Real Madrid got back to winning ways against EDF Logroño with a 2-0 win, though the performance was by no means spectacular. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- David Aznar kept the 4-3-3 from last time out but switched Thaisa for Teresa Abelleira and Kosovare Asllani for Jessica Martínez. This has been Madrid’s most-used formation — and for good reason. The early season experiments with a 4-4-2 were poor, as Madrid found it difficult to manufacture a free player from a double pivot. The inverted triangle in midfield created a natural overload at the back and support in both halfspaces. At times, we’ve even seen Madrid go to a diamond to enhance this effect. However, that was the response to a high line of defensive engagement — something Logroño rarely offered throughout the game. Perhaps a flat 4-4-2 was the better option today, given Madrid’s domination of possession in the opposition half and their wing/crossing-oriented approach.
- That could be part of the reason Las Blancas created so little in the opening forty-five minutes, though the players themselves looked off and possibly a little tired after playing Real Sociedad on Sunday (Primera Iberdrola teams generally aren’t used to featuring more than once a week). Whatever the reason, the sloppiness on the ball was excessive and it seriously damaged Madrid’s speed of circulation and ability to put together disruptive combinations.
- Hence, it wasn’t a surprise to see Real create virtually nothing until the 42nd minute, when they burst forward on a counter-attack. Sofia Jakobsson played a square pass to Jessica, who was disrupted by a defender. Unfortunately for Logroño, the challenged served as a perfect lead pass for Cardona, allowing the team’s most decisive player to finish expertly from a tricky angle.
- The second half saw improved performances from Maite Oroz and Teresa, but Madrid still struggled to get much going in regular possession play and saw whatever creative actions they did manage ruled out for offsides. Like before, the best opportunities came on the counter — one of which Kaci fluffed after a great run from Teresa and pass from Sofia Jakobsson.
- The latter was brought off in the 69th minute for Kosovare Asllani, along with Teresa being exchanged for Thaisa. This moved Real Madrid into a 4-4-2 diamond of sorts; Asllani played as the #10 while Cardona joined Jessica Martínez up top. In the 80th minute, Cardona was brought off for long-time absentee Chioma Ubogagu, who took up one of the striker roles.
- The changes had the intended effect. Asllani received between the lines in a rare moment where Logroño were stretched and kissed a beautifully-weighted through ball into the path of Chioma. Madrid’s #18 sized up the situation and calmly redirected the service past the keeper to seal the three points.
- Not a great game but a fantastic ending.