Real Madrid Femenino drew 1-1 away to Sevilla in a very evenly contested game defined by a high level of intensity from both sides. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow.
- Real Madrid got off to a great start in the 6th minute, when Teresa Abelleira played a pass into the box that Aivi Luik completely miscontrolled, allowing Lorena Navarro to poke a well-placed finish past the keeper.
- Las Blancas entered a sort of a flow state on the ball over the next 15 minutes or so. Players were finding each other without looking, the combinations were coming off, and they had a fair amount of control over the game, which was helped by a 4-4-2 high press with Teresa stepping up. What was lacking were the chances and Sevilla’s desire to lay down.
- Early on, Toni Payne burned Olga Carmona and put in a cut-back that Claudia Pina couldn’t do enough with. The American was dangerous all half and seemed like Sevilla’s way back into the game. Sevilla did so through a different method, scoring off a set-piece; Lucía Ramos dispatched an inch-perfect delivery between three defenders.
- Sevilla’s comeback was accompanied with a commitment to a high press, mimicking Real Madrid and ensuring a tightly contested game. The red and white’s midfield line did look over-stressed at times thanks to a lack of clarity on how high the last line should be, but Madrid weren’t able to exploit it decisively enough; Sevilla were usually able to recover and pin the opposition on the flanks.
- Real Madrid’s main positive in that first half was their press constantly forcing Sevilla long. The latter came out more prepared to take advantage of their route one strategy in the 2nd half, supporting Karlernäs’ superiority in the air with Claudia Pina close by and the wingers ready to take off if the second ball was won. Sevilla also steadily began to dial back the press, looking to draw Madrid onto them and use the pace of Toni Payne to get in behind. The strategy found some joy early on and very late in the game, but ultimately resulted in more pressure being placed on Sevilla’s box.
- As Madrid started to look out of ideas and reliant on speculative long shots to make something happen, David Aznar brought off Teresa Abelleira for Marta Corredera and Jessica Martínez for Lorena Navarro. The formation changed to a 4-4-2, with Corredera playing on the left wing and Sofia Jakobsson joining Jessica up top. The plan, as it often is, was to get another player in the box and cross their way to victory.
- Jessica did get a great opportunity at the back post but could only head her effort off-target. Given the low volume of shots for both sides, it was a huge chance. Jessica got another shot off in the 85th minute, once again benefitting from some excellent work from Kenti, but it was a much tougher attempt on this occasion and the substitute placed her attempt wide.
- Aznar went for the weirdest set of subs of all in the 90th minute, bringing off Marta Cardona for Claudia Florentino and Maite Oroz for Ariana Arias. I’m not even going to pretend to understand what the formation was. This is one for the film review.