This week certainly was the best one for Real Madrid in the entire season. They had 3 extremely important matches, one in the Spanish league against Sevilla last Saturday, one in the Champions League against Mönchengladbach, and today's match in the Spanish league against Atletico Madrid, and they won all of them.
The Champions League match was important because Real Madrid had the risk of getting kicked out of the competition in the group stage, which is something that has never happened to them. In the end, they won the match and qualified for the round of 16 in the first position. In the national league, Atletico Madrid has been the best team so far in this league, they are solidly in the first position and clearly deserve to be there, for now. This match was a good test for both teams and to see if there was someone capable of competing with Atletico.
Real Madrid was the better team in the match from start to finish. They completed dominated every aspect of the game. The possession, the number of shots, and the danger caused to the rival goalkeeper were all aspects with Real Madrid as the dominant team. Mendy was the boss as always in Madrid's left side of the pitch, he is probably the best left-back in football nowadays. He had Llorente completely under his control and Atletico was incapable of creating danger in Mendy's side.
I was surprised to see Real Madrid's classic midfielders since 2015, Modric, Kross, and Casemiro, having a superior match against Atletico. I was honestly expecting Atletico's players to overwhelm Madrid's players with a superior pace and speed, but this never happened. Madrid controlled not only the ball, but they felt fresher and much more creative when elaborating new plays.
Vinicius didn't have a good match as the left-wing but that didn't prevent other Madrid's players from imposing themselves in their respective zones. Vazquez played the majority of the match as the right-wing, which is his natural position, and he did a great job at that. Later on, when Zidane made some substitutions to include Asensio and Rodrygo, he changed his position to the right-back, and again, he continued to play very well.
Atletico's defense wasn't as solid as it usually is. The first goal, for example, came after a defensive error when defending a corner kick. Casemiro was able to do a good header without any defensive player near him. This happened because the player that was supposed to prevent Casemiro from doing the header, slipped on his own and was on the ground. There were other defensive errors from Atletico that didn't end in goals but they certainly caused a lot of nervousness to their defensive players and goalkeepers. This team usually has an excellent defense but this wasn't the case today.
Real Madrid's second goal happened when Carvajal received the ball just outside the penalty box after a free-kick, he had a lot of free space since most of Atletico's players were inside the box and he did a very powerful shot that hit the post, then the goalkeeper's back and then it went in. It was back luck for the goalkeeper but this type of goal tends to happen from time to time. There is also a lot of merit to Carvajal and his great shot.
I think Real Madrid played with more confidence because the first goal happened at the 15-minute mark. Real Madrid was already playing better than Atletico in those first few minutes but finding themselves with that sudden goal was of huge emotional help. Then, at the 18-minute mark of the second half, Real Madrid scores their second goal and this pretty much sealed the deal.
Since the beginning of the second half, it was clear Atletico was very nervous, Simeone did 3 substitutions and they received 2 yellow cards in those first few minutes of the second half. What's even worse, a few minutes before Madrid's second goal, Simeone decided to remove Joao Felix from the pitch and his reaction proved he was very frustrated and unhappy with that decision.
Atletico did cause a little bit of danger to Madrid's goalkeeper but his only important save was after a great header from Saul. I was honestly expecting more from Atletico in both defense and attack but it is also true that Madrid's players were able to impose themselves and neutralize Atletico's potential.
This is an extremely important victory for Real Madrid and Valverde returned from his injury and was able to play for around 8 minutes in the end, which is also great news for the team. Atletico Madrid is still in the first position but this match proves they can also be a vulnerable team. Real Madrid currently has 3 points less than Atletico but with 1 extra match so this difference might end up being 6 points. I think that with time Atletico's performance should decrease by a little bit and Real Madrid's performance should increase so the coming weeks are certainly going to be exciting.