I am happy to announce that I made it from Madrid to Washington safely. There was a downpour on Sunday night in which I thought I’d be swept down Gran Via by the rains. Lozil did remind me, however, that I was almost blown out to sea in San Sebastian so at least that didn’t happen again.
My trip was short but eventful. When I arrived on Thursday morning, I had to haggle with the doorman for the keys to my friend’s apartment. Another friend was amazing enough to let me borrow her season passes and I met her son for the first time. My friend’s wallet was stolen on Friday night, but we avoided a major loss. And I was urged not to fall down the seats at the Bernabeu because I was jumping around so enthusiastically. We were quite close to the Ultras.
I am also WAY behind, but I wanted to make sure I got this done. I’m providing my really bad photos as well. So I’m really just going to do a fly-by because this is a week old by now.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Raphael Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Danilo; Toni Kroos, Casemiro; Gareth Bale, Isco, Mateo Kovacic; Cristiano Ronaldo
Levante: Ruben; Juanfran, Simao, Zou Feddal; Tono Garcia, Jose Luis Morales, Jose Mari, Victor Camarasa, Victor Casadesus; Deyverson, Roger Marti
Prior to the match, Cris presented his Golden Boot to the Bernabeu. I find these moments to be exceptionally awkward but there was a sincerity to him thanking the fans that I didn’t really expect. Granted, I saw the whole thing through an extremely long camera lens, but it was quite sincere.
There was also a minute of silence for Zoco, which was much less silent than I expected. I know it’s impossible to keep near 80,000 people quiet, but I was disappointed when I routinely heard people talking.
Once the match got started, it didn’t take long for Levante to Levante. Meaning making their notoriously hard challenges. There was a particularly hard one on Isco in the 3rd minute that I think nearly everyone sitting near me wanted to run out on the pitch for because the ref didn’t call anything.
In the 7th minute, the Ultras unveiled a fabulous tifo for Raul. And I sang my heart out with them. It was a Raul chant instead of the normal Juanito one. At least, it was from the people closest to me.
The first yellow card of the match was in the 13th minute against Feddal.
In the 16th minute, from where I was sitting in Fondo Sur, it looked like Cris probably should have gotten a penalty for being brought down in the box. I will admit that when I saw it later, it wasn’t as clear as I thought.
Levante should have had a goal in the 25th minute when Danilo pretty much just stopped playing. The cross he should have picked up went across but Deyverson couldn’t get a good foot on it.
We scored our first goal in the 28th minute! And it was our ball of sunshine that did most of the work and scored the goal.
We got our second goal only two minutes later. ToniLive played a nice little ball into Cris and he sent it to the bottom corner.
And there was Cris Jr’s little celebration.
In the 37th minute Keylor saved our butts again. It was a very hard shot from Roger.
Both Kovacic and Jose Luis Morales ended up with yellows before the 45 minutes was up and the half ended Real Madrid 2 – 0 Levante.
The half started with Lucas Vazquez coming on in place of Bale. I kind of love Vazquez. There’s a bit of Jese type potential to him and he adds a lovely bit of effortless skill to our frontline.
Deyverson was booked in the 49th minute. It was for catching Vazquez with his arms.
In the 51st minute, it was Casemiro who played our savior when Marcelo slipped and was beat by Deyverson. When is Casemiro going to get a Brazil call-up? Crikey he’s been impressive. Quietly impressive.
In the 58th minute, Jose Mari picked up a yellow and gave away a freekick on the edge of the box. Can we all get on the “don’t-let-Cristiano-take-free-kicks” wagon? I love him. I really do. But he’s scored 2 of his last 89 freekicks. It’s time to release the reins, great one!
Levante used their first sub in the 61st minute to replace Jose Mari with Jefferson Lerma.
Our next substitution saw Isco replaced by Jese in the 69th minute. The reception by the Bernabeu for Isco was pure class.
Deyverson was taken out in the 75th minute and replaced by Ruben Garcia. Then in the 77th minute, Kovacic was replaced by Marcos Llorente.
In the 81st minute, Jese had a header go over the net. From where I was it looked in and so I looked like an idiot celebrating a goal.
At least I got to celebrate one for realsies (yeah, I did) just a minute later. It was very pretty. I love the way Jese works into the box and fires from distance.
Is there any way to say that without it sounding dirty as hell?
Vazquez had a fabulous shot go just wide in the 86th minute.
There were 3 minutes of added time but the match ended Real Madrid 3 – 0 Levante. We’re holding onto the top of the table baby!
Benitez: “We’re potent up front and score goals without conceding them”
by Barbara Jiminez“The scoreline is a reflection of our identity as a team; we’re on the right track”, said the coach.
Rafa Benítez assessed Real Madrid’s win over Levante in the press room at the Bernabéu: “We know that we’re a potent team up front and that it was important to open up the game. The 3-0 scoreline is a reflection of our identity as a team: we’re potent up front, we create good attacking positions in and around the opposition area and score goals without conceding them, thanks to the work we do as a team and Keylor Navas’ saves”.
“At 2-0 we had seven academy products on the bench and wanted to manage the flow of the game and achieve a balance. Cristiano took on the responsibility because we were lacking people up front, he had to spearhead the team and that’s what he did. We had a lot of players out and the fact that we’ve won 3-0 and that the team put together some pretty good spells is very positive”.
“After going 2-0 up, with the intense week that he has had, we saw that he was tired and looked to bring on pace”.
“He was much closer to what we all expect of him. He’s a player with quality and talent, and he has to make the most of his chances. That’s the way it is at Real Madrid; the demands are really high and all his team-mates are very good”.
“He has to work the way he did today, penetrating defences, and do that continually. It’s very positive for me and for every Real Madrid fan. He has to keep that up because there is a lot of competition”.
“There were several positives today: seven academy products on the bench and the odd one on the pitch, the entrances of Lucas [Vázquez] and Jesé that injected energy, speed and penetration, and Marcos Llorente’s debut. A lot of positive aspects in the assessment of the game, and the team is up at the top of the table”.
Minute’s silence for Zoco
“The minute’s silence is a tribute to another Real Madrid legend. I met him and all the memories I have of him are really great, he was a fantastic person who was a really good player and it’s only fitting to commemorate him and pay this tribute to him”.
“He’s in good form, he brings us competitiveness and balance in the midfield and is good in the air, and that helps the team defensively”.
Aspects for improvement
“We’re on the right track. There are three or four attacking and defensive aspects that we could improve and we’re working on that; I’m not going to give away too much for our opponents. But if the other team manages to hurt you, if you’re able to score goals you can win games. To win games and so to win trophies, what’s important to me is that we continue to create good attacking positions in and around the opposition goalmouth and that the other team carve out fewer and fewer chances”.
“In these types of games you know that if you score a goal the other team open up and, if you concede, your opponents gain in confidence and tighten things up at the back, and it’s harder for you to find space. We have conceded two goals in all competitions so far. Keylor is doing very well, the team is doing its job defensively, always keeping an attacking mentality and looking to threaten the opposition goal”.
“He’s a player with vision, quality and is a constant presence in the team’s play. When he plays further back he brings us an ability to bring the ball out and brings precision, and when he plays further up he has freedom of movement and what I want is for him to play closer to the area, because he has a good shot to be taken advantage of”.
Karim Benzema availability for PSG match
“I don’t know, they’re all working hard. I spoke to him this morning; everybody says they’re better and everybody wants to play, but we have to assess it”.“I am happy to return to the team and get that good feeling back”, said Danilo.
Marcelo, a goalscorer against Levante, analysed the 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabéu: “I am happy with the goal but the most important thing is the three points. It is difficult because there are a lot of injured players, but we have to play for the national teams because we are called up and we also have to play with Real Madrid, and that happens at all clubs”.
“Jesé did well, he helped the team a lot, he ran and scored a goal. Everyone deserves game time and anyone that plays has to run and help and whoever deserves it will play; Danilo has incredible quality and is going to work a lot with Carvajal. We have very good full-backs”.
“I am very happy, I always try to play with joy and motivation in order to make the fans happy. It is really joyful to hear them chant my name. The celebration is something that we do when we are happy. Today was a difficult game and we are aiming to win the games on Wednesday and Saturday”.
The dressing room
“I have been at Real Madrid for almost 9 years and I always try to avoid bad things and I am certain that you don’t know what happens in the dressing room. It does not bother me because I know the way the press are”.
Danilo: “I am happy to return to the team”
“I am happy to return to the team and get that good feeling back but I must keep working. I have not had many training sessions and I need to keep improving in order to play more. As for Carvajal, it is always important to have competition. We work hard on a daily basis and the manager ultimately decides who plays, but both of us are ready”.
“Cristiano is happy and you can see that in his play and dedication. When he is doing well you can see it and Real Madrid win. Marcelo is one of the best players in the world, he is my teammate and he will always be a great help to Madrid. He is a player that gives us a lot”.
PSG and injuries
“It will be a difficult game, they are a great side, but we are ready to play. Having so many injuries is difficult but we have players to replace the injured and those that play have to give one hundred percent”.
Nacho: “The team was well organised”
“It was an important game for us because our last games at home have not been at all good. The team had a good game, we got the three points and kept another clean sheet. We were perhaps a little too relaxed at the beginning but they did not create too many clear chances against us. The team was well organised and we improved over the course of the game”.
Keylor and Jesé
“Keylor is an absolutely great goalkeeper and he is showing it. It is a pleasure to have him in goal, because he really makes us feel secure; for Jesé, the goal was important. He had a good game, scored and it has spurred him on”.
Lucas Vázquez: “La Liga is a long-distance race”
“When I play I do the best I can and always try to help the team. La Liga is a long-distance race, and today at home, we had to get the win. We had a good game overall and if we prevent sides from scoring then we will win the majority of our games. A good defence provides solidity and you notice that when you attack”.“There are nerves at the start but when you get on the the pitch you just feel like any other player”, explained the academy footballer.
Marcos Llorente made his debut in an official game with the Real Madrid first squad. He did so in the game corresponding to matchday eight of La Liga as the Whites enjoyed a comprehensive victory against Levante at the Santiago Bernabéu. The academy midfielder came on in the 77th as a substitute for Kovacic: “I am very happy. I had already played in several games during the preseason, but today was my official debut and I am very happy with how my teammates treated me. I want to thank the coaching staff for the opportunity”.
“There are always nerves at the start but when you get on the pitch you just feel like any other player. I played like I always play for Castilla and things went well. Whenever we play the fans really help us and I was surprised when I came on how much that really encouraged me”.
“They were closing down a lot, they were pressuring us, but when we scored the two goals they opened up and we had more chances”.
The Champions League match against PSG and the match against Celta de Vigo have posts coming! I always thoroughly enjoy being in the Bernabeu and this match was no exception.
¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!