You are currently viewing Match Report: Real Madrid 2-0 Atlético Madrid
Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images
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Real Madrid have ended a decisive week in their season with a huge win, to end Atletico Madrid’s unbeaten start to the league season, beating the leaders 2-0 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

The hosts came into this on the back of ideal preparation, beating Sevilla in La Liga and then finishing their UEFA Champions League group in top spot with a clutch win over Borussia Monchengladbach. In addition to that, against the Germans, it appeared Zinedine Zidane had recovered players like Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema to the level he expects of his trusted old core. And it was the same group that began dominating this one against their city rivals.

Immediately, Real came out of the blocks with the upper-hand. Jan Oblak had to be at his best to deny a venomous left-footed shot from Benzema which was headed in, though the keeper pushed it onto the post. And the second early warning sign for the visitors came in the same move, this time Benzema hit an air-shot at the back post, after Lucas Vazquez’ cross skimmed off Felipe’s head making it zip off the ground as it reached Benzema.

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They didn’t brighten or liven up though, and Real punished them at the quarter of an hour mark. A Kroos corner found Casemiro in all sorts of space, despite being marked by three Atleti players, the Brazilian headed in the opening goal. Other than the goal, Casemiro really came to life as the game progressed, a far improved version of the defensive midfielder, who up until this point, had been really below-par on the pitch in previous games this season.

It was an impressive first half from Real. They were assured in possession, and fearless in chasing down Atletico, and their positional play was spot-on. But for Simeone, his team-talk was fairly simply, he would probably have been screaming at Joao Felix and Luis Suarez for not doing much closing down when Real had possession in their own half. Kroos was dominant, and when the German isn’t being rushed on the ball, it’s a worry for the opponent because he can begin controlling games when he’s comfortable.

There were changes to the league leaders after the break. Simeone replaced Yannick Carrasco, Felipe and Hector Herrera with Renan Lodi, Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa – and that also meant a change of formation and system. And it worked too. More men in midfield meant Atleti could rush Real, and they were quicker to the second balls too. Keiran Trippier was an example of that, he latched onto a loose ball, and found Marcos Llorente to create Atleti’s first major opening with 54 minutes on the clock.

Former Real man Llorente flashed a cross across goal, Varane and Dani Carvajal couldn’t stop it from reaching Lemar, but the Frenchman missed a sitter at the far post when it seemed easier to score.

But the reigning champions held firm, and just after the hour mark, they doubled their lead. Kroos’ corner was cleared by Saul Niguez, but the rebound fell to Carvajal, who took a touch with his chest before letting fly from distance. The right-back’s shot was bending away from Oblak, and struck the inside of the post, before going in-off the keeper’s back which would go down as an own-goal.

The first real test for Thibaut Courtois came with 10 minutes still to play. With Carvajal off, there was more space on the left, and Lodi’s whip picked out Saul, but Courtois made a superb diving save to keep his clean-sheet in tact. Oblak returned the favour at the other end, with yet another awesome save to deny Lucas, who’s shot was destined for the top corner – when it could have been embarrassing for Atleti.

Real hung on to clinch victory, a much needed one too, which certainly reignites their title charge. Zidane has got his players responding to what he wanted, and now, with the rhythm back in the team, the fortunes of Los Blancos could well change from here on in.

Up next for Real Madrid:

Who? Athletic Club
When? Tuesday 15th December @ 22:00 CET
Where? Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano

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