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Immediate Reaction: Real Betis 1-3 Real Madrid; Liga F

Møller and Olga swing the game from the bench in a rusty return from international break.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Liga F Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Real Madrid won 3-1 against Real Betis in what was the epitome of return from international break as Madrid looked rusty on the pitch. It was a frustrating game which had some sparks following the substitutions in the second half.

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

  • Real Madrid returned to domestic football action after the international break with a game against 12th placed Real Betis, who were just two points ahead of 15th placed Alhama in the league table. Alberto Toril lined up in a typical 4-2-3-1 fashion (despite google suggesting otherwise) with Esther leading the line and Caroline Weir playing in the hole behind her. Sandie Toletti and Tere formed the double pivot. In defence it was the return of Kathellen Sousa following an injury and Ivana partnered her at center-back.
  • What was supposed to be a straightforward game for Madrid was marred with rustiness following the international break. It resulted in a really dull first half of the game where Madrid just managed five shots and the best chance fell to Esther from a cross by Feller from the right hand side but the Spaniard’s shot skied over the post.
  • Rinsola Babajide caused a lot of problems to Madrid’s defence with her ball carrying and speed, she was constantly testing Kenti and won a couple of fouls and corners down Madrid’s right hand side. Despite the threat, Betis didn’t come close to scoring themselves. Las Blancas struggled a bit with players not being on the same wavelength, which resulted in some sub-optimal decision making that killed a couple of attacks. The first half ended goalless.
  • With the game becoming stale with each passing minute, both managers decided to make a triple change. Toril brought on Maite, Linda and Moller to replace Esther, Tere and Athenea.
  • In the 60th minute, the entire defensive line got caught with a simple through-ball in behind by Lucia Leon for the run of Babajide, who then rounded Misa and put the ball in the back of the net. The lethargic nature of the game was clear in the defensive performance on that goal.
  • However, Caroline Weir equalized quickly on the other end, capitalizing on an error at the back as Nuria Legero failed to clear the ball in the box and Weir was quick to react and slot it home after five minutes of going behind. Weir had shown slight frustration earlier in the game and tried to make things happen with shots from range but failed to do so.
  • The substitute did have the intended impact as Linda Caicedo was heavily involved in the proceedings and Madrid dominated possession a lot in the second half. Despite the mounting pressure, the breakthrough didn’t arrive until the final 15 minutes of the game. Betis were reduced to 10 players after Violeta Garcia was shown a second yellow for a foul outside the box.
  • Madrid piled up the pressure with another attacking substitute beyond this point, bringing on Olga to replace Kenti. For a brief period of time, Madrid lined up at the back with Ivana at RB and Svava playing as the left center-back.
  • Linda Caicedo’s finally got her reward in the 83rd minute as her floated cross from the right hand side was met by a towering header in the box by Caroline Moller Hansen. Caicedo had been heavily involved since coming on and initiated a lot of combos and helped out in progression as well.
  • Betis did come forward and hit the crossbar from a corner situation in the 87th minute but any hopes of equalizing in the game were quickly curbed away when Olga Carmona was fouled inside the box in the 89th minute and won a penalty for the Las Blancas. She stepped up and dispatched it with ease, giving Madrid a two goal cushion.
  • Toril quickly switched to game management mode beyond this as Claudia Florentino came on to replace Feller for the final few minutes and slotted in at RB, allowing Olga Carmona to push high up. Florentino had a bright moment when her cross from the right was met with a great header at the far post by Olga which was saved for a corner towards the final few minutes.
  • While the overall performance was a bit rusty, expected after an international break, the substitutes came to Madrid’s rescue and highlighted the strength available on the bench to be decisive in moments of need.

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