Real Madrid 4 - 1 Huesca (Hazard, Benzema x2, Valverde; Ferreiro). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, post-game podcast, and plenty more analysis.
An early kick-off at Valdebebas saw Real Madrid take on a visiting Huesca — a side that came to Alfredo di Stefano in banks of four, with the aim to clog as many channels as possible while using their center-forward Rafa Mir as an outlet behind Real Madrid’s defensive line to slingshot passes to from deep.
For the first 40 minutes or so, this story wrote itself. Traditionally in earlier kick-offs, Real Madrid need time to wake up and shake off the invisible weights dragging off their legs. Huesca did well to plug the half-spaces, making it nearly impossible for Luka Modric to combine with Marcelo, Benzema, and Hazard on the left. What resulted was u-shaped possession — slow build-up with side to side passing until a full-back could swing in a diagonal cross to Sergio Ramos sprinting into the box. Huesca were happy with that, and even had chances of their own, usually by by-passing Real’s loose press and getting the ball in-behind Marcelo and Militao.
In the 40th minute, a moment of individual brilliance unlocked the game:
There is a clear ‘before-and-after’ point in this match, with Hazard’s goal being the moment this game changed course. To round out the final five minutes of the half after the goal, Real Madrid took control of possession, played with more confidence, and through a Lucas Vazquez cross and Benzema finish, took a two-goal lead into half-time:
The first 40 minutes was not inspiring from Real Madrid. They were slow in their build-up, and vulnerable defensively. Hazard’s goal was something the team needed (and will continue to need on a game-to-game basis if the team is going to struggle breaking low-blocks.)
In the second half, a nice transition sequence, started by Hazard deep, was capped with a Benzema assist to Fede Valverde, whose control and finish was smooth and calculated to make it 3 - 0:
Huesca pulled one back in the 74th minute through David Ferreiro, who took advantage of Ramos and Marcelo falling asleep defending the far-post. That was all before Benzema restored order with a goal of his own.
4-1: Benzema passes out wide, then sprints into the box to meet Rodrygo's headed-back cross— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) October 31, 2020
This was a fun win, and dare we hope — four goals that might open some floodgates? To be sure, as the game opened, Huesca became more and more vulnerable defensively, but that doesn’t take away from Real Madrid taking advantage of that after Hazard’s goal.
We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours.