Real Madrid Femenino defeated CD Santa Teresa at the death in a tense, complicated victory that easily could’ve been a draw just as it could’ve been a more comfortable win. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow.
- CD Santa Teresa assumed a very conservative defensive stance from the very start of the match, declining to press and inviting Real Madrid into the middle third. As we’ve come to expect, Las Blancas quickly moved to the flanks, where Sofia Jakobsson and Marta Cardona looked to generate chaos with their dribbling ability and put crosses into the box. Nothing concrete was created, but Santa Teresa’s accompanying inability to hold possession further upfield allowed Madrid to maintain an extended period of final third pressure, leading to a number of long range shots. One of them was spilled by goalkeeper Yolanda Aguirre Gutiérrez, allowing Kosovare Asllani to leap onto the loose ball and tap it into the back of the net. Gutiérrez went down in great pain and the goal was ruled out for a foul/offside.
- The initial intensity began to die down a bit and it became clearer that Real lacked ideas in the final third. There were a lot of aimless balls over the top that had no real target for a period, and the malaise only became worse when Marta Cardona went off injured in the 33rd minute. Curiously, Aznar decided to sub on Marta Corredera without moving Olga upfield and Sofia to the right. Instead, Corredera played as the right winger. Whether it was coincidental or not, possession almost completely stopped flowing down Marta’s flank until the end of the half. On the bright side, Madrid did create their best chance of the half from a corner kick in the 40th minute, which Claudia Florentino directed well over the bar.
- Aznar changed Corredera’s position in the second half, but deployed her as a left winger while Olga stayed at left back. Corredera operated in an inverted manner while Carmona was given even more license to bomb upfield and assume the width.
- The initial 20 minutes of the 2nd half had that same urgency that was seen in the first. The tempo was high, the crosses became more voluminous, and the likes of Maite Oroz, Olga Carmona, and Kenti Robles sought to disorganize the defense with their dribbling. But some of the combinations seemed forced and Santa Teresa again managed to prevent anything clear-cut from open play.
- The 2nd period saw a number of changes in an attempt to break the deadlock. At the half hour mark, Thaisa came on for Teresa Abelleira, followed by Ariana Arias and Lorena Navarro replacing Kosovare Asllani and Aurélie Kaci, respectively, around 10 minutes later.
- The latter changes shifted Madrid into a 4-4-2, with Lorena and Ari leading the line, though it became harder and harder to discern the offensive shape as David Aznar’s team became increasingly desperate. At some point Corredera and Olga swapped positions, while Sofia drifted over to the left with no one rotating over to take up her vacant place on the opposite side. It was an odd look, but Sofia did create the best open play shot of the game from that area when she set up Ari for a decent opportunity that she poked wide.
- On the flip side, the disorganization gave Santa Teresa glimpses of hope on the counter. Real managed to handle these few situations well enough, but they were at the mercy of their opponents’ quality.
- Santa Teresa looked destined to hold onto the draw as they survived half chance after half chance, but, in the 95th minute, the 4’11” Lorena Navarro found enough space in the box to expertly dispatch a Sofia Jakobsson cross and put Real Madrid up 1-0 to win the game.