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Immediate Reaction: Madrid CFF 2 - 1 Real Madrid Femenino; Copa de la Reina Quarter-Finals

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Las Blancas go down to a Priscila Borja miracle goal in extra time.

@realmadridfem

Real Madrid Femenino went into the single-game Quarter-Final knockout match vs. city rivals Madrid CFF as the favorites, but couldn’t get the job done, losing 2-1 after 120 minutes of play. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.

  • Madrid CFF scored almost immediately, playing a quick combination down the right side of the away team’s defense and facilitating a tap-in for Geyse Ferreira. Las Blancas looked blind-sided by the speed of the attack, and their inability to control their local rival’s intensity was a theme all half. This wasn’t a particularly novel occurrence in the context of the season; David Aznar’s side can often be guilty of playing the type of game their opponent wants, declining to calm things down and institute their own style of operating.
  • This issue can be enhanced playing in a double pivot, not necessarily because of poor fit with personnel — indeed, Kosovare Asllani is best utilized as a #10 — but because the team struggles tactically to manufacture a free player in build-up and, thus, can be easily pressed. It didn’t help that Aurélie Kaci was extremely inaccurate with her passing, looking gassed thanks to her huge minutes load this season, and that Madrid CFF blocked the passing lanes into Maite Oroz excellently. Bereft of schematic counters, Madrid leaned on playing wide, trying to rely on the individual initiation of Sofia Jakobsson and Marta Cardona to progress play, and deep (and I mean deep) crosses. The latter strategy caused some trouble, though Asllani’s runs into the left channel were probably Real’s biggest threat in the first forty-five minutes.
  • Real Madrid Femenino’s lack of control created a fairly chaotic atmosphere that allowed Madrid CFF to burst forward in transition often and win set-pieces, which proved to be very dangerous against a side that has been poor defending corners and free-kicks all year.
  • The All Whites were probably lucky to not be down 2-0 by the time both teams jogged into the tunnel, considering that Kaci got away with what looked like a clear handball.
  • Real Madrid came out with a greater sense of urgency and desperation in the second half. The likes of Marta Cardona started to become more audacious. Having already tried a speculative long shot that struck the post before the break, Cardona upped her level of involvement and placed an incredible left-footed cross onto the head of Jessica Martínez. However, the Paraguayan could only direct the header on target.
  • Asllani also looked to force her team back into the game, dropping deep like a central midfielder and helping Real progress past a dialed down press. This freed up Maite, who enjoyed the breathing space and began to attempt shots from distance.
  • Though Madrid CFF still had the odd set-piece attempt, they very much began to be pinned back in the latter stages of the ninety and looked to survive a barrage of crosses by packing numbers into the box. Real were able to keep the pressure going with some frenetic counterpressing, directly leading to Maite winning a penalty in the 76th minute. Asllani stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to level the score at 1-1.
  • Aznar finally made some changes in the 77th minute, bringing on Marta Corredera for Sofia Jakobsson and Thaisa for Kaci. Olga Carmona moved up a position into the left wing spot as a result, with Corredera frequently looking to release her off-the-shoulder. It didn’t prove to be enough to give Real Madrid what they needed to kill the result in regulation. As both teams began to visibly tire, the game trickled into extra time following a number of brutal fouls that disrupted the flow of the match.
  • Teresa Abelleira’s entrance for Olga in the 94th minute coincided with a corner kick that nearly saw Real take the lead. Babett Peter’s header was cleared off the line before Thaisa was denied from extremely close in.
  • The challenges stayed fast and furious from both sides, though Madrid CFF came out the worse for wear when Sara González went down writhing in agony from an unintentional-looking but hard Asllani challenge to end the first period of extra time.
  • With proceedings devolving into rugby match, it was going to take a moment of magic or a miracle to prevent a penalty shootout. Madrid CFF got theirs in the 110th minute; Priscila Borja barged down the right flank and delivered a speculative cross that found its way into the far corner of Yohana’s net.
  • Aznar responded by bringing on striker Lorena Navarro for right back Kenti Robles, but the adjustment couldn’t prevent Madrid CFF from holding onto their lead and progressing to the Semi-Finals of the Copa de la Reina.