Match Recap: Real Madrid Vs. Levante

21 Oct

Photo 1Now that the international break is over, I am thankful that we came away with minimal injuries. AND we have Sami and Jese that much closer to coming back! The only thing we needed was this win at Levante to get our momentum going as we have a tough schedule this next week.

I was a bit worried we’d have to face Jesus Fernandez in goal for Levante. I hate playing against our own. Especially when it’s a keeper. But luckily for us, we didn’t have to be put through that.

Lineups:

Levante: Diego Mariño; Pedro Lopez, Hector Rodas, Ivan Lopez, Juanfran; Ruben Garcia, Papakouli Diop, Victor Camarasa; Jose Luis Morales, Jaime Gavilan; Victor Casadesus

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco; Cristiano Ronaldo, Javier Hernandez, James Rodriguez

We did, however, get to see Jesus greet his former teammates in the tunnel prior to the match.

I personally found it interesting to have Nacho in the middle, and I’d forgotten that Varane was having a bit of an issue with his knee again. So with The Pony injured we got to see what Nacho could do. And, to everyone’s delight (well at least ours here at HB&HB), Sami found his way onto the bench! I know it’s just the bench, but it’s a start!

Levante were 17th going into this match, and the stadium showed it. There were a large number of Real Madrid fans in the stands, but the stadium was relatively empty.

Our first chance came in the third minute. Cris brought down a pass from Kroos but shot it just wide of the post. He had another chance only two minutes later but shot wide of the post again.

And didn’t Isco look feisty?! It was nice to see the Isco that we know can make a huge difference in matches. I felt a bit like he’d been just a background player lately with such focus on Kroos and James.

In the 12th minute, Juanfran took Chicharito down in the box, earning a yellow card for his trouble, and we were awarded a penalty. Of course Crispy put it away.

After that, Levante decided to start trying to press. It was the first real press forward that they had. But we were dominating. I’m not saying our defense was good, but it was a tiny bit better. I feel like we had a detour at the beginning of the season and we’ve started to work out those issues. We might actually be back on track. I’ll save that judgment for the end of this week though…

The next booking came in the 25th minute after Camarasa brought Marcelo down. Sir Tans-A-Lot took the free kick, of course, but it hit the wall.

Levante got a break and Diop’s shot was deflected out for a corner. Rodas got his head on the corner, but Marcelo and his beautiful self cleared it off the line.

In the 29th minute, the ref pulled out another card. This time it was Gavilan that went into the book for pulling on Modric. It seemed for a while that the ref was intent on giving ALL the cards. The match became really start-stop and both teams struggled to get it flowing. I understand that a balance is hard to find between calling fouls and letting them play, but this ref just wasn’t finding it.

In the 38th minute, Modric tried to pull of a shot but Mariño (I kept thinking the comms said “Mourinho”) made a save, pushing it out for a corner. Nacho was on the end of the corner but it was cleared as far as James, who delivered it in for Chicharito to head down and into goal.

I love a good goal poach! And since that’s what Chicharito is known for I adored this goal. As a coach, we tried to ingrain in our youth players to head the ball down when you’re in front of the goal. It’s more difficult for the keeper to get to ground and save a low ball like that than it is for them to save a ball that’s in the air.

I also think that Chicharito is the kind of striker that fits our counter-attacking playing style. He knows where to be to receive the ball and it’s nice to have him there. It’s a whole conflicting set of thoughts given who we’re missing right now, but it is working and I refuse to knock it.

The half ended with another yellow card for Levante. Pedro Lopez was booked for a bad challenge on Marcelo. The whistle blew and we had a nice lead going into the break.

Second Half:

The Levante began the second half by taking Gavilan off and bringing on Victor Perez in the 48th minute.

We didn’t get our first real chance until the 55th minute. It was like we’d gone into autopilot, like we tend to do, at the start of the second half. But Cris got drove into the box and unleashed a shot. Mariño, however, made a rather brilliant save to deny our resident tanning expert.

Levante responded by pressuring us. Pepe managed to stop a run by Garcia, then Nacho thwarted a chance by Morales.

In the 61st minute, we finally made it 3-0! Cristiano beat the Levante defense and finished calmly past Mariño, who had actually been excellent to be fair.

That made it 15 La Liga goals for Cristiano this season. This was only the 8th match of the season! I’m so glad he’s ours!

We continued to push forward and our next goal came only 5 minutes later through James. He collected a ball played over the top and finished delightfully into the bottom corner.

Levante decided it was time to make a change and David Barral replaced Casadesus in the 67th minute. Our first sub came shortly after. We got Illara in for Kroos, who had been much more active in this match than I think he’s been for us so far.

We retained possession for the next few minutes, neither pushing forward much nor letting Levante make a run toward our goal. Arbeloa was brought on for Marcelo in the 73rd minute and Modric had a chance just 2 minutes later! Mariño had to make a very good point-blank save.

The 76th minute saw Levante’s final sub, bringing in Jordi Xumetra for Garcia. And in the 79th minute, Modric had to be subbed after he picked up a little knock. Basically, the Levante defender (who I couldn’t see because my stream was awful) raked down the back of Lucky Luka’s achilles. The way Iker became papa bear and asked for the sub for Man Edith was kind of adorable.

Medran (super cutie!) was brought on to replace him. And he immediately made an impact.

In the 82nd minute Isco collected a pass from Medran, saw he had space to move into the box, and fired a shot from just inside the 18. I love a player who doesn’t need much space to shoot. Isco is one of those players but when he does have space he does brilliantly to take that as well.

We were absolutely dominating. We had 11 shots on target and 5 goals. Levante had only one. And I was quite happy that Levante seemed to have tamed themselves from their brutal style of play from previous seasons.

In the 89th minute I thought we might get a goal from Dani. It was like “You get a goal! You get a goal! You get a goal!” and Dani wanted in on the action. But as Cristiano broke forward and found Dani on the right, the cross couldn’t quite find its way into the box.

The ref added one minute of extra time. And the match ended Levante 0-5 Real Madrid. The win lifted us to 3rd place behind Sevilla and Barcelona. We face Liverpool on Wednesday in Champions League and Barcelona on Saturday in Liga. GAH!

Match Photos:

Post Match Comments:

(from realmadrid.com)

Photo 75

Ancelotti:

“It’s impossible to do more than Cristiano is doing,” explained the Italian coach.

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media in the press room at the Ciudad de Valencia and had words of praise for his team’s current form: “It was a difficult game to prepare and we did well, showing discipline and focus. Now we have time to recover and prepare well for the match on Wednesday. We’re on a good run and the team is doing really well.”

“Goals don’t come without effort, fight and focus. They all understood that and we come into this moment of the season in good physical and mental shape. All the players have shown that we have a very competitive squad. Those who have played less in the first part of the season have shown that they are in good shape and are motivated. They fit in well when they play in the team.”

Cristiano Ronaldo
“I think it’s impossible to do more than he’s doing. He has to keep this form up, and we’re all going to help him to keep going as he is.”

Modric change and players who missed out
“Modric had a knock. Now we have a few days to evaluate the situation of Bale, Benzema, Varane, Ramos and all the players who had fitness issues in this game. Bale had a problem with his gluteus and we preferred not to risk him. It was to avoid taking risks, it wasn’t player rotation.”

Photo 76

Isco:

“I’m happy about the goal and the team’s work”, said the Madrid player.

The midfielder from Malaga scored the last goal in the match against Levante and spoke of his happiness after the final whistle: “I’m very happy about the goal and team’s work, as it is always difficult after the international break. The team put it to them from the first minute and we got a good result in a very difficult ground. We are on a roll and ready for the stretch of the season coming up”.

“I’m still young, I have a lot of things to improve on, and that comes with minutes on the pitch. I’m happy with the chance the boss has given me and I hope to be an important player for the rest of the season. Now we have a very difficult and important match at Anfield. The team are doing very well at the moment and we hope to continue that way”.

(images and gifs from GF Sports, the-vip-football-collection, football-hqs, and realmadrid.com)

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

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