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Immediate Reaction: Rosenborg 0 - 3 Real Madrid; UWCL Qualifying, Round 2, 1st Leg

Weir and Athenea put on a galactic show.


Real Madrid secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Rosenborg in the 1st leg of Round 2 of the UWCL Qualifiers.

Below are my immediate thoughts and analysis alongside some highlights. Player ratings and a post-match podcast will follow.

  • With Naomie Feller and Olga Carmona still out of the squad and Caroline Møller Hansen’s unconvincing showing on the weekend, the big question was who Alberto Toril would start on the wing opposite Athenea del Castillo. The answer turned out to be Caroline Weir, who had briefly featured on the right flank after subs altered the shape vs. Valencia.
  • Madridistas were not initially pleased to see this, probably because of the scars from Maite Oroz being neutered in that role last season. However, Weir interpreted her positional restraints much more loosely. While Maite (perhaps surprisingly) positioned herself like an actual winger in 21/22, Weir roamed inside and acted as another attacking midfielder. This created a 2-2 look in midfield, morphing the supposed 4-2-3-1 into an asymmetric shape (Freja Siri and Toletti formed the double pivot behind Zornoza and Weir).
  • Las Blancas experienced easy control throughout the first half. The width of Athenea and Kenti stretched Rosenborg’s 4-4-2 block while Weir and Zornoza found gaps in the center. In the 13th minute, the Scotland international exploited one of those holes to blast her side into the lead.
  • Madrid started looking even better after the goal. The fluidity of Weir’s movement began to engender more fluidity from Zornoza, making it extremely difficult for Rosenborg to keep track of the various White threats. In the 34th minute, Athenea del Castillo got onto the scoresheet, driving inside in typical fashion before billowing the net with a strike at the near post.
  • Real went into the tunnel 2-0 up, having suffered a few scares near the end, thanks to some questionable box decisions and Rosenborg’s feisty attitude in the final third.
  • The second half kept up the same themes. Within 6 minutes, Athenea and Weir imposed themselves on proceedings again, combining to fashion the third goal. This sequence was less flashy than the first two, but highlighted Weir’s feel and skill for executing runs into the box.
  • Toril made his first change in the 62nd minute, bringing on Maite Oroz for Freja Siri. The latter had a solid debut, recycling the ball and making what few defensive interventions she had to. Maite played as a left-sided attacking midfielder while Zornoza moved deeper into the double pivot.
  • Sandie Toletti performed excellently, conducting the majority of possession from deep and firing a number of line-breaking passes. Her versatility and all-roundedness enables Madrid to seamlessly flit between a number of midfield shapes. She came off in the 75th minute for Teresa Abelleira.
  • Toletti’s departure was accompanied by Esther’s, who was replaced by Nahikari. Esther was lively in the box and had her chances, but couldn’t put any away.
  • Rosenborg created the majority of their danger off of turnovers. Their high press was respectable and increased in intensity as they became more desperate in the second half, leading to notable turnovers from Madrid. That was a problem vs. Valencia and will need to be cleaned up as the season progresses.
  • Toril saw out the final minutes by subbing Weir for Møller and Athenea for youngster Carla Camacho.
  • Real Madrid’s victory sees them take a 3-0 advantage into the second leg, which they will defend at home in the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano. If Las Blancas do the business there, the Champions League group stage will become a reality.

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