Elche 1 - 1 Real Madrid (Chaves; Modric). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and plenty more.
Real Madrid’s last game of the calendar year encompassed some of the trends that arose for the team in 2020. One trend in particular that stood out: The struggles of penetrating an organized low block.
Tonight, Elche, whose head manager Jorge Almiron stayed home due to testing positive for coronavirus, were managed by assistant Jesus Muñoz, and stayed compact defensively, while hoping to create danger on the counter-attack from Fidel Chaves, Lucas Boye, and Emiliano Rigoni. Fidel had some success against Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal, though nothing major. Rigoni exploited the space left behind by Marcelo on the opposite side, and Boye was Elche’s main offensive lynchpin.
Where Elche were vulnerable: 1) Facing Real Madrid’s long balls over the top, particularly through the runs of Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez on the wings; and 2) the onslaught of the manic Real Madrid counter-press, which they escape just twice on my count in the first half, and one of them was because Karim Benzema slipped. Even on that sequence, Varane’s defensive intervention won the ball back, and Real Madrid actually ended up scoring:
Something in the second half clicked for Elche, and they came out in the second-frame an improved passing side. They continued to do well closing passing lanes, and bar a couple passes out of the back to Benzema, Real Madrid didn’t have the same success with balls over the top.
In the 52nd minute, Carvajal committed a clear foul in the box. It was clumsy, and he had been so good in this game on both ends up until that point. Elche equalized through a penalty, and some 14 minutes later, nearly took the lead after exploiting the space Marcelo left behind him. Lucas Boye shot just wide from inside the box as the rest of Real Madrid’s defense was spread thin covering for Marcelo.
Offensively, there was little movement from Real between the lines, particularly in zone 14, or anywhere centrally. Casemiro took that mantle the most, but the offense was stagnant and predictable. Martin Odegaard would’ve, in theory, helped with this, but he didn’t get off the bench (nor did he even warm up), and Zidane’s subs: Fede Valverde, Eden Hazard, Vinicius Jr, had little-to-no-impact.
Tonight’s post-game podcast is free. We’ll break this down in a lot more detail then.