No one at Real Madird thinks there’s a chance of winning the league title, but it doesn’t mean the season is over. Making certain second place is tied up is all that’s left, not to mention city and team pride being at stake. Not a great match, but another fine tactical display from Jose Mourinho with a tattered bunch while Angel Di Maria provided the creative spark to finish the job.
Derby matches have been quite a celebration for Real Madrid for quite some time, not even losing one for nine straight after Di Maria’s dagger beat the “best goalkeeper in the La Liga”, Thibaut Courtois. Not too many opportunities in match that started out like a WWE brawl, with players like Diego Costa, Raul Albiol, Pepe and others doing their best to make us forget this is a football match.
And yet, in the few moments where it was about the right kind of sport, Real Madrid found themselves still superior to their little sister who can’t seem to bring their best in the one match (that happens twice a year) that means more to them than anything else, still seeking a win in it for the first time since 1999. There’s still a Cup Final to play between the two, but Atletico can’t be too confident going into it.
Because the grand hope of playing a Real Madrid side without Cristiano Ronaldo turned out to be a false spring. Ronaldo was hurt and rested for the second leg against Dortmund, despite the small chances of overturning the result from the first leg, leaving a slow, predictable Real Madrid team. Kaka isn’t going to be what he used to, not when playing at a club like Real Madrid, and despite not making too many mistakes, he didn’t really influence the match.
Albiol started, and so did Nacho and Morata in a lineup that looked nothing like anything planned. Just a bunch of players who knew what they were doing, coming to poach a goal here and there while playing some very good defense for most of the match. After getting the second goal through Di Maria, Mourinho turned to some possession through Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric, not allowing Atletico to create some late surge in an attempt to find the equalizer.
Maybe some experiments for the upcoming Champions League match were made as well, with Raphael Varane tried out on the right, while Karim Benzema played as striker from the start. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Benzema or Higuain, because without Ronaldo influencing the match (scoring one goal isn’t influencing it) for more than a few minutes there is no chance that they, Mesut Ozil or Di Maria have enough firepower between them to overturn the result.
It is funny who talented sides still rely so heavily on one player. It speaks volumes for the talent of Cristiano Ronaldo and his Barcelona counterpart. Unlike Barcelona, Real Madrid, with a mission like keeping their derby domination and keeping the championship race theoretically alive, got the job done.