Tottenham beat Real Madrid 1 - 0 (Kane) in the Audi Cup. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Post-game podcast, player ratings, and tactical review.
It wasn’t quite seven goals conceded, but it wasn’t particularly inspiring either. Defensively, Real Madrid defended in a medium 4-4-2 block, allowing Tottenham time and space to progress the ball forward. Offensively, Zinedine Zidane deployed Eden Hazard in a free-roaming 10 role. But, as has been a trend, the team struggled getting the ball into dangerous areas in the final third.
Give Tottenham credit for setting the tone early with a really efficient high press, which saw Marcelo and Modric left with little to no options to advance possession. Maybe that pressure got to Real Madrid’s heads enough to stifle their confidence even when they weren’t pressured. As Tottenham’s press waned, Real Madrid were still giving the ball away unforced, and Tottenham’s opening goal came as a result of an errant Eden Hazard pass, that left Ramos and Marcelo undecided on who would go for it. Marcelo’s attempt to keep the ball in play, was, uh — not good:
Real Madrid weren’t making prolific mistakes defensively the way they did against Atletico, but all it took was one really bad miscue for the team to get punished, and some of the defensive touches Raphael Varane had dealing with low crosses were really poor. Keylor Navas had a great game covering up some of the blemishes, making great saves throughout the game to keep it at just 1 - 0.
One thing to note, amid all of the eyesore that Real Madrid was offensively — Hazard clearly not being in peak physical shape, Lucas Vazquez having a nightmare gave with every touch and pass being marked as a failure, and Karim Benzema and Luka Modric’s touch being off — Rodrygo Goes was a bright spot. We didn’t see it much, but anytime Rodrygo had space to attack in transition he continually made the right play — dribbling past players and laying the ball off at the right moment. Defensively, he also applied good pressure, and even scored an off-side goal at the far post in the second half.
This game wasn’t as eventful as previous pre-season matches. Maybe that’s a good thing. There is still a lack of spark in the team, and as I mentioned in a Twitter thread at half-time, there are some holes in the ‘it’s just preseason’ argument, as this is a reflection of the state of the club — one that’s been stagnant and even regressive in it’s confidence and tactical plan for about two years now. If Zidane’s plan is to stick with an ageing core for the majority of the games, it’s already apparent that rejuvenating this nucleus is not going to be easy.