I wasn’t quite sure how I was feeling about this match. So rather than watch it live, I went to the gym so I could save myself the stress.
Well, that’s not the entire truth. I actually went to the gym because that’s when Cap was going to the gym and since my car is still at the collision center, I’m at his mercy.
Going in, Bilbao were in 6th and we were in 3rd. We can not afford to drop points but Bilbao like to give us problems.
The pre-match social media wasn’t exciting today but Sergio Llull graced the Bernabeu with his presence. He’s no Marcus Slaughter but he’s still wonderful.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Danilo; Kovacic, Modric, Kroos; James, Benzema, Ronaldo
Athletic Bilbao: Gorka Iraizoz; Oscar De Marcos, Aymeric Laporte, Xabi Etxeita, Mikel Balenziaga; Beñat Etxebarria, Ander Iturraspe; Javier Eraso, Sabin Merino, Iñigo Lekue; Aritz Aduriz
The match got started and we wasted no time in taking control. We were so quick taking control that our first goal came in the 3rd minute.
Cris received a ball from Karim and slammed it into the top corner. It was a loud scream of “SHUT UP” and a resounding middle finger or two to his haters.
It was nice to jump to a quick lead but shortly after, Bilbao started picking it up and we weren’t responding.
They had their first chance in the 9th minute and then in the 10th minute they equalized.
Varane (who had a really bad match) and Navas didn’t communicate. As Keylor came quickly out of goal to collected the ball Varane made a pass back to him but it was, in fact, nowhere near Keylor. Eraso jumped on it and put it away.
Varane was a bit downtrodden after that.
Etxeita picked up the first booking of the match in the 14th minute for a late challenge on Cris. Then Varane picked up a yellow in the 16th minute for a challenge on Aduriz. Didn’t look like a card to me. It wasn’t the first nor the last decision that the ref made that I didn’t agree with. Even Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen were commenting on the bad refereeing.
There was good play on both sides, forcing good saves from both keepers. Keylor continued to prove that he has more than deserved to stay at Real Madrid. And Iraizoz made a couple of fine saves on is end as well.
In the 30th minute Aduriz hit the crossbar and man did we get lucky!
In the 37th minute, James put us back in the lead with an excellent goal. I’ve said it before, and I will repeat. He does not score boring goals!
He touched just past his defender, saw the smallest opening, and curled a shot into the goal. And his celebration… He was relieved. He was vindicated. This was not typical, boyish James! Was that a “puta” I lip-read?
Balenziaga picked up a yellow card in the 43rd minute for going in late on James.
In the 45th minute, just before the end of the half, Kroos gave our boys more of a lead. The assist came from Ronaldo and #ToniLive slammed the ball into the net.
Is there a budding #ToniLive-Crispy bromance?! What do we call that? Kronaldo?
The half ended 3-1
No changes at the half and it was Bilbao that got things started.
Benz earned a freekick in the 52nd minute, just outside the box. His turn prior to it was very Zidane-esque. It was my favorite turn when I was playing. Though I definitely wasn’t as graceful as either of our hot, bald Frenchmen. Cristiano stepped up to take the freekick but hit the wall.
Team Pretty did well at keeping possession and pushing Bilbao back, but really we weren’t so much trying to score. It was bordering on possession for the sake of possession. Which I’m sure you know by now that I hate.
Bilbao used their first sub in the 62nd minute when Elustondo replacing Iturraspe.
In the 69th minute, Bilbao had a surge and forced a fabulous save out of San Keylor (yeah, I did).
In the 70th minute, Zizou replaced Danilo by giving us a Stalker! sighting. Bilbao used the same minute to bring in Iker Muniain for Lekue.
Modric found himself with a yellow card in the 72nd minute for a late challenge on Muniain. At which point we got an Isco for Kovacic substitution. Kovacic had a fabulous match. Really played well.
It was nice to hear the crowd quite loud. Sometimes I feel like the Bernabeu is too quiet.
In the 80th minute, Lucas Vazquez came in for James. I still adore Vazquez. I think he’s got a ton of potential and I can’t wait to watch him. I just don’t think it’s going to continue to be at Real Madrid.
In the 81st minute Viguera came in for Merino for Bilbao.
My heart broke in the 82nd minute when Baby Varane earned his second yellow card. It was, in my opinion, another BS yellow card. He jumped up for the header and I’m not sure what the ref saw. But it was a sending off and we were reduced to 10 men.
In the 87th minute, Cris gave his second middle finger to the haters. It was another good goal from our resident model/entrepreneur/orange wonder. It was Vazquez with the assist.
However, in the 90th Bilbao would not go quietly into that good night. Elustondo used his head to find the net off a truly great De Marcos cross.
After 2 minutes of extra time, that was it. We beat Bilbao at home!
Real Madrid 4 – 2 Athletic Bilbao
Zidane: “We are ready for Roma”
by Javier Garcia“The team are doing well in terms of fitness and play; I am happy with what we did against very good opponents”, he added.
Zinedine Zidane assessed the win against Athletic at the Santiago Bernabéu press room: “We are ready for the game on Wednesday in Rome. We are doing well in terms of fitness and play. I am happy with what we did against very good opponents. The important thing for us is to perform at our top level and win games. Over 90 minutes there are always difficult moments. I am more or less happy with all of our games”.
“We are always going to have errors, I am not worried about that. The good thing is that in the end we won. We faced a difficult opponent and we knew it. In football you are not always going to have control of chances and the ball. You have to try and make the smallest number of errors. With their first goal, Rafa (Varane) wanted to play it to Keylor. That is football and these things can happen”.
Cristiano on the wing
“We were looking for that. Cristiano is very important on the wing, with his speed and in one on one situations. Athletic were very strong pressuring and the idea was to look for space on the wing. He did that quite well. That is how the first goal came. Toni recovered the ball and passed to Cristiano. You are here to assess if he is doing well or not but today he once again showed that he is, I don’t know if I can say it, doing f……. well”.
“It brings back a lot of memories. I won it with this club as a player and as the assistant manager. It has something special. When you are a footballer you dream of winning the World Cup every four years, and of winning the Champions League every year. We are going to fight to do it”.
“I am happy with Kovacic’s game. He played really well and I took him off because he was a little tired, however that is normal. I wanted to give him playing time. He trains well and had a good game. I am happy with him and also with Isco. I am going to enjoy this game today and tomorrow I will think about the Roma game”.
“I am happy with him, he needed to score a goal. He is gradually gaining in intensity and also gaining importance in the team”.
“I am not worried. He is a young player, we are gradually going to ask more of him. What I want to see with players that make mistakes is that they realise the next time what they have to do correctly. However, he looks to be doing well. I don’t think his sending off was fair, I didn’t see the images but they told me that it was a normal jump”.
“The idea was to have Carvajal on the left and Danilo on the right. They both had a good game. It isn’t Dani’s favourite position but that was how things were today. We will see what we do in Rome. Today we tried that”.
The team is in form ahead of the game in Rome”, explained Kovacic.
Varane spoke after the game about the incidents that led to his sending off: “I always play fair, I don’t play to hurt the opponent. Neither of the incidents deserved a yellow card. I respect the refereeing team but it wasn’t fair. I jump to play the ball and I get above him. I don’t intend to hit the opponent”.
“The most important thing is that the team has responded well and put in a good performance against a difficult opposition. We need this continuity and we want to fight until the end. It’s important to win at home, we have to continue on this path. The Champions League is very important and we want to fight for both competitions.
Kovacic: “A big game from everyone”
“I’m very happy, like all the team. We’re well, the important thing is winning, not who plays. You can see how were are doing under Zidane and we have to stay on the same path. The fans are great and I’m happy. The team is in form ahead of the game in Rome, you could see this today. Wednesday’s game is important for us and in Champions League it’s always special”.
“Cristiano looks good to me and he’s fundamental for the team. Modric is a great player, a friend and he’s also fundamental for Real Madrid”.
Varane’s sending off
“I think his sending isn’t even a foul, but we don’t speak about the referees”.
Danilo: “It’s the moment of truth in the season”
“I’m happy with the result. We’ve worked hard and kept our concentration, that’s the important thing and the goals came. The coach was clear that Carvajal was going to play on the left. We try to do what the coach asks and win the game”.
“We are working a lot during the week and now is the moment of truth in the season. We’re strong and ready to win. For us nothing is imposible and we’ll keep working with our eyes on the first place in La Liga”.
Varane’ sending off
“The referee can make a mistake. I don’t think it was a foul. The important thing is that the group is with Varane and we’re together”.
Isco: “The first half was very competitive”
“Athletic set themselves up really well and created chances but I think we’ve had a great game in general and it’ll serve us well for the Rome game. The important thing is that we got the three points and we’re happy”.
“The first half was very competitive. We got in front early. The team has done well, we carried on how we started and thankfully at the end of the first half we’ve got the victory”.
“It’s a season with a lot of games, you have to rotate and to involve all the players. It’s going to be key between now and the end of the season. We all have to be 100% confident and willing to contribute to the team”.
James’ great goal against Athletic
by Barbara Jimenez“It was a good goal and helped the side to get the three points”, he stated.
James Rodríguez, the scorer of the second goal against Athletic, spoke to the media at the end of the game: “It was a good goal that helped the side to get the three points. I am feeling good on the pitch and I think that the entire side is doing well”.
“It is good to start regularly. You train to always be in good form and the manager makes the decisions. I try to be in good form for whenever Zidane wants. He talks a lot to everyone and that is good because it gives you a lot of encouragement to play well and show everything you have”.
“Varane’s sending off seems unfair, because when someone jumps, they jump like that. However, the referee is human and can also make mistakes, like everyone, but I think that he really overstepped the mark”.
“We are motivated for the Champions League. We want to go to Rome and win and go through to the quarter finals”.
“Cristiano is doing well, but I don’t think it is down only to him, but rather the work of everyone, and that is why he shines even more and scores goals”.
“Things are never absolutely perfect, and you always want to learn things. The entire side is on that same path. There are four months left to keep doing well”.
Post-Match Social Media:
Buen juego indeed, James! Glad to see your pretty little baby face back on the score sheet!
Yes, Keylor. It was a good effort. And a good result!
I still love Cris’ newly found love of social media
Truly a horrible Guti clone. What kind of almost hipster, but just homeless look is this?!
ToniLive blew kisses!
Here’s a little bonus. Zizou couldn’t contain himself with Cristiano. He even swore in his presser!
Edit: Malaga is next Saturday. It’s not the Madrid derby (thank you Lyd, I don’t know why I kept thinking next week was the 27th) but Malaga is still an important match. I don’t like missing this many defenders!
Champions League is also back this week. We will, luckily, have Varane for Roma on Wednesday.
¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!