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Immediate Reaction: Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - 0 Real Madrid

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Well, Real Madrid lose today’s ‘final’, and that’s not good.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Shakhtar Donestk 2 - 0 Real Madrid (Dentinho, Solomon). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and plenty more analysis.


“A final”, as Zidane put it (and as he always does) before tonight’s game against Shakhtar. “This is the most important match in the group because these three points can put us into the next round,” Zidane said. “That’s what we need to think about.”

Now that scenario has become even more complicated, and we’ll know the true complexity of Real Madrid’s group-stage situation once the game between Inter Milan and Borussia Mönchengladbach concludes later. Knowing how Real Madrid’s season has gone against less open teams this season, coupled with how Real Madrid performed against both Shakhtar and Mönchengladbach already, it’s not a huge surprise to see Real Madrid fail to get a result here tonight.

Today, the process in the first half was better than what it’s been in past games, but that bar is terribly low, and it’s impossible to celebrate any marginal tactical victory if it doesn’t produce a result against a team that currently lies second-place in the Ukrainian Premier League. This is a team with high standards, and historically the bar is set higher than any bar has ever been set by any top team.

Marco Asensio looked alive today, taking players on, and shooting at every opportunity — even hitting the post. Martin Odegaard’s positioning in between the lines, as well as his manic pressing, got Real Madrid in good opportunities again, and Odegaard on his own created three chances in that first frame. Toni Kroos was dynamic in midfield, dribbling well under pressure, and was active defending passing lanes.

Defensively, Real Madrid weren’t threatened much in the first half. Raphael Varane took a yellow card to prevent a Shakhtar break, but the transition defense from everyone was good enough to limit chances to virtually nothing until the second half. Any time Odegaard’s positioning on the press left a gap behind him, Shakhtar’s build-up wasn’t good enough to exploit it.

Eventually all the knocking on the door could not unbolt Shakhtar’s frame, and a poor defensive sequence after a Real Madrid corner saw the team concede a goal that almost didn’t make sense, but maybe that’s why it’s so fitting to this season:

We know how this story goes. Real Madrid now need to chase a game, and as they push forward in the second half, they either complete a comeback which puts a bandaid on an atomic bomb, or, alternatively (and more likely), they concede the final nail:

This the bare bones of a miserable night for Real Madrid. We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours.