Real Madrid split the points vs. Granadilla in a 1-1 draw away from home. That makes it three winless matches in three to start the league season, which already puts Las Blancas in a very tough position to qualify for the Champions League spots given how thin the margin for error is (last season we lost only six games). A comeback is fully possible, but it has to start right now.
Below are my immediate thoughts on the game. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- David Aznar was forced into a number of rotations due to injury and he went with a 4-4-2 that had center-back Claudia Florentino and Claudia Zornoza in midfield, with Marta Corredera (surprisingly) at right back, Lucía Rodríguez at left back, and Olga Carmona in attack.
- Madrid’s build-up play was not clean. Some of it was probably down to Maite being on the bench and Zornoza having an uncharacteristically bad half, although Granadilla compressed the ball side well and pressed furiously. Madrid also had trouble creating the free player from a double pivot in these types of situations last season. Whatever the case, it was ugly, and Granadilla were clearly the better team over forty-five minutes.
- Real Madrid were consistently given trouble on defensive set-pieces — another issue that has bled over from last season. Granadilla got a second chance to put a ball into the box on at least three occasions in the first period of play and they generated a shot on two of them. Credit must be given to Francis Díaz’s routines and the aerial threat of someone like Martin-Prieto, but Madrid did not defend these sequences well (and that includes Misa).
- It was off of a set-piece that Granadilla scored. The home team were able to switch play from a deep free-kick, allowing María José to cut inside and play a lofted ball into the box for Ange Koko. Lucía was beaten all too easily and Misa could do nothing about the strike that blistered the roof of the net.
- Just as Koko was a threat, Martin-Prieto didn’t let Madrid’s defense rest. Her running into the channels was typically sharp and her size and strength allowed her to outmuscle Rocío and Peter to get to loose balls and manufacture shots.
- Aznar reacted with two changes at halftime: Lorena Navarro came on for Kosovare Asllani, who got injured after a clash, and had Athenea and Olga swap wings.
Durante el descanso del partido, @KosovareAsllani ha sido sustituida por una lesión en la rodilla derecha.— Misa Malena Ortiz (@Misa_CF) September 25, 2021
En su lugar ha entrado @lorcapucca #HalaMadrid | #UDGTenerifeRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/smnGEKttkh
- Lorena had a good cameo and improved Madrid’s ability to play on the ground a tad. She also got onto a sweet Olga diagonal and put a tame shot on goal from a tight angle.
- Maite Oroz came on for Claudia Florentino at the half hour mark and provided a further, slight boost to Madrid’s retention and progression. However, Granadilla’s pressing intensity sustained till the latter part of the half and much of the All Whites’ game consisted of panicked balls in the air and scrappy duels.
- Aznar’s final gambit was to replace Athenea for Caroline Møller Hansen in the 69th minute and Corredera and Lucía for Ivana Andrés and Kenti Robles, respectively, in the 77th minute. This created a 3-4-1-2 look and coincided with Madrid’s first real period of dominance and sustained pressure near Granadilla’s box. The extra defender certainly aided in cleaner build-up and allowed the fullbacks to get very aggressive (in combination with how the three central attackers collapsed Granadilla’s lines inwards), but the opposition were also willing to be more conservative at this stage of the match.
- These combinations of factors finally produced a real chance for Madrid in the 85th minute. Rocío switched play to Olga, who delivered a pearl of a cross to Esther in the box. Esther’s header deflected off of Patricia Gavira to equalize the scoreline in what was counted as an own goal.
- Real Madrid continued to push forward till the end but couldn’t create another opportunity like that. While they did well to fight back for the draw, this was a poor performance overall and the injury list has only gotten bigger.