Real Madrid Femenino defeated Athletic Club 1-0 on Sunday to jump to fifth in the Primera Iberdrola table. The start of the season has been promising for Las Blancas. In 2019/20, as CD Tacón, the team finished tenth and allowed 48 goals. Their goals against figure was the worst in the 21-match league season that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Real Madrid Femenino invested in nine players this summer and completely revamped the backline because the defense clearly needed to improve. Coach David Aznar has found his ideal back four: right back Kenti Robles, right/left back Marta Corredera, center back Babett Peter, and center back Ivana Andrés. Three of these players joined before the start of this season and have helped make a drastic difference defensively — none more so than Ivana Andrés.
The right-sided center back joined from Levante UD, where she helped guide a team and defense to the third best position in the league the prior two seasons, ranking only behind only FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.
Upon joining Real Madrid, she was immediately handed the captain’s armband. This demonstrated the club’s and Aznar’s faith in what she could provide on the field and in her leadership ability.
Real Madrid is still not a defensive powerhouse. They have allowed nine goals in seven matches. But this can be contextualized. The first four of those goals were against Barcelona in the first match of the season. Barcelona are the perennial powerhouse in Spanish women’s football and have scored 24 goals in five matches without conceding so far this season.
Since that match, Las Blancas have only allowed five goals in six matches — a much better start than the previous season. A large part of this defensive renaissance can be attributed to Ivana Andrés, who once again proved that she is one of Real Madrid’s most consistent players in her partidazo against Athletic Club on the weekend.
Ivana Andrés showed her ability to control the game offensively and defensively from the center back position. She is a born leader, who can be seen pointing and yelling to instruct her teammates where to pass or move next.
She is also a proactive defender. She often drifts side to side and up the pitch to put in tackles. This was especially evident as she tracked one of the best attacking players in the league all over the pitch vs. Athletic.
Los Leones’ Lucía García came into the match with four goals — tied for second most in the league. She is a promising attacker and the future of the Spanish National Team. Ivana Andrés caused her nothing but headaches and frustration.
Ivana limited Lucía García from getting involved in the match. The Real Madrid captain put in well-timed challenges, cut-off aerial service, and pushed up aggressively to pick her pocket when García dropped deep to receive the ball.
The former Levante defender is very intelligent positionally and has a good amount of pace. She is able to read passing lanes, allowing her to intercept passes in behind the defense and blow up more advanced action in front of her and in the midfield. When she wins the ball, she knows when to clear it and when to build from the back.
Ivana Andrés almost always looks in control defensively and is not much worse with the ball at her feet. She is Misa’s preferred passing option when building from the back. Ivana helps dictate the tempo of the build-up and is confident on the ball. She has a great range of passes, which was demonstrated by her ability to hit cross-field deliveries into space against the Basque club.
The captain also contributed to progressing the attack. Her awareness allows her to find penetrative, line-breaking passes that get Real Madrid moving forward in space by eliminating the first rank of pressure. Ivana is also not afraid to take the space afforded to her. Her runs into midfield with the ball helped unlock Athletic at times. It forced defenders to step up to her, leaving a Real Madrid attacker or midfielder unmarked.
Ivana Andrés’ performance against Athletic Club was arguably her best of the season. But she has been putting in solid performances game in and game out. She is a rock at the back and the vocal leader Real Madrid need. The Aielo de Malferit defender is only 26 and could be the long-serving captain Las Blancas need for this new project.