Real Madrid suffered a second defeat from their last three visits as they were stunned by Atlético Madrid in a 3-1 loss at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano on Sunday night. It was the team’s first defeat of the current campaign in their seventh match in all competitions, allowing Barcelona to remain top of the LaLiga table.
It was former Madridista Álvaro Morata who scored two of the goals in addition to ex-Barcelona man Antoine Griezmann, with a powerful Toni Kroos effort from the edge of the box allowing Real Madrid to pull one back.
These three stats help to explain what went wrong for Real Madrid.
0.05: xG per shot, compared to a 0.13 season average
Real Madrid were not short of attempts on goal here, with 20 total attempts and five of those finding their target, but the issue came in that these were primarily low-quality chances and only generated a total of 1.01 xG. That’s lower than the 1.29 xG created by Atlético with half the number of shots.
Producing low-quality efforts is an issue which has been ongoing and was part of the problem against Union Berlin in the Champions League in midweek, when Real Madrid’s shot quality was more than twice as good at 0.12 xG per shot. This time, it was just 0.05.
12 shots, 0.32 of the total xG, came from shots outside the box. Of those only four were on target, and all four came from Toni Kroos, including his impressive goal. There were a further four blocked and four sent wide. While it may be concerning for Real Madrid, it’s also testament to a strong Atlético defensive display keeping Real Madrid from breaking through.
Of that, 0.48, just under half, of the team’s xG came from set pieces. Aurelién Tchouameni, Joselu and Fede Valverde all had chances from corners, with only Valverde forcing a save from Oblak and even that was a tame one.
Leading the way was a continuing and concerning trend in that Rodrygo Goes had more shots than any other player, tied with Toni Kroos, with the Brazilian recording 0.21 xG from four shots. It is now 29 consecutive shots that he has taken without scoring for Real Madrid since he scored the team’s first goal of the season at San Mamés in August, worth 2.47 xG.
15.8%: Duel success rate among Real Madrid defenders
Winning duels is an essential part of any team’s chance of success, especially when it comes to defending. Unfortunately for Los Blancos, it’s something that Real Madrid simply did not do on Sunday night, with defensive players winning only 15.8% of their total duels.
Among the worst performers were Lucas Vázquez, who won only one of six duels, while Fran García failed to win a single duel. David Alaba and Antonio Rüdiger also won one each, with the Austrian involved in two duels and the German in four.
This was not a problem limited to the starting four. Ferland Mendy and Nacho Fernández were both introduced and both recorded three duels each, and also both lost all three of their duels. Their introduction was supposed to shore up the Real Madrid defence, but it had the complete opposite impact.
It would be easy to point to the absence of Dani Carvajal as a potential motive, but it does not justify such a substantial drop off in performance across the entirety of the backline. The brutal truth is that Atlético simply wanted this more, as shown by Álvaro Morata’s 100% success rate in duels.
The form of Rüdiger is a concern given the lack of options with Éder Militão out long term, while this is not the first game in which García has been shown up defensively against quality opposition. Suddenly, the defensive unit is beginning to look a little thin on the ground in terms of depth.
6: Defeats in 11 away fixtures against Atlético Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti as a coach
With such a poor performance across the park. attention is drawn to the coach, and this was a worrying continuation of Carlo Ancelotti’s recent form when taking on Atlético Madrid at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano.
This was his 11th away fixture against Atlético Madrid in his career, with 10 of them coming against Diego Simeone and three at the Metropolitano since the Colchoneros moved away from the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Of those, he has won just two, last season’s 2-1 victory, and a 2-0 victory in the Copa del Rey semi-finals in 2014.
He has also drawn three matches, 2-2 with Chelsea in the Champions League in 2008/09, 0-0 with Real Madrid in the same competition in 2014/15 and 2-2 in LaLiga in 2013/14.
Beyond that, this was the heaviest defeat since an embarrassing 4-0 thrashing in February 2015 which many fans still rage over to this day. This was only the second time, after that day, that Atlético have scored more than two against a Carlo Ancelotti Real Madrid team.
The Italian may not have got this one right, not helped by the absences of Vinícius Júnior and Dani Carvajal, and it means that he is now level in his head-to-head record against Diego Simeone with eight wins each.