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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2 - 0 Celta Vigo

Real Madrid start 2021 with three points

Real Madrid v RC Celta - La Liga Santander Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid 2 - 0 Celta Vigo (Vazquez, Asensio). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and plenty more analysis.

The first test of 2020 was against a new-look, in from, revived Celta side which Eduardo Coudet has resuscitated. It was apparent by half-time, if not earlier, what Celta were all about: Possession-based football, with intent to press. Coudet’s side had nearly 60% possession in the first half, and in a largely uneventful 45 minutes (from a non-tactical perspective, at least) were vulnerable on counter-attacks.

None of that was a huge problem for Zinedine Zidane’s men, who were quiet offensively, but in-tact defending Courtois’s goal. With some irony, their opening goal of the game actually came on the back of a huge Iago Aspas chance. Nolito broke Real’s back-line with a gorgeous pass over the top to Aspas in the box. Nacho dropped behind Courtois to clear Aspas’s shot, and Celta couldn’t defend a piercing counter:

Blink, and you might even see Cristiano Ronaldo sprinting to the far post to reach an Asensio cross in 2017.

(I am only half-joking, Ronaldo Twitter.)

Asensio’s run and accurate cross was a good sign, and did encompass how involved he was in this game. Even when his crosses were overhit (he had at least two, by my notes), his activity off the ball was important offensively, and it was his goal that sealed this game in the second half:

Asensio’s goal was created from a Luka Modric interception — one of many great reads he had in this game alongside Toni Kroos and Casemiro.

As Real Madrid kept an option-based pressing scheme almost all game, they forced Celta out wide as Vazquez and Asensio tucked narrow. They improved in closing Celta’s vertical passing lanes as the match wore on, and Celta didn’t threaten much in the final third — especially after Iago Aspas had to leave the game injured from a heavy Nacho challenge in the 51st minute.

One strange moment: Dani Carvajal picked up a yellow as he was being subbed off, meaning he’ll miss the next game against Osasuna.

We’ll break this down in a ton more detail on tonight’s free podcast. This was a pretty interesting one to dissect.

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