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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid Femenino 3 - 2 Real Sociedad

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LAS BLANCAS ARE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!!!

Real Madrid v Real Sociedad - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Real Madrid Femenino came back from behind to defeat Real Socieadad 3-2 in one of the best games of the season. This victory has secured Las Blancas’ mathematical qualification for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.

  • David Aznar stuck with the 4-3-3 false nine/4-4-2 diamond shape that worked so well last time out vs. Athletic Bilbao. Marta Cardona and Sofia Jakobsson played as inside forwards, sitting very narrow to threaten the channels and pin the defensive line, creating space for playmaker Kosovare Asllani to drop off and receive. Madrid’s ball progression was on song throughout the first half. Misa’s and Ivana Andrés’ distribution was quick and accurate and the midfield — specifically Teresa Abelleira — received well on the half-turn before quickly firing passes to find one of the front three.
  • As the half wore on, Jakobsson found a lot of joy running in behind, causing Real Sociedad’s defensive line to collapse on the center. This created ample space for Olga Carmona and Kenti Robles to receive, manifesting another avenue towards goal.
  • Real Sociedad pressed from a 4-3-3/4-4-2 shape, with Leire Baños stepping up onto Babett Peter. Their application was textbook, but they struggled to prevent Madrid from finding the free player in Maite — even with another central midfielder stepping up at times — and were constantly forced onto the backfoot and into a 4-1-4-1 block. The problem was that La Real’s build-up was also on fire. They combatted Madrid’s diamond press and centrally-oriented counterpressing by relentlessly playing the ball into wide areas and seeking to exploit the space behind the fullbacks. Olga Carmona was a targeted heavily and ended up being beat on the opening goal of the game, though the action was clearly offside.
  • Both sides applied plenty of pressure on the opposition box and forced back lines into a bunch of desperate, last-ditch defending. Real Madrid thought they forced a clear handball incident in the 45th minute but the referee didn’t budge.
  • So, of course, Real Sociedad won a penalty after a handball is called immediately after the start of the second half.
  • Real Madrid’s offensive fundamentals continued to look strong but the execution fell off as the second goal deflated the home side’s spirit. David Aznar reacted by subbing off Aurélie Kaci and Sofia Jakobsson for Marta Corredera and Jessica Martínez, shifting the formation to a 4-2-3-1. The big surprise is that Corredera played at left back, freeing Olga up to let loose offensively.
  • Madrid finally got one back after a beautiful piece of press resistance from Teresa prompted an incisive sequence that released Cardona down the right. Asllani arrived in the area and made no mistake.
  • Las Blancas leveled the score in the 81st minute, playing a difficult combination on the edge of the box to slip in right back Kenti Robles, who composed herself and finished like she was one of the most lethal center forwards in the league.
  • Then, this happened:
  • Real Madrid Femenino will play UEFA Women’s Champions League football next season.