Real Madrid may be accused of manipulating results by their direct rivals in La Liga. The Madrid derby, however, was one of those nights where they deserved all three points but were unfairly denied the same.
Los Blancos were in the driver’s seat for the better part of the game last night. They dominated the chances, possession, and overall play on the field but were hard done by Marcos Llorente’s late equaliser that split the spoils.
The game leaves Real Madrid with only a two-point lead over Girona, setting up for a critical clash later this week between the two leaders. Nevertheless, there are plenty of positives for Ancelotti and Co to take away from the fourth Madrid derby of the season.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid.
Same opponent, same result
Real Madrid just have not been able to get it going against Atletico Madrid this season. Indeed, both sides have lit up the park and produced stellar football when on the field, but Los Blancos‘ inability to build an advantage over Diego Simeone’s side is worrying.
Only one of the four Madrid derbies this season has ended in a decisive result by the 90-minute mark. Late goals have become a norm in the title clash, and last night’s result was no different.
Los Blancos were in the lead even in the 90th minute last night and appeared set to take home three points from their nemesis. However, a late goal from Marcos Llorente caught the Real Madrid defence all over the place and levelled the score in the 93rd minute.
After the Spanish Super Cup semifinal and the Copa del Rey face-off, this is the third clash between the two Spanish giants to end in a draw at full-time this season. Unlike the previous encounters that headed into extra-time, however, this time the two teams split the points as it was a league encounter.
The biggest takeaway from the derby, thus, is that the men in white virtually let go of three points that were all but in the bag. The lead over Girona is now down to just two points, and the next league clash between the Catalans and Real Madrid will thus be critical. There is no more cushion.
If one player ran the show for Real Madrid last night, it was Brahim Diaz. The youngster was one of the unexpected faces in the starting lineup, but for over 70 minutes he showed exactly why his talent is unquestionable.
The 24-year-old scored the team’s only goal of the night, and deservedly so, with a cool finish. He started the move in the 20th minute, attempting to find Jude Bellingham in the box. After Atletico failed to efficiently clear the ball, it fell kindly for him as he took some calm touches past the defenders and slotted the ball into the net.
Apart from his goal, however, Diaz was sensational with his movements and defence-splitting passes on the night. He recorded an xG of 0.89, created three big chances for the team and recorded three shots against Los Rojiblancos.
Further, he completed a stunning four out of seven attempted dribbles, had seven touches in the opposition box and won seven duels for the team.
Ancelotti’s decision to take off the man-of-the-match in just the 71st minute, thus, came across as a puzzling decision.
The player who replaced him, Joselu, did not contribute as much to the team in terms of buildup and it was clear that the team missed Diaz’s magic. He did come close to scoring and put up a nice cameo, but one wonders if Diaz was the right player to take off given the match situation.
The irony in defence
Carlo Ancelotti entered the derby last night with most of his defenders unavailable. Apart from the duo with ACL injuries, Antonio Rudiger was not fit to start and Aurelien Tchouameni was suspended.
He found a smart solution, nevertheless, with his limited resources. The Italian gaffer deployed Dani Carvajal in central defence with Nacho Fernandez. Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy started at right-back and left-back respectively.
As the captain and only fit central defender, the onus of taking charge fell on Nacho’s shoulders. Ironically, however, he was outperformed by Carvajal on the night.
Real Madrid’s makeshift centre-back put in a resilient display, efficiently clearing Atletico Madrid’s chances and making timely interceptions. He blocked one shot and recorded four clearances, a headed clearance, and a recovery and won three duels on the night.
Nacho, meanwhile, was caught out of position on several of Los Rojiblancos’ counterattacks. While he did register solid numbers, he was visibly the team’s weak link in defence. Moreover, one can directly blame him for the late equaliser conceded eventually in the dying minutes.
Real Madrid 1-0 Sevilla: Player Ratings
Following Barcelona’s convincing 4-0 win against Getafe yesterday, the onus was on Real Madrid to reinstate the eight-point gap between the sides as they hosted Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
Lucas Vazquez opened the scoring for los blancos after ten minutes, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul on Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.
Madrid found it difficult to unlock Sevilla’s defence after that, with the first-half ending 0-0 after just one shot on target from both teams combined.
Madrid started the second 45 with more intent, creating some better scoring opportunities, but were left without success until an unbelievable effort from Luka Modric scathed the post and went in.
Sergio Ramos put in a wonderful performance on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Sevilla, but it was not enough as Madrid escaped with all three points and an eight-point lead on top of the table.
Andriy Lunin: 8
Was not called into action in the first-half, and was pretty much faultless in possession. But made an incredible save off Romero’s effort in the second half and was extremely proactive collecting crosses, too. Game-changing.
Lucas Vazquez: 7
Did a good job overlapping and was unlucky that his goal was disallowed. Did well to deal with Romero and Ocampos defensively.
Antonio Rudiger: 6.5
Rudiger was lucky that Romero and En-Nesyri did not convert their efforts from close range, as he often left space in behind. Went up to attack with the score at 0-0, too, but came back fruitless.
Was substituted off after 75 minutes after an mostly average display. Again, lucky that he was not punished for the space he left behind.
Ferland Mendy: 7
A few decent moves for Mendy today, but for the most part, his inability to overlap properly gave Vinicius too much to do.
Federico Valverde: 8
By far the most active midfielder today, Valverde was everywhere. Ran the show for Madrid, both in possession and stopping counter attacks before they even started. Missed the easiest chance of the game, though.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5
Did his job as the 6 well, kept the game ticking and kept finding the spare man in midfield. Moved back to the defence eventually, and came away with a clean sheet.
Toni Kroos: 7
With Madrid struggling to break through Sevilla’s defence, Kroos was tasked with a lot of deep progression. Created some tame chances here and there, but failed to find properly find a man through.
Brahim Diaz: 7.5
Kept Kike Salas and Ocampos on their toes, making some tremendous solo runs from deep, but was often left without support. Created a brilliant chance for Valverde, that was scuffed.
Did not take many risks in possesion, but was crucial in Vinicius and Brahim finding space on the wing by offering support.
Vinicius Jr: 7.5
With the Sevilla defence looking very organised, the onus was on Vinicius to create something out of nothing. He attempted a few different things, including flicking the ball over players and attempting shots from distance, but all unsuccessful.
Has to be credited for the effort, though, especially with the rest of the team lacking.
Luka Modric: 8.5
Super-sub Luka Modric coming in clutch for Madrid today with his wonder goal from outside the box. Was also brilliant in possession, increasing the tempo of the game.