Real Madrid Femenino fell to Atlético Madrid in a disappointing 2-0 loss, capping off a topsy-turvy start to the season that has seen Las Blancas struggle to recover from the midweek demands of Champions League football.
Go here for the match recap/immediate reaction. Continue reading to see the player ratings for the game.
GK: Misa — 5/10: Misa made a decent save off of a corner in the 40th min and couldn’t do much on the two goals conceded, but had a very poor night with her distribution, regularly launching long balls way off target and occasionally missing the easier options out wide. She also didn’t properly deal with a cross into the box in the second half, allowing Atlético Madrid to get a dangerous shot off.
RB: Kenti Robles — 5/10: Kenti came back down to earth a little bit after her superb showings vs. Manchester City. She executed a terrible clearance on Barbara Latorre’s cross to set up Atleti’s first goal and seemed too jaded to recover quickly enough to help in defensive transition. Her offensive influence was visible but limited.
RCB: Ivana Andrés — 7/10: Ivana is a hard one to evaluate today. On the one hand, she had two awful giveaways, one of which directly resulted in the opener. On the other hand, she made numerous spectacular interceptions, tackles, blocks, and actions to cover space in the channels. She also got on the end of a chance from a corner in injury time. You could either raise or lower her rating depending on how much you want to penalize her for the big errors or recognize her for the positives outside the mistakes.
LCB: Babett Peter — 5.5/10: A tough night for Babs. Was wonky on the ball against the press at times and couldn’t contain substitute Thembi Kgatlana. However, she also had her fair share of solid defensive interventions and made a great clearance off the line when Misa punched a cross into a dangerous area.
LB: Olga Carmona — 5/10: Olga was a positive going forward, making good overlapping runs that often weren’t found, showing quality as a progressive passer, and getting involved in the final third. Against the ball, she got shredded by Kgatlana 1v1 on the counter, exposing some of Olga’s weaknesses as a makeshift left back.
RCM: Aurélie Kaci — 5/10: Kaci was solid in her duels and in denying progression, as is classic of her. As is also typical, she looked uncomfortable under pressure and played a truly awful pass straight to Deyna Castellanos to create a high-quality 1v1 for Atleti in the 39th minute. Ivana swooped in and saved Kaci’s blushes.
LCM: Claudia Zornoza — 4.5/10: A night to forget for Zornoza. Her passes in open play and from set-pieces were all over the place, which really cost Madrid, given that she had to carry the progression load in the double pivot and set the tempo for the side. She was also less valuable defensively than Kaci.
RW: Nahikari García — 4/10: Nahikari García isn’t a winger and it showed. Was only noticeable when taking direct free-kicks.
LW: Athenea del Castillo — 7.5/10: Real Madrid’s best player. Was a significant threat 1v1 and worked her ass off defensively.
RS: Esther González — 7.5/10: There’s a huge debate brewing over whether Esther’s intense desire to get touches and be the focal point is harming other players like Nahikari. Such a discussion is outside the scope of this article, though I will say there probably are some incompatibility issues, which I will delve into later on the post-match podcast and maybe in some written format.
Nevertheless, in this specific context, Nahikari being utilized as a right-winger exaggerated the issues between her and Esther, as García provides her main value in this position by drifting into the halfspace to receive (in addition to being a late runner into the box) — a location Esther frequented quite a bit vs. Atleti. On the balance of it all, the ex-Levante forward was still a clear positive, generating a number of final third entries and acting as the only consistent box threat while defending with manic intensity, even if she did have 3-4 moments where she didn’t release the ball quickly enough (or took a bad shot) and several where she roamed into others’ zones.
LS: Caroline Møller Hansen — 3/10: In fact, Møller was probably the individual who was hurt more by Esther’s high-usage act. CMH is renowned for her hold-up play (instead of occupying defenders) when operating as a striker and she had little chance to show it as Esther was dominating those duties. One has to wonder why David Aznar didn’t swap Møller with Nahikari and play the former out wide. That may not resolve every issue, but surely Hansen would be far better used as a winger (where she is also very comfortable and probably best-used) over Nahikari in this context.
LS: Kosovare Asllani — 7/10 (replaced Møller; ‘46): Asllani came on for Møller at the half and was immediately more impactful. She had a couple good moments carrying the ball down the left and showed some quality as a ball-winner. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Asllani gelled better with Esther. Although it is true that the Swede loves to be the primary playmaker operating between the lines, she is far more tactical with her movement and will adjust around others to maintain an optimal structure. This explains why some of her notable actions came on the touchline and how she was able to find moments to receive in deeper areas.
RW: Lorena Navarro — 6.5/10 (replaced Nahikari; ‘76): Lorena is another one of those portable players who adapts to her surroundings intelligently (this is probably her main strength). She had some good receptions but ultimately had too little time to stamp her mark on the game.
LB: Marta Corredera — N/A (replaced Olga; ‘84): Was subbed on in the 84th. Didn’t have a large enough sample size to evaluate her performance. The more significant thing to note is that Olga apparently requested to come off for a knock, which is presumably why she has been dropped from the Spanish National Team squad, enabling Corredera to get the call up.