Real Madrid

Real Madrid simply do not know how to give up and they keep coming back. 

The defending Champions defeated the early pacesetters in the Madrid Derby in a must-not-lose game for Los Blancos.

They have crashed Atlético Madrid’s unbeaten record this season in what was their third big win in a very crucial week after three winless La Liga games followed by European defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Par for the course, they were in complete control throughout the opening half and restricted Atleti to a single attempt on target, which owed much to Simeone’s timid tactics.

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It means they have ended The Rojiblancos’ 26-game unbeaten run in La Liga, stretching back the last time they met in February, for their ninth consecutive victory over their neighbours who are now only three points ahead with a game in hand at the top of the table.

The manner of Madrid’s dominance was clear as they breached the Atleti rearguard twice – as many times as they have conceded all season – and Zinedine Zidane’s men will take all the confidence from this particular victory.

Simple does it for Los Blancos

The 1-0 win over Sevilla last week was the perfect preparation for a crucial week. Followed by the all-important 2-nil win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday – their most complete performance of the season – which ensured qualification to the UCL knockouts as group winners, was secured by two right-wing crosses finished by classic centre-forward headers from Karim Benzema.

Casemiro gave Madrid the lead with a near-post header from a corner. Mixing up their usual set-piece routine for Sergio Ramos at the far post. For the second, a freekick was deflected into Dani Carvajal’s path who unleashed a well-taken half-volley which ricocheted off Jan Oblak into the net.

Once again, this Real Madrid side headed by Zidane are masters of capitalizing on the simple details of the game. With organization and dogged determination, they kept the ball out of their net whilst executing the rudimentary art of scoring a goal.

Sign of things to come?

Casemiro celebrates his goal. (Chema Rey)

With Barcelona 12 points adrift off the top with two games in hand, it appears the title race will be decided between the Madrid sides and Real Sociedad. Real Madrid have shown an unwillingness to give up on the title via their dominance of this fixture.

Pertinently, Zinedine Zidane has shown the rest of the league how to defeat Atleti’s new 3-4-3 system with the use of excellent midfield passers to overwhelm the centre of the pitch. 

“We used [Modric and Kroos] to find the way out, it’s true,” said Zidane after the final whistle. “We had to do it”.

“And then playing fast from one side to the other and with diagonals, we found gaps. They’re f***ing great, they’re exceptional”.

This significant Derby win might not just be about keeping pace with Diego Simeone’s men but about weakening their title charge. 

Should Atleti drop further points in the coming weeks, Zidane would better hope his exceptional operators are available to pounce and simplify the wins.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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