Real Madrid continue to hold destiny in their own hands — safeguarding their marginal head-to-head lead over Barcelona which sees them top of the table. Slip once, and that’s gone. Tonight, Zidane’s men dealt with the pressure by beating a Mallorca side that beat them earlier this season at Son Moix.
That game (which had an Alvaro Odriozla red card and boasted Isco as a defensive midfielder in a double pivot, and can be read about here) was vastly different to this one. Zidane fielded a double-pivot again, but had planned a sound defensive structure. Gareth Bale tucked in narrow often to help Modric and Fede Valverde in midfield; while Ferland Mendy and Vinicius were able to keep Pozo and Kubo in check on the flank. Mallorca struggled defensively, and didn’t have an answer to Vinicius Jr’s off-ball runs. Every time Luka Modric, Fede Valverde, Eden Hazard, or Karim Benzema looked up, they already had Vinicius sprinting into a dangerous position to catch Mallorca’s defensive line napping. Vinicius was a constant outlet. Relentless in his pursuit of getting the ball into the box as fast as possible.
O golaço do Vinicius Jr pelo Real Madrid!!— Flamenguismo (@flamenguismo_) June 24, 2020
That was the opening goal. Six minutes later, Vinicius received a disguised through-ball from Karim Benzema, this time hitting the bar (maybe getting carried away with his momentum from the last chip-shot):
OFF THE BAR!! @Benzema almost tees up @viniciusjr for his second, but the Brazilian hits the crossbar! | Every @LaLiga match LIVE only on beIN SPORTS available via @Kayosports, @Foxtel & Fetch! https://t.co/IQF8hX4m7u | #RealMadridRCDMallorca #RMAMAL pic.twitter.com/VRbMGKIK8D— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) June 24, 2020
Offensively, it was hard for Mallorca to get going. Some of that is down to their struggles in general: Outside of Kubo’s creation, they don’t get consistent help. Sometimes Budimir and Junior chip in, sometimes they don’t. Against teams that dominate the ball, they tend to struggle getting the ball into dangerous attacking positions. Today, Lago Junior burned Dani Carvajal a couple times before getting a good cross in. They did not have penetration down the middle, and on the opposite flank, relied on Kubo sizing up multiple white shirts. Kubo succeeded in getting into the box on one instance where he hit the side netting from a tight angle. On the right flank, Pozo had no chance against Ferland Mendy.
The second half was less eventful, particularly after Sergio Ramos iced the game with a free-kick:
We’ll break this all down in further detail (Bale’s performance, standout players, questions, tactical schemes, and more) on tonight’s post-game podcast for our Patrons.