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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 3 - 1 Eibar

The second half was uninspiring, but Real Madrid return from quarantine with an important win.

Real Madrid CF v SD Eibar SAD - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid beat Eibar 3 - 1 (Kroos, Marcelo, Ramos; Bigas). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, match review, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and plenty more tactical observations.

Diego Forlan said recently that many La Liga players didn’t have a yard to run around in during the pandemic in order to stay in shape. Eibar — a team that initially didn’t want to return to football during the COVID-19 pandemic — didn’t have the same resources Real Madrid players had to keep their fitness levels high. In the first half of this match, that was all too apparent.

Real Madrid didn’t exert much in the final third, yet, found themselves up 3 - 0 at half — with little attacking output or penetration into Eibar’s half outside of those (admittedly great) sequences. That’s not a knock on Zidane’s men — there was an efficiency to it. On Real Madrid’s first goal, Toni Kroos slung a flamethrower from outside the box. On the second goal, Sergio Ramos sprinted into the box after making a vertical pass to Karim Benzema on the break. Ramos’s run threw Eibar’s defense into whack, and Hazard found the Spanish center-back for tap in. On the third goal, some beautiful interchange between Hazard and Benzema eventually led to Marcelo popping up for a rebound on the far side.

(Kroos’s goal possibly shouldn’t have counted. Only one replay was shown on the telecast, which showed Benzema was offside in the build-up to the goal.)

Eibar generated little offense in turn. At half-time, it was very difficult to see a way back for them.

Eibar manager Jose Luis Mendilibar opted not to make any changes at half-time. That seemed to be a counter-intuitive choice. But whatever he tweaked at half-time from a psychological perspective, it worked. Eibar started to attack with more purpose — moving better without the ball, making more daring passes, and dribbling more to find openings. Real Madrid looked like they had switched off at half-time in a routine pickup game.

In the 57th minute, Edu Exposito dribbled into space and tested Thibaut Courtois from distance — forcing a corner. From the ensuing corner, substitute Sergi Enrich hit the crossbar from a header. Three minutes later, Pedro Bigas scored a freak deflected goal to make it 3 - 1.

Eibar continued to exert efforts, but didn’t come closer than that. Likewise, Real Madrid didn’t make a push to extend their lead. Vinicius Jr and Gareth Bale (particularly Vinicius) had a couple moments in transition, but neither were effective.

We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours — including discussion on Zidane’s lineup, substitution, and tactics. Stay tuned for tonight’s post-game podcast.

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