Real Madrid Femenino lost 3-0 against Sevilla away from home, placing the former 13th in the table with 4 points in 7 games.
Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- David Aznar made few changes from the lineup that defeated Breidablik 5-0 in the Champions League, but one of them stood out — Ivana Andrés swapped positions with Babett Peter, playing on the left side of the back three. I can only guess that this was done to counter the threat of the rapid Toni Payne on the right. Whatever the reason, the move was a net negative for Madrid. Ivana looked distinctly uncomfortable driving to the left, eliminating the value she adds from her carrying and vertical passing. Instead, she constantly chopped back inside and looked to play to the far side. Combined with center-back Claudia Florentino roaming down the same side in midfield, Las Blancas were essentially relegated to playing exclusively through one part of the pitch. Aznar admitted his mistake when he put Ivana and Babs back in their natural positions at roughly the 34-minute mark.
- Sevilla barely generated any offensive threat in the first half. However, what little they did resulted in a goal thanks to a worldie from Inma Gabarro.
- It felt cruel, but Madrid spent the next half hour or so doing little to get themselves back in the game. Similar to last season, Aznar’s team approached a deep block with little synergy and a lack of coordinated attacking movements, banking everything on a speculative cross finding someone in the box. Aside from one that Caroline Møller Hansen couldn’t make the most of, Real came up empty-handed.
- Athenea del Castillo’s location in the front two added to the inefficiencies. Against higher defensive lines like Breidablik’s, she added value running off-the-shoulder. Versus the deeper block that Sevilla employed, Athenea followed her natural tendency to drift to the touchline, leaving Møller as the only option in the box at times. Put together with Lorena Navarro’s off-day and Claudia Zornoza’s poor shot selection, Madrid had an extremely tough time creating any real chances.
- If there was any hope of a proper response from Madrid in the second half, that was quickly put to bed by an early goal from the woman of the day: Inma Gabarro.
- Despite Nahikari García coming on for Møller, Lucía Rodriguez for Florentino, and Corredera for Babs, the All Whites experienced no spark and slowly crumbled. What was simply an average performance turned into a bad one and an Athenea ball across the face of goal was about the only danger Madrid created before Sevilla got their third from the spot.
- Of course, it had to be former Real Madrid striker Jessica Martínez who converted and completed the humiliating scoreline.
- Madrid had their chance to obtain a consolation goal from twelve yards out at the death, but Olga put a tame effort into the keeper’s hands.
- Wins over Kharkiv and Breidablik are simply papering over the cracks. Injuries are simply excuses for a team that has lacked a coherent system and sense of tactical direction since day one. Las Blancas’ chances to qualify for the Champions League next season hang off of a precipice (if they haven’t plunged into the depths already). I have zero faith in anyone running the women’s section if they look at all this and think that nothing needs to change.