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Recap & Highlights: Real Madrid Femenino 1 - 0 AC Sparta Praha

An own goal gives Las Blancas a perfect record in preseason.

Real Madrid Femenino against Slavia Praha
Real Madrid

Real Madrid Femenino beat Sparta Praha 1-0 to make it four wins in four in preseason before the actual season starts against Sturm Graz in the UWCL qualifiers.

Toril went with a 4-3-3, with Maite Oroz returning to the fold after struggling with some fitness issues. The lineup read (right to left): Misa; Kenti, Sousa, Rocío, Svava; Toletti, Zornoza, Maite; Paula Partido, Nahikari, Møller. Partido, an academy talent, was notably a starter.

Zornoza started off as the deepest midfielder in the game while Maite and Toletti played as advanced number 8’s. Maite tried to operate in a similar role to Weir in previous games, as she pushed to form a front two alongside Nahikari without the ball.

Madrid’s press in the first half was not effective in contrast to previous games, where pressing up top had been a major positive for Las Blancas. The lack of understanding, intensity and coordination between the front four often allowed Sparta Praha to play through the press. The lack of high turnovers resulted in a drop in chances as well. Paula Partido and Caroline Møller were unable to impose themselves on the game via their dribbles.

New signing, Kathellen Sousa, looked slightly unsettled in moments when put under pressure and had some giveaways in the first quarter of the game. Nahikari didn’t have her best of performances, often failing to time her run in behind and looked poor on the ball when dropping deep to connect play. She wasn’t the quickest to close down options quickly during the press either.

Maite moved into a deeper role for the final fifteen minutes of the first half. The Spaniard had a really good individual game, fulfilling two roles and looking comfortable under pressure on and off the ball. She always showed up in spaces to receive.

Sparta Praha blocked central progression by assigning a player on the pivot and one of the 8’s dropping deep, giving up space in wide areas — but Madrid weren’t able to exploit that.

Maite made way for Teresa as the first change of the game. This saw Tere play that deeper role and allowed Zornoza to influence proceedings with her line-breaking passes. Further alterations saw Athenea, Olga, Esther, Weir, and Ivana enter the fold for Møller, Partido, Nahikari, Kathellen, and Toletti. This is where Madrid started to see an uptick in performance.

The change of personnel in the front four resulted in Madrid’s press looking much more intense and effective. They were able to generate turnovers high up the pitch and used that to create shots. The wide combinations looked better and that is where the goal stemmed from. Athenea, Olga, and Esther pressed like machines and Weir was always there to support.

A couple of neat little exchanges between Zornoza, Olga, and Svava on the left flank resulted in a crossing opportunity for the Danish international, which was bundled home by Bertholdová for an own goal.

Another talking point from the game was Misa’s sweeping actions. In each half, she was asked to come way off her line to clear the danger and both sequences were heart-in-mouth moments. On the second one, she miscalculated her timing but fortunately the shot was off target.

Carla Camacho came on as the final sub of the game to replace Sofie Svava. Playing on the left, she was intense and looked to cause chaos in the back line.

Another noteworthy point was Olga’s explosiveness as a ball carrier and support runner on the flank. She can dart her way through the opposition, breaking lines and creating opportunities with her crossing, dribbling, and pace.

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