Eibar hosted Real Madrid Femenino off the back of some promising form. The newly promoted side had won two of their last five games, drawing one and losing two. One of those defeats came against the formidable Atlético Madrid and only ended 1-0. Despite the fact that Eibar looked right at home in the first division, Aznar rotated, playing Olga Carmona instead of Marta Cardona and going without a ball playing central midfielder. Below are some talking points on the game. Player ratings and post-match podcast will follow.
- Eibar started off on the front foot. They pressed out of their 5-4-1 shape, with one player coming off the midfield line to go 2v2 against the center backs. Real Madrid looked rattled and gave up an early header at the backpost to Sheila and conceded multiple set-pieces.
- There was very little flow to the entire first half. Real Madrid looked completely incapable of establishing control of the game and had to exist in an environment defined by fifty-fifties and transitions, even when Eibar dialed back the press as the first half wore on. Eibar’s defensive structure was well-drilled and their marking was as tight as could be on the flanks. When Las Blancas managed to get into the final third, their wing combinations broke down quickly and the offense looked lost.
- Thus, two of Madrid’s three dangerous open play sequences in the first half came in transition. The first saw Olga Carmona released off-the-shoulder following a duel off of a Madrid goal kick. Her cross-shot floated over the bar. In the 34th minute, Asllani burst over the top after an initial Madrid counter was thwarted, but her first touch didn’t do Jakobsson’s pass justice.
- Four minutes later, Asllani tried to make up for her error by getting on the ball deep for the first time in the game. She played a layoff that allowed Madrid to advance and Olga Carmona delivered a delightful cross to an unmarked Jakobsson, who completely flubbed the shot.
- Madrid ended the first 45 minutes with a Jessica Martínez header from a corner. She was in a great shot location but didn’t make proper contact, causing her effort to fall safely in the hands of the keeper.
- David Aznar reacted to the poor display by subbing on Marta Cardona for Jessica Martínez in the tunnel, though Olga stayed in the nominal striker position (at least to start the half) and kept the 4-4-2 formation. How Madrid equalized had little to do with any adjustment, though, as a Kenti Robles cross caused a handball and Asllani converted from the spot.
- However, Aznar could claim that his sub affected the 2nd goal; Olga Carmona peeled off the front line and into the channel, creating an unexpected and untracked outlet that allowed her to win a foul. The resulting free kick created another handball (Ruth headed it onto her arm) and Asllani found the back of the net again.
- There was no doubt some
fortuneblack magic in how Madrid got back into the game and that reality initially seemed to dispirit the home side. The marking looked looser and the players appeared less committed to their defensive duties. Cardona began to show off her dribbling while Jakobsson and Olga swapped positions and looked to connect. Seeing the need for an injection of energy, coach Jon Gallego made a double substitution in the 56th minute and brought on striker Thembi Kgatlana 180 seconds later. The South African striker made her mark in the 69th, when Queralt Gómez floated in a cross from the right. Kgatlana controlled, cut inside, and blasted a shot into the top corner at the near post.
- The result looked unsure at this point. Eibar were pumping the ball forward earnestly in their classically direct fashion, putting Madrid’s defense under pressure. Relief came in the form of Marta Cardona, though it was Corredera who did the hard work; she won the ball in midfield, beat a defender, and played a throughball to Olga. The 1v1 shot was poor, but the keeper could only deflect it into the path of Cardona, who couldn’t miss from point blank range.
- The scoreline is definitely a little flattering to Real Madrid. The amount of open play creation was limited and the early penalties completely changed the complexion of the match, forcing Eibar to commit more players forward and allowing the away side to enjoy more counter-attacking opportunities. It’s perhaps too early to look very critically at Aznar’s tactics, but it was concerning to see how hapless Madrid looked against organized pressure and committed wing defending. Of course, a double pivot without either Maite Oroz (injured) or Teresa Abelleira (on the bench) makes it more difficult to construct and control play.
- Real Madrid are now 5th in the table with 10 points and have won three on the trot. Eibar drop down to 9th thanks to this result.