Real Madrid 1-1 Real Sociedad (Vinícius Júnior). Madrid held at home. Here is the reaction to the draw. On the way: Player ratings, quotes, and a free podcast.
Zinedine Zidane has been in quite the experimental mood in recent times, and today’s team provided something even fresher. The width was to be provided from Mendy and Vázquez acting as attacking full-backs, whilst Casemiro acted as an advanced centre-back in a back three. The rest of the team operated far more centrally, but with freedom to move into space as it became available. Less Castilla players were on the bench with the return of Rodrygo and Valverde, but four still found a space in the squad. A win would keep Real Madrid within three points from the top of the table, although leaders Atlético would still have a game in hand.
The first half was swamped with action, and Real Madrid really showed up to provide a show. After a string of uninspired, hard fought victories, it has become easy to forget the dazzling level that these players can reach. The flow of football and the chances created in the process served as a quick reminder. Every attacking player looked quick with their decisions and dribbles, with Kroos, Modrić and Isco looking particularly smooth in midfield. Many of these players had the chances to find the lead, as Kroos carried the ball into the box before having a shot deflected just wide of goal. Deflections would be Madrid’s downfall in the first half, as a Mariano header from close range was unconsciously redirected onto the crossbar off of the back of a defenders head. Asensio was then denied from the rebound with a much better defensive block on the floor. The bar received more attention from the resulting corner, as Varane’s header came close. At the other end, Casemiro could consider himself lucky not to haven given away a penalty as his swipe at Monreal in the box sent the Spaniard down. Mariano and Casemiro tried their luck from outside of the box after some good play, but both shots flew wide. Somehow the score remained at 0-0 by half time...
That was the most enjoyable/exciting 45 minutes of football I’ve seen Real Madrid play in a long time.— Emily Wilson (@wilson_emt) March 1, 2021
Sociedad went on the attack early on after the break as Madrid slowed down, which paid off around ten minutes in when Portu beautifully headed a perfect cross in off of the crossbar against the odds. Los Blancos now had a real challenge on their hands, just as a title race revival was on the cards... Sociedad came close again moments later, before Kroos attempted to bite back from distance. Hugo Duro, Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo were brought on to change up the formation, and play became more balanced - with Casemiro almost finding the equaliser with a header brushing the post. Valverde was then brought in to try a change things. Despite the substitutions, Madrid couldn’t rekindle the intensity that appeared so natural to them in the first half, and just like that it once again became easy to forget just how good they can be. In typical uninspired fashion, Madrid did manage to cling onto a result, with Vinícius Júnior getting on the end of a low cross and beating the keeper! Tables the turned late on, but Madrid were unable to find the winner with such little time remaining.
If your title hopes had started to come back after a bleak run early on in the season, then perhaps after this result they may have been buried for good. This draw gives Atlético the chance to go eight points clear if they can win their game in hand, taking the points difference back to a sizeable gap. They also have the opportunity to extend the gap even further, as the next game for both clubs will be against each other in the Madrid derby. It was a positive thing that Real Madrid managed to grab the equaliser when things weren’t going their way, but their inability to truly take advantage of the first half domination is something that has cursed them for a while now. What did you think about the game?