Sevilla 0 - 1 Real Madrid (Bono OG). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, post-game podcast, and plenty more analysis.
Real Madrid’s second half reaction this season has been largely poor, and in same cases, catastrophically different from their first half performances. Then again, we are setting the bar low here, and by ‘we’, I mean nearly everyone — including Zinedine Zidane himself, who said that Real Madrid deserved to win against Shakhtar based on their first half performance alone. That’s a sad take. The xG was dead even, and Real Madrid were poor on both ends of the field despite some good, split-second moments in the first half which nearly led to a goal.
Today’s first half almost fell right in line. Real Madrid were good in some aspects: Luka Modric was carrying the team on both ends of the field. He was press-resistant, had some beautiful touches out of pressure, and helped free space for Rodrygo on the right. Defensively, he covered on both flanks. Nacho was caught up the field twice, and Modric sprinted to the opposite flank to help Ferland Mendy. Rodrygo would overcommit with his pressing centrally, and Modric would have to shift to a wide open Aleix Vidal. He was everywhere.
Defensively, Varane and Nacho both had good step up interventions, and Luuk de Jong — the target for Sevilla, was kept in check. Thibaut Courtois wasn’t threatened much.
But there were other factors that balanced it out. Real Madrid’s press created two great chances early, both for Vinicius (and one of them, where Vinicius was the main protagonist in winning the ball off Bono), which the Brazilian attacker couldn’t take advantage. But the press was also disjointed throughout, and Sevilla weren’t challenged much in breaking through and finding space.
The theme thus continued: Real Madrid were ‘ok’ in the first half. Their defense held up, but they couldn’t convert chances. The big question loomed: Does the team fall apart in the second half again?
For once, Real Madrid pulled through, even if it wasn’t pretty. It took a nice build-up sequence involving Karim Benzema to set Ferland Mendy free on the left-hand side. Mendy’s low cross found Vinicius, and no matter how much the rules tell us it’s an own goal, Vinicius got an important touch:
Vini Jr. just gets the slightest touch on the cross and it leads to Madrid taking the lead! ⚪— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) December 5, 2020
Bono won't be too pleased with his efforts in the Sevilla goal pic.twitter.com/jkmb8ai1G7
Zidane’s men held on for a narrow win, even with Lopetegui’s subs unlocking some flair in the second half. It’s hard to see Real sustaining that kind of performance again — relying on half chances and lack of offensive efficiency, scraping by on defensively-sound displays — but it is a theme that won them the league title last season, and earned them three points tonight in a difficult game.
We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours.