Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid v Basel

28 Nov

Smoking ball

Confession: That photo isn’t even from our match but I couldn’t find a good one to start this post that was also from our match. And how cool is that photo?

Going into this match we’d already qualified for the Round of 16. Only Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund were yet to lose a match in Champions League this season. We’d scored 11 goals thus far and only conceded 2. Technically we didn’t need the win but is anything else acceptable? Really?

There were no pre-game besos, but there was pre-game intensity. And a little Gareth/Cristiano lovin’.

Lineups:

Basel Starting XI

Basel: Tomas Vaclik; Philip Degen, Fabian Schar, Marek Suchy, Behrang Safari, Mohamed Elneny, Fabian Frei, Luca Zuffi, Derlis Gonzalez, Breel Embolo, Shkelzen Gashi

FC Basel 1893 v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Fabio Coentrao; Isco, Toni Kroos; James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema

No to racism

 

Can I take a moment to fangirl over our attacking lineup? James, Gareth, Cristiano and Karim. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to repeat it. Aren’t you glad it’s ours?

Our first CL match of the season was against Basel when we beat the Swiss club 5-1. Basel had won their previous three CL matches at home, so they weren’t going to just roll over for this one.

We got the match kicked off and the first order of business was a foul by Toni. Even though Basel earned a freekick out of it, we got the ball back. Benzema was offside when Sergio tried to get a through ball to him.

Basel found themselves offside in the second minute, and only half a minute later Cristiano earned a freekick. We started a bit slow, to be honest.

Our first real chance on goal came in the 15th minute from a corner. Bale headed Coentrao’s corner directly into the hands of the Basel keeper.

In the 17th minute, we almost had another chance when Gareth and Cris showed some good pace going forward. The Pony even tried getting in on the action but a bad touch allowed Basel to clear the ball.

In the 20th minute, The Tanned One took a shot from what was probably a really unlikely angle. Vaclik was able to gather it after originally spilling it. This was more like it. Just two minutes later, Gareth chipped the ball in toward Cristiano but Vaclik was able to grab it.

Basel had started well, forcing us to play a bit out of our comfort zone, but were beginning to allow us more and more possession. And typically, the more possession we have the more we can press forward and be able to create goal scoring chances. We really have a lot of players that can be dangerous.

In the 29th minute, Basel had their first shot on goal but Elneny was probably a bit embarrassed by it. He had options to pass it off but shot instead. It ended up very high and to the right.

In the 31st minute, Isco touched the ball forward to Ronaldo. He passed to Bale who was, again, offside. The response by Basel, or Gonzalez to be specific, was a fabulous dive. He was caught slightly by Fabio but it was a dive worthy of the Busquets school.

FINALLY!

Our goal finally came in minute 35 when Benzema worked his little butt off on the left wing. Just when I thought he might run the ball over the line, he poked a pass to our original underwear model. From there, all Cris had to do was tap the ball home. The goal brought him level with Raul at 71 Champions League goals.

I love that Arbeloa had the cojones to give Cris a little bit of a head rub. Only my fellow Spartan dares mess with the perfection of Cristiano’s hair.

When Basel made their way to our end of the pitch, The Pony made a mistake and Embolo picked up the ball. A funny bobble meant Keylor was able to come out to collect the ball. Not long after, it was another mistake by The Ramos but Varane was there to clean it up after Embolo couldn’t react quick enough.

In the 42nd minute, Gonzalez had an embarrassing miss for Basel that may have made a few of us gasp. The linesman had raised the flag for offside, though. Then Embolo made his way around The Pony again but missed just wide of the post. Sergio also earned a yellow card in the same minute. It means he’ll miss our next match.

The half ended with us clutching a one goal lead.

Second Half:

This is why I need to stop calling Varane “The Baby.” I find myself checking out his butt. A fine butt it is. The problem lies in… Well, I think you can see my issue.

And earlier when I said Karim worked his “little” butt off, I was mistaken. It is not little. He has quite the booty. Someone has been doing his squats. (No, I am not going to mention Arbeloa grabbing his junk. Oh.)

With no changes going into the second half, our first real order of business was for Fabio to earn a yellow card for a challenge on Embolo.

At 51′ Benzema earned a freekick about 30 yards out. Cris took the kick, and it dipped well but Vaclik managed to touch it just wide.

In the 56th minute, Frei made a dangerous pass to Gashi inside our box. His shot, which was horribly wide, deflected off Sergio. It looked like Gashi wanted a handball but the ref just wasn’t interested.

In the 59th minute, Gonzalez was stretchered off the pitch. But the star pupil of Busquets’ School of Diving was back on the pitch and running just two minutes later.

Some beautiful play between War Kitten and Crispy brought us forward but Benzema couldn’t get his pass back to Gareth, who decided to remind us he was on the pitch at about that moment.

Basel pushed forward, with Embolo beating Ramos and making a good cross to Gashi. Navas was off his line and Gashi headed the ball from just outside the box. The header, thankfully, went over the bar.

Then Keylor made a brilliant save when Embolo made his way between our two center backs and then rounded our new(est) keeper. Navas made a brilliant, Iker-in-his-prime style recovery and full stretch dive to save it one-handed.

Navas save

Basel had a near chance when Embolo missed just wide at the back post off the resulting corner. The past 10 minutes really belonged to Basel and the worry was starting to set in. Would we be able to hold onto our lead? Could we extend it?

Taking a play from Arsene Wenger’s book of substitutions (70th minute or die!), Ancelotti decided to bring Illara in for Benz. It was an interesting substitution but potentially allowed Isco to move further up and become more offensive for Gareth and Cris.

And that’s what we saw in the 74th minute. Isco created a great chance for Bale down the left, who took two touches into the box and walloped the ball with his left foot. It hammered the crossbar and back out. SO CLOSE!

Basel’s first substitution came in the 76th minute as striker Ahmed Hamoudi came on for right-back Degen. They knew they had the chance for the equalizer, I suppose. Bit of a gamble, but if it came off then the manager would be hailed as a genius.

Ronnie hit the woodwork a minute later when his shot ricocheted off the post. The play started with The Pony finding Coentrao who threaded it to the inside for Bale (who I really need a nickname for). His square pass was to Cris about 10 yards out. It was a tough shot with his right foot and the post denied our second goal.

With 10 minutes to go, Schar picked up a yellow card when he took out Sir Tans-A-Lot. For a moment it looked nasty, but Cris got up. Thank the Ballon d’Or winning, hair gel wearing, underwear modeling, soccer gods.

Basel’s second substitution was to replace Frei with Marcelo Diaz. Then, Hamoudi let a shot fly after he found himself with a ball poked to him from Sergio. The effort was way wide and didn’t trouble Navas.

Basel’s final sub came on before Carlo had even used our second. Yoichiro Kakitani replaced Zuffi for more firepower up front from the Swiss.

It didn’t take long for Ancelotti to decide to use our second substitution. In the 88th minute, Juggy James was replaced by Merry Marcelo. Basel were giving themselves attacking options and we were looking to defend.

It was a bit of a confusing moment for Marcelo, as the fourth official had put in Isco’s number on the board.

There was a delay of game for a few pitch invaders, which I have to say security dealt with rather well. Is anyone else just extremely tired of pitch invaders? And judging by a few of the photos, it looks like they’re starting to annoy Cris a bit as well. As gracious as he’s always been it really has to get tiring when you’re trying to work.

With the pitch invaders dealt with, the referee indicated there would be five minutes of stoppage time. Basel got right to business, with Coentrao conceding a corner and Kakitani missing a shot from outside the box shortly after.

Our final substitution came in the second minute of added time. Nacho replaced Isco, bringing our on-field defender tally to six. Not that I’m complaining, I always love a game in which Stalker gets to play. I also preferred not to concede a goal. I like this winning streak that we’re on.

And that was it. We got our win, Ancelotti’s 15th in a row, by a narrow margin. We’ve been a bit spoiled recently with larger margins, so this didn’t feel as good. But as I said before, nothing else is acceptable by Real Madrid’s high standards.

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

Ancelotti Post Basel Press Conference

Ancelotti:

“I am happy with the 15 wins but the players deserve the credit, they are having a fantastic season.”

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press after Real Madrid’s win over Basel: “We didn’t play to our usual level because we were slower than normal, but after the goal we controlled the match well and were committed at the back. All the players fought hard and that is why we won.”

“We struggled a bit more in the second half. The opposition played with a lot of intensity. At this stage of the season it is normal to not always be at your best but we were able to win quite easily and that is good.” 

The opposition

“Basel played with a lot of intensity during the second half and threatened us on the counter-attack. We defended well during this period of the game and were unlucky to not finish our own counter-attacking moves. Ultimately we got a win, and that’s the most important thing.” 

Equalling the record of straight wins

“I’m very happy. Everything that we can do to make history with this fantastic club is good. The players deserve the credit, they are having a fantastic season.”

“Basel played with a different spirit and a different system today. They played with a lot of intensity, attacked a lot more and pressed the ball up front”.

Keylor Navas

“He played well. He had a quiet night. He didn’t have many chances to demonstrate his quality because the defence was so good. He looked very assured to me with all of his saves.”

His thoughts on Liverpool-Basel

“I think Basel are better than Liverpool at the moment. I think that as a team they are in great physical shape and are well organised on the pitch. The game in Anfield won’t be easy for either side, but Basel have a slight advantage.”

Bale Post Basel Comments

Bale:

“I told the coach that I am willing to play in any position, I am very happy”, said Isco.

Real Madrid left St Jakob Park with their mission accomplished, a win and top of the group. This was shown by the players who came out to talk to the press following the match. Bale stated “The important thing was the victory and we have managed that, ensuring that we go through to the next stage as table leaders.”

“We go away happy because we have achieved our main aim, which was to make it into the top 16 teams in the Champions League”.

Isco: “The team is playing well”
“I told the coach that I am willing to play anywhere, I just want to play. I am very happy. The team is playing well and I hope that it can go on like that for as long as possible. Basel pushed us quite a lot and we were brilliant. It was a day to obtain the three points”.

“It is always very special to return home. Malaga gave me everything but now I am playing in another shirt and I am happy. I hope we can get another victory and keep up the run”

Keylor Navas: “Happy with the 15 victories”
“We are happy because the team won and managed to obtain 15 successive victories. Basel played well, things didn’t work out like in other matches but we managed to win. We all like to win and hope to continue to do so”.

“I am content and working hard. I am happy to have helped and played my part today. I train every day in order to be ready and help the team for when the coach gives me an opportunity. Everyone wants to play, you have to be patient and I always have been.”

Social Media Corner:

The boys took to social media following the match, as they often do. Here’s what they had to say:

James and Marcelo both posted the same photo, while Coentrao’s version had Sergio giving the camera a sexy littly side glance.

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

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

One Response to “Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid v Basel”

  1. Sweet November 28, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    I’m really liking Marcelo’s long hair!

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