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Immediate Reaction: UD Granadilla Tenerife Egatesa 2 - 1 Real Madrid Femenino

Las Blancas falter in a game inundated with tactical alterations.

Real Madrid Femenino V RC Deportivo De La Coruna - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

Real Madrid Femenino lost 2-1 to one of the most in-form sides in the league in UD Granadilla Tenerifie. Below are my immediate thoughts, which will be followed by player ratings and a post-match pod.

  • Granadilla mimicked Eibar last game by actively trying to create a chaotic, physical environment. The home side didn’t quite press in such a cohesive or aggressive manner, but definitely looked to institute a high line of engagement that became quite intense once Real Madrid directed possession out wide. On the ball, Granadilla were rather direct. If they weren’t going route one from goal kicks, they used defensive midfielder Natalia Ramos to beat Madrid’s front two and play balls into the flanks, channels, and the imposing Martin-Prieto.
  • Like on Sunday, Las Blancas looked rather flustered and rushed. There was little in the way of any consistency in how they built from the back, with everyone operating on different wavelengths. When the center backs pushed up, indicating a desire to go long, Kenti Robles would drop asking for a short pass. If she received the ball, there were no supporting options behind her and she immediately had to play into pressure. Teresa Abelleira dropped to provide relief but she was often ignored/the work needed to find her was declined in favor of rushed vertical passes.
  • María José Pérez and Poljak were menaces in the first half. Within the introductory minutes, Mari José juggled the ball on the right, played a one-two to get herself free down the right, and delivered a switch that allowed Poljak to cut inside past Kenti and fire at Misa. Poljak continued to dribble at the defense and was primed to run off-the-shoulder while Mari José looked to get into the box on the blind-side. In the 32nd minute, the veteran winger latched onto a cross from Poljak in the six-yard box to force Misa into a point blank save.
  • Around the 38th minute, Madrid finally had a sustained spell of possession in the middle to final thirds. Instead of frantically playing into the packed space, the Merengues rotated the ball to the far side and forced Granadilla to shift over. As the defense transitioned, Corredera played a line-breaking pass and Madrid entered the opposition half. Eventually, Teresa got on the ball in an advanced area and slipped in Asllani, who struck the post.
  • Aznar clearly saw the issues in the first forty-five minutes and brought on Kaci for Chioma in the 51st, changing the formation to a 4-3-3. This made Thaisa the clear focal point and consistent free player, while providing another midfield body who could move between the lines. Granadilla were unsure how to adapt, as their 4-1-4-1 naturally matched up player to player with Madrid’s previous 4-4-2; who steps up onto Thaisa and how do you shift the midfield so as to mark the interior left behind?
  • The tactical shift immediately gave Madrid more control and attacking verve. Almost immediately after the sub, Teresa played a one-two with Thaisa to break past a disorganized midfield line and play Cardona down the left. The 1v1 queen beat an incoming defender, sized up another, and fired a cross into the box. The referee pointed to the spot for a handball and Asllani converted to put Real up 1-0.
  • Granadilla began to back off towards the halfway line, with Martin-Prieto moving to Thaisa and the midfield line seeking to plug the passing lanes. This gave Madrid even more control but made it harder to play the penetrative balls and combinations that led to the first goal. In the 63rd minute, Granadilla hit back from a free-kick near the halfway line. Martin-Prieto overpowered everyone in the box and pulled off a flick-on that defender Patricia Gavira Collado dispatched. Madrid’s defending in this instance wasn’t great.
  • Both coaches reacted with substitutions; Aznar removing Asllani for Jessica Martínez in the 69th and Francis Díaz bringing off Martin-Prieto and Silvia Doblado for Ana González and Koko, respectively, in the 73rd. Koko moved to the right wing to pick up where Mari José had left off (she was subbed off for forward Adamek in the 61st) and immediately sought to take on Corredera 1v1. Koko made an instant impact, providing the assist for the winning goal after she was played in from the right halfspace. Both Cardona and Corredera were slow to get to her and midfielder Pleuler made an untracked run into the box to score from an excellent shot location.
  • Aznar brought on Lorena Navarro for Sofia Jakobsson right after conceding, but it made little difference. Granadilla were doing something weird defensively for a bit, with Poljak stepping up to create a 4-4-2 mid-block (it led to a Jessica header after Teresa was found free in the center), but that was soon scrapped when the dangerous #11 was subbed off for Katie Murray, transforming the team into a back five.
  • Madrid desperately tried to pick up the equalizer, pumping balls into the box and getting possession into the feet of Marta Cardona, but Granadilla held firm and gave nothing away.
  • There is plenty to critique and praise tactically from both coaches — I still haven’t wrapped my head around all that has happened. One thing that Aznar will definitely get flak for was his decision to sub off Asllani, who looked good in her time on the pitch. Jessica did direct a header on target in the moment previously described, but she was unable to get on the end of any other chances.
  • Kenti Robles didn’t have her best game. She had a couple shocking giveaways in the first half and didn’t enjoy as much time in the final third as she would’ve liked. Her deliveries into the box were mostly dealt with.
  • Misa had a few of those moments where you almost got a heart attack. In the 19th minute, she misjudged the flight of a free-kick and her poor punch almost fell to Martin-Prieto. Chioma was on hand to deal with it. In another moment, Misa came way off her line to stop a dangerous attack but her pass went straight to the opposition; there were a few precious seconds where a long shot might’ve gone into an unguarded net.