Match Recap: Real Madrid v UD Almeria

4 May

Moment of silence for Nepal

I don’t think there is any possible way that I could love the Bernabeu more than I already do. It’s glorious, and beautiful, and special… And I just miss the hell out of it (along with the entire city of Madrid).

We were at home against Almeria and needed a win to keep Barcelona in view. I’m still holding out for a loss or draw from them. They’re very strong at the moment, but let me have this!

I’m starting our social media coverage with Benzema, who posted about his last recovery session before returning to Madrid. It looks more like an I-like-kickboxing! session to me.

View this post on Instagram

💪📱 #K

A post shared by Karim Benzema (@karimbenzema) on

Also bonus Instagram posts from Karim because this photo of him with Melia is adorable, even though you can’t see her face (good for you Karim).

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#MB

A post shared by Karim Benzema (@karimbenzema) on

Jese gave us this shot of himself, Juggy James, and Deer-In-The-Headlights Kroos

Toni, who I’m sure was very disappointed by Dallas being knocked out of the NBA playoffs, gave us another deer-in-the-headlights shot.

Varane showed some leg

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Cutie-patootie Borja Mayoral tweeted this photo of himself and Isco to help me get over that ridiculous photo of Arbeloa.

And Sergio Llull was watching the match in person with fellow jugador de balloncesto, Facu Campazzo.

The team gathered this morning to spend some time in their rooms at Valdebebas before the match.

With Karim, Gareth, and Luka all still out with injury and both Dani and Sergio suspended, there were five changes to our normal starting lineup. It was also the first call up for Martin Odegaard.

Hello… Yes… Tie my shoes please.

Nope. It’s not my day, mate.

Why do I have to do it?

 

Lineups:

Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Fabio Coentrao; Toni Kroos, Illarra, James Rodriguez; Jese, Chicharito, Cristiano Ronaldo

UD Almeria: Ruben; Ximo Navarro, Angel Trujillo, Mauro dos Santos, Sebastian Dubarbier; Thomas Partey, Verza; Edgar Mendez, Corona, Mane; Tomer Hemed

Real Madrid starters

The Bernabeu held a moment of silence for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

We got the ball rolling (literally) and had early possession. We even got our first chance of the game in the 4th minute. Arbeloa played a beautiful ball in to James head, but our dancing Colombian couldn’t steer it in.

Then Crispy forced a save out of Ruben in the 7th minute and had a header go over the crossbar after the resulting corner.

We were a bit lethargic, as we sometimes are in the first half of the match, and we weren’t doing much to test Almeria. They were even looking relatively strong.

In the 27th minute, Illarra thought he’d been fouled in the box but the ref wasn’t having it. To be fair, it wasn’t a penalty.

Then in the 28th minute, Cris earned a freekick in a dangerous area but the man with the golden ball couldn’t keep his freekick down.

As the clock wore on, the game got a bit choppy and the ref had to intervene in a number of late challenges. No cards were given, however.

This was the biggest entertainment of the match.

Synchronized Throw-Ins… A new Olympic sport?

And it was getting so boring they panned to our little Luka watching from the bench.

FINALLY, just as I was getting frustrated, it was James to the rescue. What a BEAUTIFUL goal it was! My inner fangirl has no words. Just squeals of delight!

*drools*

I’m sorry. I could watch that strike all day. In fact, I’ve been watching it for a week now…

The whistle was blown for the half after just one minute of added time. But not before Fox Soccer decided to jump the gun a bit. They deleted their tweet but I thought quickly and grabbed a screenshot.

Second Half:

We began the second half with a one goal lead. We just needed to hang onto it or, preferably, score more goals.

Luckily “our” next goal came in the 49th minute. It was originally credited to Cris but Kroos’ cross came off Dos Santos for an Almeria OG.

The ref awarded Almeria a freekick in the 56th minute that, for me, was nothing. But I suppose I’m not the ref, am I?

It was a good freekick but we have our Scooby Doo villain (you can’t tell me Pepe doesn’t look like a Scooby Doo villain!) to swoop in and foil the plans of those derned kids!

Almeria made their first substitution in the 59th minute bringing in Zongo to replace Mendez. They used their second sub in the 63rd minute to replace Thomas with Espinoza.

Carletto also took that opportunity to make a double substitution for us. Isco was in for Juggy James and Keanu Ramos replaced Illarramendi.

Then in the 67th minute, Almeria made their final sub as Azeez replaced Verza.

In the 69th minute I nearly got my Baby Varane goal. He got his head on a Kroos corner but it was just wide.

Coentrao went into the book first when he was given a yellow in the 76th minute for a late challenge on Navarro.

Our third goal came in the 83rd minute. Chicharito played the ball across as Arbeloa was racing in (he wants to be a forward so bad, bless). All he had to do was redirect and Arbeloa had our goal.

GOOD FOR HIM! No defender in La Liga has been involved in more goals this season than Arbeloa. He has 1 goal and 5 assists! I refuse to address anything else about that goal. Lozil already said everything I could say nicely about it anyway.

In the 86th minute, we got some Stalker! love when Nacho replaced Baby Varane.

After 3 minutes of added time, we had our 3 points with 3 goals. Real Madrid 3-0 UD Almeria

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

Ancelotti post match

Ancelotti:

“We didn’t play with a lot of intensity, but we always had the scoreboard under control”, added the Italian.

Carlo Ancelotti analysed Real Madrid’s win over Almería in the Santiago Bernabéu press room: “It was a transitional match. We didn’t play with a lot of intensity or with a lot of quality. We came into it on the back of a really phsyically and mentally tiring week. Today we took a bit of a breather, we didn’t play with a lot of intensity, but we always had the scoreboard under control”.

“We’re not convinced that Barcelona are going to drop points; we are convinced that we can win the four games that we have left. I don’t have any personal ambitions, because my trophy cabinet is already full. Only for Real Madrid, the fans, the club and my players”.

The squad
“All the players did what they had to do. Those who don’t tend to play always can find it more difficult. I’m happy with the work everyone did, including those who maybe didn’t have a great match, but put in a lot of effort. I’m not unfair. I make decisions, it’s my job. I know that those who don’t play aren’t happy, but it isn’t unfair”.

Bale and Benzema
“We’re in a very important period. We’re not planning to rotate, but to field the best team we can and try to beat Sevilla. Bale trained individually and tomorrow it’s possible he’ll train with the team. Karim is still working individually, he has progressed a lot and we think that he can travel to Turin”.

“Cristiano is in very good shape, he recovers very well after games and he’s fresh. He isn’t suffering from tiredness. He didn’t score today, but he worked hard. If he didn’t score today, he can score on Saturday. My personal opinion is that if Cristiano doesn’t score a goal from here on in, I’ll still be happy. He has scored 50 and I’ve never had a player who scored 50 a season”.

Illarra
“I’m not worried about him, because he played very well in Vigo. Today he didn’t play to such a high level, but he has the complete confidence of his coach”.

Defensive work
“There are games that we don’t defend very well; today we defended very well. When the team is focused, it defends very well. Last year we did it very well against Bayern. We don’t always have that attitude. Sometimes we’re a bit out of position. In the first half we didn’t press very well, in the second it was better”.

Odegaard
“He has to work, train and adapt. He’s very young. Today he was with the match squad for the first time and he has time in the future to make his debut”.

Pepe post match

Pepe:

Pepe began the game against Almería and spoke afterwards about the win over the Andalusians: “We had a lot of the possession and created loads of chances in the first half but the ball wouldn’t go in. We have to keep working and fighting to win La Liga, that’s the obligation that comes with wearing the Real Madrid jersey, working hard and showing determination”.

“We were able to get into our stride and it was an easy game on paper because it was at home. The team performed well and James scored a beautiful goal for the enjoyment of everyone. Now we have an important game coming up on Saturday against Sevilla and we need to prepare for it well. We are going to fight for the La Liga title right until the end”.

“The whole team is well able to play football. We have a squad with a lot of quality and what mattered most was getting a foothold of the match and that’s exactly what we did”.

Varane:

“We are going to battle until the end”
“We’ll continue giving it everything until the end of the season and will try to win all our remaining games in order to put pressure on Barcelona. We are going to battle until the end. We are focusing on our upcoming games, we’ll see what happens afterwards”.

“I’ve been playing more regularly in 2015 because of injuries but also because of technical decisions. I always try to give it my all for the team and I’m really happy. I’m part of the manager’s plans and if I’m able to help the team, then all the better. I try to repay the manager for the confidence he has shown in me. I’m in great form and hope to maintain this level until the end of the season”.

Arbeloa post match

Arbeloa:

Arbeloa scored the final goal in the victory over Almería and offered his analysis of the win over the Andalusians: “The match in Vigo demanded a lot from us, we put in a huge effort and maybe we felt it today. And guys came in who aren’t in the playing rhythm of others and that is also difficult. Almería came to play football and they felt at ease, but the team put in a huge effort and got the game won”.

“I don’t score a lot of goals and it’s always nice to do so, all the more so at the Bernabéu. I’m happy about the goal, about the victory and because we got the win in a game that was trickier than expected. Now we have to go to Seville and carry on fighting for La Liga”.

Race for the title
“The day we lost in Barcelona, we knew that we had to win the 10 games that we had left. If they do that too, we’ll congratulate them. But we have to put as much pressure on as possible and win all the games we have left, so that they have to fight and are made to sweat right to the end”.

James’ goal
“It’s a great goal, like many that he has scored. I’m happy, because he’s showing that he’s a great player and is worth all the money that he cost”.

Cristiano Ronaldo
“I’m not upset about Cristiano’s gesture. It’s normal that he should be angry, he didn’t score and his ambition is always to score. The Pichichi trophy is at stake for him and we all understand that and try to help him”.

“We’re not tired coming into the run-in. We have fuel in the tank, so we come into it in great shape, with all the strength in the world. In the Champions League our fate is in our own hands, and in La Liga it isn’t: our aim is to win the seven games that we have left if we get to the final in Berlin”.

Illarra
“I don’t think the crowd focus on him. Here the crowd are very demanding when you have a bad day at the office or play a bad pass. In Vigo he put in a huge effort, he was the one who ran the most, and also he played today with flu or a headache, so we have to thank him for that huge effort”.

Jesé
“The crowd are demanding and they know the quality he possesses, which he showed last season. This year is a transitional one after his injury. I’m sure that he’ll give us a lot from now to the end of the season”.

Keylor Navas:

“At home we had to do well and win”
“In Primera División there are no easy games. Almería have to win because of the position that they’re in in the table, and we had to do well and we wanted to win. We managed it, we kept a clean sheet and we’re happy”.

First goal of the match
“James is a player with a lot of quality and in those positions he finishes really well. It’s a great goal, it makes us all happy and we have to enjoy it. It’s a goal similar to the one that he got at the World Cup, and another that he scored in Granada”.

Season run-in
“We’re going to carry on with the same mentality that we’ve had. The group have always been united and strong and we’re going to carry on that way during the run-in to the season, which we all want to round off on a high”.

Hard work in training
“It’s always nice to play, and that’s what we all work for. We’re going to keep up the hard work that we’re putting in in every training session, to take advantage of our opportunities and give our all for Real Madrid”.

Social Media Corner:

War Kitten was with the team in spirit and celebrated accordingly.

I have this vision in my head of Sergio Llull jumping around yelling “VICTORY! VICTORY! VICTORY!” like the guys in Remember The Titans.

Arbeloa always believes (and the pre-match “Bang! Bang!” works, apparently)

James shared some of the match photos and recognized that three points is more important than a stunning goal.

Keylor Navas thanked the fans for their support.

Very important victory indeed, Baby!

We’re still 2 points behind Barcelona for La Liga.

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

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

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