Real Madrid Femenino defeated Rayo Vallecano 3-0 away from home in a much-needed return to winning. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- David Aznar stuck with the 4-2-3-1 despite some recent shaky results, but swapped Marta Corredera’s and Olga Carmona’s positions. With Olga finally playing in her more natural attacking role, Real Madrid’s attack had some oomph. Las Blancas’ #7 was able to use her burst to get past her mark and put in dangerous crosses that tested Rayo Vallecano’s last line. Three of the most dangerous deliveries of the half all flew off of her boot, with the last leading to a rebound that Aurélie Kaci put away to make it 1-0.
- Madrid struggled a little for clear-cut offense aside from that. While Rayo never pressed, their front two were active in blocking off the passing lanes into the double pivot of Teresa Abelleira and Kaci. Teresa did not actively start moving out of the cover shadows to form a back three until late in the first forty-five minutes, but the overload was never used to create central paths for progression regardless. Instead, Aznar’s women were content to play the ball down the touchline and create from there. Given Cardona’s drop in form of late, Madrid were essentially limited to the left wing for shot creation.
- The patterns of play to start the second half were much of the same. There was a minor increase in the usage of Teresa as the free player to circulate from side-to-side, but the attack remained flank-focused and heavily oriented on the left despite Cardona and Olga swapping wings. Cardona struggled to make her mark — as has been the case for her since the international break — and Olga’s influence declined, leading to a double substitution in the 63rd minute.
- Teresa and Olga came off for Maite and Jessica, pushing Sofia out to the right and giving Madrid a true focal point up top. Though the team’s best player of the first half was subbed off, Las Blancas found the back of the net in the 69th minute. Jessica did what she does best and met a cross in the box, looping a header off of the fingertips of the goalkeeper.
- Rayo got their most threatening opportunity from a corner in the 79th minute, one they would regret not taking advantage of when Marta Corredera soon made it 3-0, scoring from her 15,376th long-range attempt of the season.
- Chioma Ubogagu and Thaisa came on for Cardona and Kaci, respectively, to see out the rest of proceedings. Chioma got off a few shots and looked good in her limited time.