Real Madrid defeated Levante 3-1 in the Copa de la Reina quarter-finals. Given that this was a one-legged tie, Las Blancas have progressed to the semis. The match itself was utter chaos, prompted by Ángel Villcampa’s wild defensive approach.
Below are my immediate thoughts on what transpired. A piece on key performances and a post-game podcast will follow.
- Real Madrid conceded a penalty right off the bat, with Teresa committing a soft “foul” on Andonova in the box. Alba Redondo duly converted, giving Levante a dream start.
Antes del minuto dos te pitan ESTO pic.twitter.com/8k8STsXskn— Alba Indigo ️ (@delenatoralways) April 24, 2022
- That lead barely lasted, with Esther equalizing in the 9th minute. Maite had roamed inside from the right and faked a shot before pulling the trigger. Levante managed to get a foot to the attempt anyway, but it bounced into the path of Esther, who made no mistake from close range.
- Almost immediately, Madrid scored again. Esther played Asllani in behind and the Swede found Olga at the far post.
- And then Madrid made it three. Levante’s defense collapsed and Asllani got into acres of room to chip the keeper.
- Levante had their chances for the rest of the half, with Misa both making saves and nearly giving one away with a bad pass from the back, but the home side were largely all over the place. Levante’s player-to-player pressing approach from a 4-4-2 was a disaster; defenders stepped up to Asllani’s and Esther’s deep movement without preventing them from receiving — all while having no cover in behind.
- The end-to-end style that Levante induces is always a double-edged sword — it allows them to find easy transition but makes life incredibly hard on their goalkeeper. Today, Madrid benefitted the most. Maite, while still misused on the right wing, took advantage of such a fluid game state, roaming inside and getting on the ball more than we’ve seen in the past (from this position). She also found greater joy on the touchline than normal, being able to run onto a long goal kick in the 49th minute. That more than anything, told the story of Villacampa’s defensive structure.
- The chaotic nature of the game never ceased, but the sheer pace of play progressively declined due to inevitable physical costs. This tipped the balance in Levante’s favor, as Madrid were no longer able to get in behind at such a consistent rate and struggled to control proceedings vs. the press. Thus, Levante applied more box pressure and created some solid chances.
- In the 70th minute, Toril brought on Nahikari García for Asllani and Athenea for Olga. In the 88th, Møller and Claudia Florentino replaced Maite and Esther, placing Claudia in midfield and moving Tere to the right-wing. Athenea had moments in transition but the game experienced another big drop in energy, ending Levante’s attempted surge and leading to a relatively comfortable conclusion for Madrid (“relatively” being the operative word, here).
- Las Blancas will play one of UDG Tenerife, Barcelona, or Sporting Huelva in the semi-finals.