Real Madrid 1 - 1 Girona (Vinicius; Stuani). Here’s our quick reaction upon the final whistle. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, stats break down, post-game podcast, and a ton more:
It took some time for Real Madrid to get going. Perhaps it was, somewhat, to do with an early kick-off in Spain — or maybe that Girona stayed compact and remained dangerous through the counter against Real Madrid’s high line and transition defense.
Whatever the case, this match was less than straightforward against a team in the relegation zone that has talent, has suffered narrow losses, and is capable of punching above their weight.
In the first half, Real Madrid got into good positions in the box through clever movement in the right half-space where Rodrygo, Fede Valverde, Luka Modric, and even Eduardo Camavinga got into. Rodrygo hit the post from that position, while Modric had a shot go just wide.
But even those two chances were in tight-quarters, and Girona’s low, narrow and compact block prevent Real Madrid from many clear-cut chances.
On the counter-attack, Girona nearly scored twice, and in both instances, Dani Carvajal had fallen on the play while David Alaba was higher up the pitch. Antonio Rudiger, who was not helped by the midfield, single-handedly had to try to fend off both chances, and Real Madrid escaped.
In the second half, Ancelotti’s men came out of the gates with renewed energy, and Vinicius Jr, who was quiet in the first half, started to cut inside with the ball more often which unlocked more opportunities. In the 70th minute, he found himself open at the far-post to meet a really great Fede Valverde pass, which opened the scoring:
What a goal from Real Madrid with the finish from Vinicius! pic.twitter.com/P9CMNxhA2Z— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 30, 2022
From there, it was far from smooth sailing. Marco Asensio nearly made it 2 - 0 but was denied by an incredible save from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, and shortly after, he was called for a handball in his own box which led to a Christian Stuani penalty and equalizer.
Real Madrid fought hard to take the lead again, but were met with a barrage of Girona players defending deep, and were denied a controversially disallowed Rodrygo goal late.
We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours in both written and podcast form.