Real Madrid Femenino defeated Valencia 3-1 in a wild game that saw proceedings decided in a mere 300 seconds. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- David Aznar decided to keep the 4-4-2 diamond that created certain challenges for Barcelona but switched up some of the personnel; Kosovare Asllani replaced the injured Sofia Jakobsson, Marta Corredera came in for Olga Carmona at left back, and Yohana started in goal thanks to Misa’s red card in the prior game.
- Real Madrid started brightly, with Teresa striking the post and Asllani having a goal (incorrectly) ruled out for offside on the rebound, though there wasn’t a huge amount of goalmouth action throughout the first half. Valencia stayed compact in their 4-4-2 mid-block and were generally good at denying the opposition easy progression. For their part, they were quite concerned at exploiting Real Madrid in transition and went rather direct in build-up situations, managing to catch out Las Blancas’ vertical compactness on a couple of occasions. Valencia also planted an effort on the bar from a speculative volley from inside the edge of the box, though they had less chances in the first period of play.
- Real Madrid did kiss the woodwork a second time — a corner kick, where Ivana Andrés latched onto the loose ball and turned her marker beautifully before poking her shot onto the bar — but it’s hard to say that Madrid created a lot for the first 60 minutes despite threatening the box with some decent crosses. The interaction between the player profiles on the pitch warped the “intended” shape into something that was heavily biased to the right side, with some strange occupation (or lack thereof) of the left.
This is what I was seeing on numerous sequences (with Maite dropping and the midfield rotating a lot more past ~30 mins).— Om (@OmVAsports) February 6, 2021
Insane right-sided bias with the LCM and Corredera alternating to provide width - or none at all - on far side. https://t.co/9OxazAQ2za pic.twitter.com/ZzFMzuPyng
- Cardona looked extremely out of place as a striker once again, sticking to the touchline regardless of the situation, which affected Madrid’s box occupation beyond just the build-up. Teresa and — as the match wore on — Maite and Kaci made runs into the box to rectify this, somewhat.
- Maite looked more uninvolved than usual thanks to her advanced role. Asllani was the one getting on the ball the few times Madrid went vertical, with Oroz remaining unsure of how to receive touches until she dropped deeper given the weird offensive structure.
- The rhythm of the match was the same in the opening minutes of the second half, both in open play (where Valencia were solid but shaky clearing the box) and on set-pieces (where Valencia looked vulnerable). Real Madrid nearly scored from another corner kick — Asllani missed a point blank header — in this stage of the game.
- David Aznar made changes around the half hour mark, bringing on Olga Carmona for Maite and Lorena Navarro for Teresa, shifting the formation to a 4-4-2. It was a positive adjustment that made Cardona far more comfortable and allowed Asllani to do her thing both inside and outside the box with someone else occupying the two center-backs. Around five minutes after the substitutions, madness ensued in an even shorter span of time: Asllani scored from a direct free-kick (the keeper looked to have made a terrible mistake or suffered from a last-second deflection), got in behind to rob a defender (trying to clean up a long ball) to chip the keeper, and put away a cutback prior to Cardona dancing past a defender 1v1. Oh, and Valencia scored right after, when Jansen was played through following a chaotic fifty-fifty duel in midfield. Football is fun.
- To top off the madness, striker Jessica Martínez replaced right back Kenti Robles for whatever reason immediately after Asllani scored her third. Corredera took up Kenti’s position, Olga moved down to left back, and Lorena was deployed ahead of Carmona.
- Aside from an Asllani collision that say Malena come on for the goal scoring hero, there was little decisive action to report bar some half chances at the death. The game effectively ended in that crazy 4-minute salvo that saw the Swede pick up what might be the fastest hat-trick in football history and the quickest triplet in club history.