In Spanish football, there are 2 matches this week involving the teams that are going to participate in the incoming Spanish SuperCup in January. These teams are Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, and Real Sociedad. The first match was yesterday and later today Barcelona is going to play against Real Sociedad.
Real Madrid has been playing very well for the past 2 weeks. The last 4 matches have been very demanding and they have won them all. Yesterday's match against Bilbao was tricky because the team has a lot of accumulated fatigue after so many matches every 3 days and Zidane hasn't been rotating the squad given the bad result he gets when including certain players that are out of shape.
Players like Mendy, Varane, and the veteran midfielders Modric and Kross have been playing a lot without much rest, so this increases the chances of suffering a bad game due to fatigue. However, Real Madrid's players seem to be in spectacular shape. They have been providing excellent performance and they have been imposing themselves in every match for the past 2 weeks. Yesterday there were 2 key events in the match, the first was the red card to Raul Garcia, a hardcore player from Bilbao. This red card happened around the 15-minute mark and left Bilbao with just 10 players.
Bilbao isn't an easy team, they have a lot of courage and tend to play very rough in order to impose themselves using their physical strength. This red card completely changed their circumstances and allowed Real Madrid to feel a bit more confident regarding their chances of winning the match. Despite playing against 10 rivals, Real Madrid was only able to score the first goal at the end of the first half. It was a great shot from Kross from outside the penalty box after a pass from Vinicius. The goal was good, but it proved that playing with 1 extra player doesn't mean the match is going to be easy.
Then, in the second half, Sergio Ramos made it clear he isn't in his top shape. He did a mistake when trying to defend against an attack from Bilbao, and allowed the rival player to outrun him and place himself in front of Courtouis. It ended in a goal and the main responsible for it was Ramos. He was recently injured so perhaps this is why he is not playing as well as he usually does. This goal happened at the beginning of the second half so there was still a lot of time for Madrid to score the second goal and win the match.
Bilbao's courage to tie a match despite the fact they were playing with 10 men is also worth mentioning. Not every team would be able to achieve such a feat. However, as the minutes kept advancing, Real Madrid was finding more and more open spaces but it wasn't until the 74-minute mark when Carvajal made a great cross followed by a good header from Benzema that Real Madrid was finally able to break the tie. Real Madrid deserved the victory but it was hard for them.
Towards the end of the match Bilbao almost tie the match after finding an empty space in a zone where Ramos should have been defending, Courtois luckily stopped the shot, and seconds later Benzema scored Madrid's third goal. Benzema has been playing very well in these last few matches, he also scored 2 goals in the last Champions League match and he seems to be going through a period of high performance. Most of Madrid's team played good, the only weak points would be Vinicius despite his assist in the first goal, and Ramos due to his mistakes in the defense. It was nice to see Valverde back and playing a lot of minutes and I hope Odegaard can return soon as well.
Regarding today's matches, I am not sure which one I am going to see, there is Barcelona vs Real Sociedad which is an awesome match, but in British football, there is Liverpool vs Tottenham, which is also a match between Kloop and Mourinho, 2 awesome coaches. These 2 matches are at the same time so I will have to decide. Hard choice...