Real Madrid pulled off maybe the greatest shithouse win in their nascent history in El Derbi Madrileño, somehow recording a scoreline of 2-0, closing the gap with their city rivals to four points with two games in hand.
Below are my immediate thoughts. A piece outlining key players and a post-match podcast will follow.
- Atlético Madrid announced their intentions very early with a Sheila García shot inside the first minute. The right back proved to be an utter menace throughout the entire half, attacking interior spaces off-the-dribble and posing all sorts of questions to Sofie Svava. It was on Sheila’s flank where Atleti looked most dangerous. Amanda Sampedro interchanged with her wing partner seamlessly and often sucked Svava forward, opening up the channel for Rasheedat Abajide to run into.
- On the left, Barbarra Latorre drifted wide to isolate Lucía Rodríguez and take her on 1v1, which she was quite successful at, although Latorre needed to be more centrally oriented off-ball to take advantage of Ajidbade’s movement. Nominal left-winger Estafanía Banini acted more like an attacking midfielder, creating overloads vs. Madrid’s double pivot and making plays between the lines.
- Atleti’s build-up play was fast, sharp, and irrepressible, with Madrid having no real answers aside from Babett Peter’s spectacular box defending. Ajibade went down in the 18th minute hoping for a penalty but got no call. Meanwhile, coach Oscar Fernández’s defense was similarly intense, asking Atleti to go player-to-player across the pitch in order to encourage Madrid to lean into the frenetic pace of the match.
- Madrid had brief spells on the ball here and there but largely generated no offensive threat until the 29th minute, when a giveaway from the home side set Athenea on her way. The cross was met by the towering Caroline Møller Hansen, who somehow contorted herself to float the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Both Møller and Athenea had been switching flanks all half, but to no discernible effect until that point.
Bien Moller llegando desde el lado débil pero el pase de Svava para encontrar a Athenea libre es muy bueno pic.twitter.com/sghxJzkjKV— FJ (@AnkaraHansen) March 9, 2022
- Atleti’s offense got even better after this. While, previously, they had struggled to generate more than (sizable) non-shot threat, they began to find options in the box and forced Misa and others into action. It was no wonder that Las Colchoneras protested as the referee called time after the first forty-five without adding any minutes, as they probably felt like an equalizer was just on the horizon.
- Toril made no changes at halftime, clearly not bothered enough by Madrid’s inability to put a foot on the ball and control the game for extended periods. Thus, the dynamic from earlier continued unabated, except with a bit more offensive success for Madrid. A bad giveaway led to a scuffed Nahikari backheel in the box and, in the 53rd minute, Las Blancas took advantage in transition; Møller made a smart movement into the channel off the one-two and cut the ball back for Esther, who made it 2-0. Great switch from Zornoza to spark it all, too.
Gol de Esther. Gran cambio de orientación de Zornoza. pic.twitter.com/HjxTFIypYi— FJ (@AnkaraHansen) March 9, 2022
- To go on and sum up the amount of chances Atleti managed to create from then on would be a futile exercise. There has
probablymost definitely never been a game in RM Femenino’s short history where they have conceded so many opportunities while managing to keep a clean sheet. It was genuinely unbelievable to experience in live time. In the 63rd minute, Misa, who had been heroic up until this point, peaked with a penalty save on Amanda Sampedro (the spot kick was awarded for a handball).
- Then, four minutes later, Lucía Rodríguez cleared a tap-in off the line. It’s impossible to put into words how ridiculous these sequences of events were. Atleti’s players were stunned.
- Toril finally made some changes in the 74th minute, bringing off Lucía for Kenti Robles and Møller for Maite. In the 82nd and 83rd minutes, Asllani and Claudia Florentino replaced Nahikari and Rocío, respectively. It didn’t change a whole lot, as Atleti continued to pour forward desperately as Madrid sank even deeper.
- In the 87th minute, Zornoza was sent off, providing Atleti with an even bigger advantage that they couldn’t capitalize on.
- Just to add insult to injury, Atleti had a goal ruled out for offside, before Esther promptly got a clear header immediately afterwards. She could only steer her effort off the goalkeeper’s hands and Asllani failed to convert the rebound from a tight angle.
- You missed an absolute classic of a Madrid derby if you didn’t watch it live. Keep an eye out for replays.