This Real Madrid team is not the same as last season’s, blowing away a Rayo Vallecano side that finished two places above CD Tacón in the previous edition of the Primera Iberdrola. Granted, this was Rayo’s first game of the season (due to a covid-induced late preseason), but the level of dominance on display was unlike anything we witnessed in 2019/20.
Real Madrid bossed the game from start to finish and could’ve scored a lot more. Within the opening minutes of the match, Las Blancas already had two goals ruled out. The first was on a corner and for a supposed foul and the second was for a very questionable offside decision on Jessica Martínez. Given the disallowed goals in the previous two games, it would’ve been easy for the players to drop their heads and figure that today wasn’t their day. Instead, they pushed on with increasing intensity and picked up a well-deserved goal to end the half, virtue of a brilliant strike from Maite Oroz. The goods continued to be produced in the second period, as Madrid doubled their lead through Asllani after a Kenti-Cardona one-two. Minutes later, Jessica got a deserved goal after Jakobsson put in a good cross from the left.
Below are some major takeaways. Player ratings and a post-game pod will follow.
- With Kaci pushing up very aggressively, Maite Oroz was often the sole central presence in deeper areas. She distributed swiftly, dribbled around pressure, fed the ball through tight windows through clever flicks, and committed tactical fouls to stop Rayo’s counters. To top it off, she absolutely thrashed in the opener off of a corner kick rebound. She has a strong case for player of the match.
- Kenti Robles is a ridiculously potent offensive weapon, period — not just for a right back. It feels like she’ll pull off at least one incredible dribbling move per game and her decisive off-ball movements and desire to initiate one-two’s provide easy offense down our right.
- Real Madrid weren’t perfect defensively. There were a couple moments where they looked dangerously exposed in defensive transition, with only Maite Oroz, Ivana Andrés, and Babett Peter behind the ball, but Rayo were mostly unable to take advantage. The exception came in the 56th minute, immediately after Real scored their second. Madrid simply fell asleep and Rayo waltzed through Aznar’s midfield to get themselves back in the game. The All Whites might’ve hit back instantly, but such mental lapses must be stamped out before Madrid come up against tougher competition.
- Real Madrid’s attack continued an Aznar theme of being heavily wing-oriented. With talent like Marta Cardona and Sofia Jakobsson (who are versatile enough to swap flanks as they did in the 2nd half), that’s a pretty good strategy, but it left Asllani a bit disconnected from play. Her only touches of any note came from dropping excessively deep or by attacking the box to get on the end of one of Madrid’s many crosses. Though she ended up making a decisive contribution in the 55th minute, reducing her role to that of a classic striker minimizes her total potential impact. There’s no need to stop being wing-oriented but there’s room to diversify and look to find Asllani between the lines.
- Marta Corredera, a natural right back, might be our starting left back for the rest of the season. She played well in the role today, cutting inside and acting as an auxiliary central midfielder — while Cardona kept the width — and looked confident dribbling into and out of tight spaces.
- Jessica Martínez might be the most underrated attacker on the team. She doesn’t have the technical brilliance of some of her teammates, but her ability to sniff out great positions in the box & ditch markers provides immense and unique (for our context) value. She is Asllani’s ideal strike partner.