Para Siempre Blanco

Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Carvalho carried the team on this shoulders for most of the game. Here he is seen carrying Di Maria.

Real Madrid remain at the top of the Primera Division table after securing yet another regulation derby victory over Los Rojiblancos. Ricardo Carvalho scored his second goal in White and Mesut Ozil added to the scoreline from a clever free-kick with both goals coming within the first 20 minutes of the game. But as many suggest the game was marred by the lack of competition offered by the men in red and white stripes which is just another way of saying Real were at their dominating best and gave Atleti no chance of getting back into the game.

We are Atletico Madrid, and we go to the Bernabeu to win. This year we have self-esteem in place, and our goal is to enter the Champions League. For this we need things to work and to go our way.

So said Quique Sanchez Flores prior to the game. As ambitious as it might sound to you it is clear that Atleti are clearly not bothered about the league title. All that they are playing for is a top 4 finish which they probably will get even if they drop all points against the top sides in Spain. But then again the gulf in quality between the two sides seemed so large that even if Atleti had wanted to stay in the game they couldn’t have. Having said that this was probably one of the toughest games we have had to play season considering the fact that Atletico breached our defense on several occasions and St.Iker had to make more saves than he had had to make in any other game of this season.

Real kicked off the game in usual fashion with Di Maria on the right and Ronaldo on the left and looking dangerous right from the first minute of the game. Forlan as expected returned to the line up and several eyes were on De Gea as many expect him to succeed Iker as the Spanish National Team’s custodian. And he would be tested as early as in the third when Xabi Alonso swung in a corner from the left for Pepe to hand our neighbors the first warning with a header which somewhat went straight at De Gea. The 80, 000 fans were at their hostile best  and so was Real as in a few minutes later Ronaldo showed quick feet to find Di Maria in the box whose darting shot could only be scuppered by De Gea with the rebound falling straight to an offside Sami Khedira.

The first goal then came. In the thirteenth minute, former Madridista Jose Antonio Reyes was dispossessed by Xabi Alonso in midfield and the ball fell straight to Ricardo Carvalho who kick started yet another Real Madrid attack by passing to Higuain and continued his darting run into the box. The Argentine while trying to get past a couple of Atleti players lost the ball only to fellow Argentine Di Maria whose slightly deflected pass to Carvalho was met by the Portuguese center half. Carvalho made no mistake and expertly finished the move to net his second goal for Real Madrid and clearly hammered the all important first nail in Atletico’s coffin. And within a couple of minutes Real should have doubled the lead through Pipita when Ronaldo sent him through. But he could only find De Gea’s long legs with his shot. Carvalho was on hand post-game to comment on the game, saying:

My goal was important. I got lucky. We are playing well and it was important to win this match. We cannot let points leave the Bernabeu.

And we didn’t. The final nail in the coffin would come a few minutes later, six to be precise. Sergio Ramos lofted a ball over Atleti’s defense for Cristiano who was marked by Dominguez. The defender fouled CR just outside the edge of their box on the right for the referee to award a free kick in favor of the Whites. Even though at first glance it just didn’t seem like a foul I have to say that Ronaldo is quick and even the slightest obstacle can bring him down pretty easily. And to everyone’s surprise the Portuguese did not line up for the free-kick. It was between Xabi and Ozil and it would be the German who would take it. Ozil’s low and curling drive defeated the Atletico custodian comprehensively going in at the far post. There were three important things to be noted with respect to this goal. Firstly, it was Reyes’ mistake again as he was Atleti’s first line of defense behind the wall and he failed to clear the low shot. To put it in a nutshell Reyes was clearly outsmarted by Ozil. Secondly, Florentino Perez’s reaction to the goal. It was clearly a “Suck on that, Gil!” kind of reaction something that you rarely see our President do. Our First Lady too seemed delighted with Ozil’s masterclass. And finally, the man himself, Mesut Ozil kissing Real Madrid’s crest. And that is what concerns me. I am a very, what you could call, conservative fan. I really do believe that kissing the crest is something that you should do only when you are Hierro-esque or Maldini-istic or Raul-ish kind of a player. Seeing Ozil do that did bring tears in my eyes as I see him as the future of this club. But if he does leave the club he would then become a cunt which I hope doesn’t happen. I hope you get my point here.

Anyhoo, moving on with the game (which was virtually over by then), Reyes the root cause for both the goals shifted the blame on to the team as a whole in what I feel was a clever move. Real’s hero of the 31st League title said during the post match presser that:

Their goals arrived from our mistakes. The first goal was a blow, but the second knocked us for six. It was hard for us to recover, but little by little we got back into the match and we had chances to get a goal.

Yeah, yeah. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

Even though we did not have that many problems defensively there was one thing which I noticed. Almost all of their chances were created from the wings, more from their right than the left. I know that Marcelo is far better than what he was last season, defensively that is. But then again is that enough? If he is going to struggle to keep Reyes and Simao quiet I doubt what would be the case when he faces the likes of Messi, Muller and so on. Patrice Evra apparently is interested in the job, but then again he is a cunt and we need no cunts. Little Marcel is learning a lot though, which he admits:

I am learning a lot playing next to Pepe and Carvalho. Playing with such experienced players boosts my confidence.

As the match neared the half an hour mark Atletico were piling the pressure on Real with several half chances. And then they almost had a penalty. Simao’s corner from the left eventually fell to Aguero on the half volley. Maradona’s son-in-law’s shot struck Xabi Alonso on the hand in what was a completely involuntary incident. Xabi clearly had no intention of blocking the shot with his hand and it did seem like a clear accident. And thankfully the referee either didn’t see it or didn’t give two hooping hoots about it. But since that was their only real chance of getting back into the game all that Reyes could do was blame it all on that single incident.

Then came the penalty against Xabi Alonso due to a clear handball. It could have been a penalty and a red card. The match would’ve been very different.

Different, my ass.

Reyes’ effort from the edge of our box was saved well by Casillas while we ourselves should have had a penalty for Simao’s 50:50 challenge on Di Maria inside their box. And that’s just about it. The chances just stopped coming towards the last fifteen minutes of the first half for both sides.

The second half started and Real immediately signaled their intent to score as many as they possibly can. Ozil cross from the left fell perfectly for Higuain to volley it against the post from just inside the box. The ball fell harmlessly for a goal kick. That was probably the only good chance that Higuain had throughout the game. It’d be harsh to say that Pipita had a poor game as the supply just was not there. Ozil was excellent throughout the game  mesmerizing their defense from time to time. But he too couldn’t provide much to our offense. Di Maria had an average game considering the standards that he has set himself. But Ronaldo, I felt, was pathetic. He wasted possession by taking lame ass shots almost every time he had the ball in attack and all his crosses fell to no one. But the manager was happy with his performance or at least that is what he told the world.

Ronaldo is a team player. I can’t expect him to score all the time and steal the ball in the midfield and score. He is a difference maker. If he works as hard as he does, I cannot demand anything more from him. I am more than satisfied with his work. He is a great player and I am thrilled to habe him.

Well, even though it is sort of a round about way of saying “he works hard but just isn’t able to do anything” I should say that I unequivocally agree with JM. Ronaldo is indeed a difference maker. You can somehow feel it when he isn’t there in the game. His mere presence somehow seems to boost the rest of the players. The same applies to Kaka as well. I guess that’s what makes them superstars.

Before I start jizzing over them let me finish off what I started. On the hour mark, Atletico came closest to scoring a goal. Yet another corner from the left was cleared by our defense but only as far as Forlan who was outside the box. His Mendieta/Scholes like volley was low and hard and struck the post. A few inches to the right and it probably would have beaten St.Iker. A few minutes later Marcelo released Mesut Ozil with a superb pass from our own half. The German, tracked by former Madridista Filipe Luis, had his shot blocked resulting in a corner. A half-chance as it may be, it should have been finished off.

Atleti made the first change of the game bringing in Raul Garcia on for Tiago Mendes. And a few minutes later Real made theirs as Karim Benzema came on for Gonzalo Higuain. The game was starting to get a little boring so to speak and I started dozing off. Flores brought on Diego Costa for Sabrosa Simao to liven things up but hell it only got worse. Carvalho, who by far was probably our best player on the pitch, had to be taken off as he sustained a jagged left lower eyelid bruise with mild concussion. He was replaced by Albiol and things were no different. Momo Diarra too came on and for Di Maria indicating that the match would only get slower and might even come to a standstill.

Mourinho, speaking post-game, said that he wanted to make things slower and for us to get a hold of the game. He justified his move by admitting that Atletico were by far the team that gave us maximum trouble at home. Hell, this guy is always right and no wonder the game put me to sleep.

We were up against an opponent who obligated us to hold onto the ball and think defensively. We slowed the pace in the second half in order to control the game, not because of fatigue. We ended up with Diarra, Alonso and Khedira on the pitch; players who slow the pace and control the open spaces.

The team that has given us the most trouble at the Bernabeu was Atletico. We have played against some good teams like Milan, but when you’re up against Reyes, Simao, Kun and Forlan, you are up against four of the best players in the league. These four players create two-on-two plays and have great dynamic with one another. Good players and a good coach. These were three crucial points.  You cannot beat Atletico by six or seven.

We could have scored five though, through Marcelo, Khedira, Benzema and Ronaldo respectively. But all the shots were saved by De Gea. Sergio Ramos had the best chance to extend our lead. Xabi’s cross came on perfectly for Ramos, who was completely unmarked in Atleti’s box, but he couldn’t hit the target with his header from close range.

And that was that. Real Madrid have not lost to Atletico Madrid in 18 games now over a 11 year time period. My man of the match choice was easy and pretty much universal. Ricardo Carvalho had a fantastic evening and surely he is on of our best signings of recent times. Valdano summed up pretty much whatever I want to say:

Carvalho deserves a lot of credit for his goal. His confidence is soaring. He even moved into attack in search of the goal. His defensive duties today were unbeatable and he left with a warm round of applause.

Match Stats:

Lineups:

Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Ricardo Carvalho (Albiol 83′), Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Di María (Mahamadou Diarra 83′), Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín (Benzema 74′);

Atletico Madrid: De Gea, Valera, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Filipe Luis, M. Suárez, Reyes, Tiago (Raúl García 69′), Simao (Diego Costa 76′), Forlán, Agüero;

Goals:

1-0, 13’: Carvalho;

2-0, 19’: Ozil

Notes: Week 10 of La Liga

Played at: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Attendance: 80,000

Referee: Mr. Mateu Lahoz

Booked: Tiago (66), Mario Suárez (61), Sami Khedira (72), Ricardo Carvalho (76)

Man of the match: Ricardo Carvalho

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