Osasuna 0 - 1 Real Madrid (Valverde). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, stats review, post-game quotes, and plenty more analysis.
It was one of the most difficult wins of the season so far. After the first 45 minutes, where Real Madrid put in shaky shift in one of the most notoriously difficult stadiums in Spain, Carlo Ancelotti’s men recorded just three shots — the fewest this season in La Liga from them after one half of football.
The problems were several, but of note, Real Madrid reverted back to some of their more ‘outdated’ tactics. They regressed their defensive line and looked to hit long diagonals over the top to Vinicius Jr and expected him to do something in transition. As a consequence, Rodrygo Goes and Fede Valverde were uninvolved. The former, especially, wasn’t involved enough, getting on the ball a tiny amount — just 10 touches in the first half.
To make matters more difficult, Nacho hardly left his own third. It was a one-man offense.
Playing this way only fuels Osasuna & their crowd\ more, & it takes your own players -- Rodrygo, Fede -- out of the game. Currently Real Madrid are hoping to escape the press (not great so far), and then hit a long diagonal to Vinicius over the top. Need to get others involved— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) February 18, 2023
Osasuna pressed high, and unnerved Ancelotti’s men coming out of the back. Real Madrid struggled getting meaningful possession on the ball, and to make matters worse, things really boiled over just before half-time as Osasuna used a tame foul from Vinicius as an excuse to start fights and try to get in his head. The crowd fed off the energy, and no one really knew why they were mad at Vinicius — just that they had to be because that’s what happens in Spain.
Majority of the fans in the stadium now are chanting “Vinicius hijo de puta”. During the minute silence, this chant was also heard by one fan. Now it’s many.@GuillerRai— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) February 18, 2023
Real Madrid were better in the second half, though. Partly because David Alaba made it more of a point to support the left side in the attacking third, and Rodrygo and Fede both got on the ball more. The pressure and interplays opened up two really good chances for Vinicius which he couldn’t capitalize on, but Real Madrid eventually opened the scoring in the 78th minute after a surging off-ball run into the box from Fede Valverde:
A massive goal for Real Madrid! ⚪— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) February 18, 2023
Vini Jr and Fede Valverde combine brilliantly and Madrid finally have the lead pic.twitter.com/1Nkm62Ksiq
A notable moment in the game came in the 88th minute, when Ancelotti introduced Castilla gem Alvaro Rodriguez. The Uruguayan’s impact was immediate. Through no fault of his own, his assist to Vinicius was disallowed. But moments later, he won the ball high up the pitch to set up Asensio for the dagger:
Marco Asensio puts Real Madrid ahead against Elche.— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) February 15, 2023
Carlo Ancelotti's team are looking to close the gap to Barcelona in first.
We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours, both in written and podcast form.