“It’s the Champions!”
Is it just me or does that song get stuck in your head way too easily?
Prior to the match, there were some issues outside of the Bernabeu. According to Spanish police, 12 Legia fans were arrested after a large group of them started throwing things at police and attacking other passers-by. It was awful. ESPN wrote about it here, but you can also head over to AS English for video of the incidents. Just don’t read their post-match write up. It’s bordering on over-the-top scathing.
The return leg of this fixture is being held behind closed doors because of Legia’s fans. UEFA handed them sanctions due to racism and further sanctions because of violence in the stadium during their Champions League match against Dortmund. The ultras of Legia (at least it’s been identified as their ultras thus far) are fucking horrible.
Just talking about it briefly has put me in a foul mood. Let’s get some social media to lighten the mood, eh?
Pre-Match Social Media:
I see the Benzema team’s photoshop skills are improving slightly! I’m so proud!
The Kovacic team must read this blog (or listen to the podcast) because the choice of this photo is an example of one of the things I love about him. That strength he shows on the ball when he’s challenged. And he was being challenged by multiple defenders. He’s better on the ball than Casemiro.
Sometimes basic is good… Right?
Lucas’ dreams have no limits. Neither do mine, buddy. Neither do mine.
My second favorite Madridista basketball player (my favorite is still Marcus Slaughter) FINALLY showed up at a match!
Sergio and Lukita were also there cheering on their teammates. They have quite the bromance going. First they vacation together, then they watch UCL matches together, even take each other’s photos (I’m assuming). It’s quite obvious that a career in photography is not in Sergio’s future…
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Danilo, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez; Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale
Legia Warsaw: Arkadiusz Malarz; Bartosz Bereszynski, Jakub Czerwinski, Jakub Rzezniczak, Adam Hlousek; Guilherme, Tomasz Jodlowiec, Thibault Moulin, Michal Kucharczyk; Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe; Miroslav Radovic
Full disclosure: That Legia lineup was probably the second hardest lineup I’ve ever had to write. With that said, I’m still glad Kuba doesn’t play for one of our opponents. Błaszczykowski is the worst to spell repeatedly.
So Zizou, in whatever rotation it is he has going, decided to go with 8 virtual attackers and 2 defenders. My heart started racing as soon as the lineup was announced. In fact, here’s the conversation I had with ForzaSusan
I apologize for my rudimentary Photoshop skills. I don’t have the program on my computer. I feel like I should be better if I talk so much shit about Toni’s skills and mine are also shit.
To start, it looked like Legia were going to have a hard time getting the ball out of their defensive third. Which is great for us but not so good for Legia.
We had a couple of half-chances early but then Legia broke in the 9th minute and forced Keylor into a save.
In the 12th minute, Odjidja hit the post and it SOMEHOW managed to stay out. I nearly fainted!
But in the 16th minute, we got ourselves a GareBear goal! He placed the ball really well into the far corner. He made it look so easy!
Our second goal came in the 20th minute when a Marcelo shot took a deflection off of Czerwinski and ended up in the net. It was deemed an own goal but I have missed Marcelo’s offensive prowess.
Danilo (or Danny-Low as my commentator called him) gave away a penalty in the 21st minute for a stupid, stupid challenge in the box. Radovic stepped up and scored for Legia.
In the 37th minute, Ronaldo made a really nice pass to Asensio and my new hair crush placed it smartly into the net. What? I like his hair! Someone had to take Borja’s place!
Asensio though… He’s scored on each of his debuts! I think I love him!
After 1 minute of added time, the half came to end with Real Madrid 3 – 1 Legia Warsaw
Legia got the second half kicked off. Neither side made any changes at the half.
In the 50th minute, Malarz made an excellent save on a strike from Benzema. It was impressive.
In the 51st minute, Moulin picked up a yellow card for a harsh tackle on James.
Legia were starting to worry me a little. They were breaking dangerously, and I was watching Marcelo just watch them. In fact, I think my exact words to Cap (who couldn’t care less) were “Why the fuck is he watching them run?! Marcelo, you better fucking run! Stop fucking walking!”
We were getting lucky though. Legia were stopping their own attacks.
I have no reason to post this gif other than it’s Sassy James.
In the 62nd minute, Radovic picked up a yellow card for going in late on #ToniLive.
Cris was booked in the 63rd minute for a foul on Bereszynski.
In the 64th minute, I got my wish for more Vazquez when he replaced James. In the same minute, Morata came in for Bale. That was a very strange substitution for me but it ended up working out pretty well.
In the 68th minute, Vazquez scored a brilliant volley off a fabulous cross from Morata!
In the 74th minute, Legia made their first two substitutions when Kazaishvili and Nikolic came in for Guilherme and Radovic.
In the 80th minute, Asensio made way for a little Kovacic action as our final substitution. And in the 81st minute, Legia’s final sub was to fring in Kopczynski for Moulin.
In the 84th minute, after a frustrating miss by Cris, Morata placed the ball nicely into the goal with another excellent pass from Crispy.
After 3 minutes of added time, it was a game.
Real Madrid 5 – 1 Legia Warsaw
“We made the decision to play higher up, taking a few risks in defence”, added the coach.
Pleased with the victory over Legia Warszawa, Zinedine Zidane discussed his team’s performance in the post-match press conference: “We created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities and we got five goals. I’m happy with the attacking performance. Taking this approach, we are a bit more at risk at the back but it was the plan we chose. Sometimes decisions have to be made and Sunday will be a different game”.
“We can always improve. We took a few risks but the positive thing is that going forward we created a lot of chances. It’ll be another match on Sunday, another plan and other players. The important thing today was to win and everyone wants to see us score a lot of goals. We worked very well even if the defensive balance was slightly delicate today”.
“The system depends on the players. Today we made the decision to play higher up, in a more attacking way. We took risks and that allowed them to break on the counter attack. What I’m interested in, is that we get our own game going, create opportunities and play good football”.
“They all have to win their starting places, not just with what they do in the games, but also for how they work during the week. We have a lot of games to come and they’ll all get the chance to play. I’m happy with the front three and of course we can improve. What people want from Cristiano is for him to always score, but he created a lot of chances. He scored on Saturday and I hope that he scores again in four days’ time. I’m happy with how all of them performed”.
“You’ll see on Sunday whether he plays. The other day he had a very good game and I was happy with his performance. Today James and Asensio performed well and that’s all there is to it”.
Criticism after the draws
“That’s the way things go. We’re here to try and give our all in every game. We give everything to win each match. When we draw three games people are allowed to criticise us and that’s how it goes. It’s part of your job. We have to work hard throughout the week ahead of the games and then go out and perform well”.
“I didn’t say anything special to him. At times, we expect an awful lot from him. We expect him to be scoring three or four goals in games like this one. We all want him to score and he more so than anyone. Despite not scoring, he generated chances. What I’m interested in is that he laid on goals and provided assists. I really like it when he lays on goals for others. It’s true that we’ll always be looking for more from him because he’s Cristiano and he’s aware of that”.
Asensio: “The team did a good job and we were clinical with our finishing”“We wanted to score a few goals and we managed to do that”, stated Pepe.
Marco Asensio netted Real Madrid’s third goal against Legia and reflected on the Bernabéu rout in the following terms: “We’re happy with the win and the three points. I think that the team did a good job, we were clinical with our finishing, which saw us win emphatically. The only downside from tonight is that we didn’t manage to keep a clean sheet, but I’m sure that we’ll improve on that front as the games go by”.
“It’s something new to not be playing so much, given that I was used to always playing before. But I’m relaxed about it because we’ve got some world-class and more experienced players who are very important for the team. Zidane spoke to me and I’ve got to be patient, I’m young and I’ll make the most of the minutes that I get given”.
Ovation from the home faithful
“I’m very happy and grateful for the affection I’m receiving from the fans. They’re the ones that spur you on and they give you that extra drive in the games. I’m really happy with the welcome they’ve given me right from day one and I hope that all together we go on to achieve big things this year”.
Pepe: “The whole team has reason to celebrate”
“We played well, we were always in their half and had 50 metres of the pitch behind us. That was what the coach wanted and we tried to do that, whilst always respecting the opposition. We wanted to score a few goals and we managed to do that. The whole team has reason to celebrate”.
“We’ve got a lot of quality in the squad, both those who play from the start and those who come on as substitutes. We’ve got players who are very hungry and youngsters who are pushing their claims to play and that’s great for us”.
His situation at the club
“I’m calm and I just want to help the team, to help Real Madrid, the club I love. My chance will come and I’m waiting patiently. I hope the club give me a call and we can resolve the situation. The people at the club know that this is my home, I love Madrid very much and I’ll wait for as long as possible. My goal is to retire here”.
Marcelo: “We looked good towards the end”
“We’ve had two difficult games this week and we’ve managed to score goals and achieve our objective, which was to win. We’ve worked hard and we were able to play the game we wanted, we struggled at times but we looked good towards the end. We’ll have to improve on a few things but these matches have been good for us”.
Varane: “To have scored so many goals is good for our confidence”
“We’re happy with the win and to have scored so many goals. We’re in fine form. We put in a disciplined display in which we were always looking to go forward. To have scored so many goals is good for our confidence. We believe in ourselves and we’ll continue to work hard to pick up good results”.
“He’s fine and he always helps the team out. He’s a threat for the opposition. We’re doing well in the group stage and we’re confident. We have to go out and play every game as if it’s our last”.
Lucas Vázquez: “We’re in good form”
“It was important to win this game. We’re in good form and playing with a desire to keep moving forward. I’m pleased with the win and it was a good match, we had chances to score even more goals. I’m here to give the best I can and make the most of the opportunity whenever the coach calls on me”.
Post-Match Social Media:
Gareth was going full-on RoboCop for his recovery after the match.
Even with my hesitation in how Zizou set up the team, we managed to only concede one. I don’t think this lineup will work against better teams, but it worked here and we get lineups like the one against Betis for the tougher games, maybe.
I have to bow out for a bit. I have a lot of things going on right now and, as much as I really want to keep doing these posts, I have to bow out. I’m hoping to be back in 2 weeks, but I don’t actually know when the next time I’ll have internet access is. I will honestly miss the shit out of all of you while I’m away!
Our next match is Sunday against Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu. Then we have Deportiva Leonesa away (in Leon) on 26 October. Our next Champions League match will be the return fixture of Legia Warsaw on 2 November. That’ll be interesting….
¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!