite that it was the Rojiblanco who were aggressing and fouling Solari’s men all over the field. Eventually Atletico collapsed and conceded a third goal. An excellent vertical pass from Reguilon, and a nice attacking sequence between Modric and Benzema to find Gareth Bale (who came in for Vinicius off the bench):
This was fun. It wasn’t Real Madrid’s most dominant game, but it might just qualify as my favourite performance under Solari so far, given how much heart the team showed in such a heated atmosphere. Everyone remained solid and cohesive, and they unnerved Atletico while limiting their attacks.
The team now has cut Barcelona’s lead to five points; while Barca have a game in hand.
We’ll break this down more in the coming hours.