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Immediate Reaction: Real Sociedad 3 - 1 Real Madrid Femenino

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Real Sociedad play the game on their terms as Nerea Eizaguirre stars.

@realmadridfem

Real Madrid Femenino were defeated 3-1 by Real Sociedad in an encounter critical to the Champions League qualification picture. With this result, La Real have now closed the gap with Las Blancas to 4 points.

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Below are my immediate thoughts on the game. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow.

  • Real Madrid Femenino burst out of the gates pressing with a ferocious intensity. Aurélie Kaci stepped up alongside Kosovare Asllani in a 4-4-2 structure and harried Real Sociedad’s center-backs into early mistakes, creating a nice counter-attacking action that saw Asllani’s attempt off the cut-back saved.
  • There was a positive general synergy flowing throughout the team in the opening minutes. As Real Sociedad tried to figure out how to establish their possession game, Las Blancas thrived in transition. In the 11th minute, Cardona was unleashed down the right and she cut inside past two players to curl an absolute pearler from distance.
  • However, Real Sociedad slowly began to gain the respect of the opposition, possibly thanks to a neat up-back-through sequence that carved Madrid’s press apart around the 4th minute or so. Though the challenges in midfield remained ferocious, especially with Ivana Andrés hounding Nahikari García, the front two’s intensity slowly began to fall off. This gave Real Sociedad’s center-backs the time they needed to pick out the right pass, something that was made easier by Maitane dropping as the pivot, Nuria Rábano and/or Lucía moving into the back line to create additional overloads, and Nahikari and Nerea Eizaguirre primed to receive vertically in the halfspaces. It didn’t take long for Real Sociedad to make Madrid pay for their timidity, as they forced the visitors into their own half, split the lines, and created the equalizer.
  • Real Sociedad established their hold over the game with another goal early in the 2nd half. Lucía recovered a clearance at the edge of the box and put the ball back into the area, allowing Nerea to hold off Kenti, turn, and rifle a missile past Misa.
  • The game’s flow and rhythm remained on La Real’s terms for the next 15 minutes or so, though no clear-cut chances emerged. Possibly signaling a desire to become more defensive, Natalia Arroyo substituted off Nahikari for Bárbara Latorre. David Aznar reacted by bringing off Kaci and Asllani off for Teresa Abelleira and Jessica Martínez, respectively. Teresa helped establish a greater level of control over the game, though it’s hard to discern her impact from the fact that Real Sociedad seemed content to assume a more defensive stance at this point.
  • However, Arroyo’s cautious approach didn’t come without risks. Increased possession allowed Madrid to attack the box more regularly and Kenti was clearly brought down inside the box by Nuria. The referee watched on, though, and Real Sociedad continued to threaten to end the game on the counter. Eventually, La Real sealed the result on a poorly defended set-piece.
  • Just prior to the goal, Aznar brought off Sofia Jakobsson for Lorena Navarro, but the change had little effect.
  • Real Madrid will be unhappy about the missed call and how that might’ve affected the outcome, but they should be equally unhappy with their own play. Aside from the first ~10 minutes and the final stages when Real Sociedad were happy to sit back, Las Blancas were unable to establish control over proceedings and dictate play on their own terms.