Real Madrid 4-Athletic Club 1 Athletic Club lost 4-1 against Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeú…
Real Madrid 4-Athletic Club 1
Athletic Club lost 4-1 against Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeú Stadium. The local goals were scored by Marcelo, two by Ronaldo (both goals came from penalty kicks) and Callejón. Llorente scored the first goal of the match. It is not a surprise to have lost against the leader of the La Liga, but it was a case of “déjà vu”…a French expression that refers to a sensation that a person feels that the same situation has happened before and continually repeats itself. It happened this year again in Madrid, and one more time, for the worse.
Our team did not surprise anyone by maintaining their current strategy with spirit and intentions of play starting from the defensive line, even before De Marcos was ejected from the match (he will not play in Vallecas), and after, when it looked like Athletic wouldn’t be able to overcome the adverse result. Athletic could have left the field in the first half with better results. In the second half, they weren’t able to intimidate the rival team for more than one minute, and they paid a high price against a team who scores frequently. To close the circle, the referee’s point of view was one-sided, but nobody should try to blame the referee to minimize Real Madrid’s efforts. Real Madrid made full use of their options by utilizing their weaponry to their advantage and to Athletic’s demise.
Nobody questions that it is positive for the sport of football to let the players play without interrupting the rhythm of the match. It is good for the sport and we here at the website have always given our “two thumbs-up” in this regard, even though the statistics with Mateu are horrible for our team’s interest. But the referee should have called the plays in an impartial manner for both sides of the field and he shouldn’t look at the colour of the shirt only before carding and penalizing a player. The same criteria should be applied game after game…Tuesdays or Sundays and should be done so for all teams.
Athletic Club came to Bernabeú without any fear, knowing that they had to face a potent enemy, but they exuded confidence…faithful to their way of play. Mourinho’s players had a tumultuous week and they were thirsty for blood after the smackdown. In this way, both teams went for a head-to-head attack to the net from the start of the match.
Initially, the Leónes had a slow start, but they managed to control their adversaries well. Granero had the first opportunity of the match, but his kick was too soft. Ronaldo also shot to goal, but the ball flew far from the net. De Marcos also kicked the ball outside in the 11th minute of the match. In the 13th, a ball was stolen away from Madrid from Athletic’s defence line. Solid teamwork was executed, and Javi Martinez passed to Llorente, who kicked the ball with his left foot; hence, the first goal of the night.
Granero tried again but Iraizoz blocked the ball. Kaká wasn’t successful and Athletic kept on course by defending Real Madrid’s attacks. Muniain shot and Casillas tapped the ball away, but unfortunately, De Marcos could not score even though Casillas was out of position. It was a decent chance to score for Athletic Club.
Being overly-confident can result in drastic consequences against Real Madrid, in fact, it mustn’t exist. Granero tried to score again and Benzema kicked the ball outside. In the 25th minute of the match, Benzema passed the ball to Marcelo and he tied the game. Both teams were playing evenly but the referee showed up on the scene with a yellow card against De Marcos, but the referee didn’t do likewise against Ronaldo…and he deserved one even more than De Marcos (Ronaldo had a verbal spat with his teammate, Alonso). In the second half, the Portuguese phenom scored two goals from the penalty point line…once again, a bittersweet ending for the Leónes of San Mamés.
Before the end of the first half, there were more beautiful plays, rapid offensive plays on both sides…it was an entertaining match. Benzema’s head kick was stopped by Iraizoz. De Marcos’ shot went out by a short margin. Iraizoz blocked Benzema’s kick and Kaká attempted one more time but without positive results. In the 38th, there was another rapid transition from Athletic with a nice pass from Herrera to Llorente, but Llorente found himself alone in front of Casillas’ net with no opposition to send the ball Pony Express to goal. Unfortunately for Athletic, Llorente shot it outside with his left. Before the end of the first half, Casillas sprinted out of his net area to stop Susaeta’s chance for goal.
Half of the work was done, but time passes slowly when the result is positive, and quickly when the team has to overcome the adverse result in Santiago Bernabeú. Athletic did not start the second half well, and in the 30th second of the match, Iturraspe held Kaká. Referee Mateu called for a penalty shot this time, unlike Tuesday’s confrontation. Interesting criteria…two teams that begin with uppercase “M”, Madrid and Mirandés, but are not treated equally. Ronaldo kicked a penalty shot from the line and scored the second goal for Real Madrid.
Very few alterations in Athletic’s style of play and it continued as such throughout the match. They were aware of the difficulties they would face in order to overcome an adverse result against Real Madrid, and in the end, Madrid won the game with merit. In the 49th minute, Casillas sent Muniain’s attempt for a corner. Two minutes later, Herrera sent the ball outside. In the 53rd, Ronaldo kicked the ball out, and in the 60th minute of the game, Toquero and Ibai substituted Llorente and Amorebieta. Ibai was placed on the right side, Susaeta went to the opposite side and De Marcos was placed on the left side.
With renewed energy, De Marcos kicked the ball very close to Casillas’ net post with his right foot. Herrera also attempted to volley in the 65th minute of the game, but Real’s fast and furious counterattack ended up as the second penalty of the night for Real Madrid. De Marcos was red carded for pushing Ozil and ejected from the match. Ronaldo proceeded with the penalty kick and it was 3-1.
And everything came to an abrupt end. Athletic put pressure on the Real Madrid offence line for several minutes, and utilized good sense in moving the ball, but Real Madrid is a very well-oiled machine with a lot of intensity in all their lines. Higuain substituted Benzema and Lass took Granero’s place in the middle of the field. Athletic’s third and last change was Iñigo Perez substituting Susaeta. Iraizoz came through with a great save against Higuain’s tough shot, and it looked like the match could have gone our way…if it wasn’t for said referee’s criteria and the curse of “déjà vu”. Lass should have been ejected from the match after causing some riff-raff with Toquero, but nothing happened…the referee didn’t see anything. Sergio Ramos’ action against Ibai in the 75th minute was not even called a penalty by the referee (not even a yellow card!), and Athletic could have had a chance to score a second goal from the penalty shot line.
Up until the end of the match, Real Madrid had several opportunities to increase their advantage. Higuain hit the post and Callejón, who was fresh in the field after substituting for Kaká, scored the final goal for Real Madrid….making it 4-1 . We recommend watching Ramos’ smash to Muniain’s foot near Real Madrid’s defensive line….but by that time, the game was almost over. Real Madrid shouldn’t have won by such a margin…but this is football.
Now, after receiving the first goals of 2012, the team will stay in Madrid until Tuesday, and in turn will travel to Palma de Mallorca, where the local team will take on Athletic. One of the teams will go through to the semi-finals. La Copa Del Rey is a different competition…but the team has high hopes.