Real Madrid lose 3 - 7 to Atletico Madrid (Nacho, Benzema, Hernandez; Costa x 5, Felix, Correa, Vitolo). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, and post-game podcast.
Where to start? In the most simple terms, this was a complete massacre. Real Madrid took to the Metlife Stadium against an Atletico Madrid side who were in full stride — attacking with purpose and picking Real Madrid apart mercilessly. Atleti scored five goals in the first half. Diego Costa scored three of them. Joao Felix was brilliant with his off-ball movement to receive the ball behind Real Madrid’s midfield before playing a slick through-pass. Real Madrid were giving the ball away in dangerous positions over and over again. Higher up the pitch, they gave the ball away unforced. They spoon-fed Atletico counter attacks. Atletico, a team that has laboured through 1 - 0 wins for several years and has looked toothless on counter attacks, looked like they were going to score every time they won possession.
Atletico could’ve had more than five goals in the first half, as wild as that sounds. Just before they scored their fifth, Odriozola left an Atletico player wide open for a header on a corner. Courtois saved it. Joao Felix forced Courtois into another save from point blank. In the second half, those chances extended to more clear-cut opportunities that Atletico couldn’t finish.
On Atletico’s first goal, which came in the first minute, Odriozola gave the ball away. On their second, Modric got upset with Vinicius for not coming to the ball and letting Atletico win the ball in the box — then Toni Kroos failed to close down the cut-back while Isco watched Felix make an unchallenged run to score. On Atletico’s fourth, Ramos gave the ball away from the back with an errant pass to Modric. Everything was a mess, and with each goal Real conceded, their body language got pummelled.
Vinicius Jr hit the post, and missed a point-blank chance in the first half. He played on the right, which was intriguing (we want to see how he can coexist with Hazard), but his performance there wasn’t encouraging. He didn’t defend well, and Atletico locked him down completely. Renan Lodi and Thomas Lemar would dispossess Vinicius anytime he tried to dribble past them. The only really good offensive sequences he had was when he could make a through-pass to an overlapping Odriozola.
Preseason or not, this was humiliating for Real Madrid. There is always a case, or an excuse, that allows fans to say “it’s just preseason”. You’d also be within your rights to be worried about what you saw, regardless of the magnitude of the game. This wasn’t just a bad loss. It was a 7 - 3 loss and a lifeless performance. Something to keep in mind, when discussing which signings could theoretically solve the team’s problems: No single player on earth waltzes into this team and prevents seven goals. Real Madrid have had schematic issues for over two years now. Zidane needs to figure those out before the season starts.
Post-game podcast will be saved for Sunday night, as we’re doing it in person in New York. Buy tickets here, if you haven’t already.