Real Madrid comfortably disposed of EDF Logroño 4-0 away from home. Below are my immediate thoughts on the game. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow.
- Comparisons between men’s and women’s teams at the same club can often be over-emphasized for narrative purposes. Nevertheless, if there is one thing that David Aznar and Zinedine Zidane have in common, it’s the potential for them to oversee some unorthodox lineups. On Saturday, Zidane played two fullbacks in what essentially manifested into a 4-2-4 with three positionless attackers. A day later, Aznar used Marta Corredera and Olga Carmona together, but with the former further forward than the latter. And, almost as an homage to the lack of a traditional focal point against Eibar, Sofia Jakobsson was used at the tip of a 4-2-3-1. Kosovare Asllani played just behind her, ahead of a central midfield pairing of Maite Oroz and Aurélie Kaci.
- Aznar has a bit of a funky history with double pivot formations. It dominated most of his tenure last season and was the preeminent shape at the start of 2020/21. However, he scrapped it, eventually moving to a 4-3-3. You could see why he made that shift when Madrid returned to two in the middle of the park against Logroño. The inverted triangle gives Aznar a dedicated overload against two-striker defenses and mitigates positional superiority inadequacies with numerical superiority. In the absence of a 3v2, there was very little movement, positional rotations, or ball circulation to shift the opposition front two and access the double pivot outside of the cover shadows. Consequently, most of Madrid’s possessions consisted of two things: risky ball carrying and vertical passes from the center-backs and balls into the channels from wide areas.
- As it often has this season, that proved to be enough to give Madrid supremacy over decidedly weaker opposition. After not threatening for a large stretch, Jade Boho gifted Madrid a penalty after losing possession near her own box and foolishly fouling Asllani in a desperate attempt to rectify her mistake. The Swede made no mistake from the spot.
- Asllani dedicated her goal to Malena Ortíz Cruz, who has been suffering from a knee injury.
- EDF Logroño attempted to respond:
- But their obsession with going route one on each attack made it difficult for them to capitalize on turnovers and establish their own foothold in the game. Every Madrid possession loss carried little consequence, as the ball returned to the All Whites immediately.
Logroño utilizing the vintage false midfield formation pic.twitter.com/QWmnAQOEeO— Om (@OmVAsports) April 4, 2021
Eventually, Madrid took advantage; Jakobsson got free after a failed interception on an attempted pass over the top and squared to Marta Cardona for the easy finish.
- Fans will question Corredera’s utilization as an attacker and the strength of her involvement in the first half, but Aznar is probably walking away smiling after a natural right back scored thanks to a winger-esque run into the box. Fit and optimization be damned.
- Content with his first experiment, Aznar replaced Corredera with Teresa Abelleira in the 64th minute. Jakobsson came off for Lorena Navarro shortly afterwards, making it a 4-4-2 with central midfielder Teresa playing off the left. While Corredera stuck much closer to the flank, Teresa tucked inside to an extreme degree, sometimes leaving Olga completely alone on the touchline. This helped Madrid’s ball circulation a tad, but her straddling of two positions could occasionally make the passing distances between her and the wing too long.
- Asllani periodically recognized the issue and ended her time on the pitch operating in the left halfspace, looking to link the flow of possession back to the flank and progress play. She came off for Jessica Martínez in the 80th minute, followed by Thaisa replacing Cardona. This morphed Madrid into a 4-4-2 diamond, giving them a more stable way to overload the middle and allowing them to see out the rest of the match without incident.
- Well, almost without incidents: