I was up near the 2000 or so Atletico away fans for this match, which was a real treat to watch. Too bad there were some issues over TV rights which deprived many of seeing it live because it was, from a neutral’s perspective, the best match of the round I’m sure.
Real Madrid looked very bright at times and had the better of the game overall, hitting the woodwork twice, and with Robinho (twice) and Diarra leaving great chances unfinished. But Atletico also had its chances, and the game was generally open and flowing.
Raul will get a lot of credit, he scored a nice goal and worked hard, though I don’t think he should have stayed on all 90′. Saviola eventually came on, but to replace RVN, who while winning a lot of balls in the air and looking better than last week, is still a bit shy of 100%. Saviola looked sharp and quick when he was on.
Guti helped with the transition from defense to attack but aside from the free kicks, was a bit quiet throughout. Pepe will always have that 30m Euros price tag attached but he looked fairly solid, cutting off some attacks nicely. The main problems for Real Madrid came from Atletico taking advantage of the forward runs our fullbacks made. Drenthe in particular was guilty of losing his position. He is fast, strong, and has a good amount of skill, but you can see he is tactically green and will have to improve this aspect.
Sneijder, what can I say. I think we have a real jewel here. Vision, movement, pinpoint long passes and creative short passes, good going forward or with his back to goal, gets into the tackle, quick and able to beat his marker, amazing deliveries on set pieces and a great shot in both feet.
Metzelder looked very solid coming on in the 2nd half for an injured Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos gave his typically great display of hard work combined with skill, although he was caught out a couple times by Simao, and Diarra put in a decent display in the center. His passing still leaves a bit to be desired. He’s no Redondo, after all.
Casillas again came up with the big saves when needed. I wish someone who do an exhaustive study to see how many points this guy has saved for us over the years.
Atletico looked good, Simao and Aguero very dangerous. I do not understand why Aguirre replaced Simao. Forlan was well controlled by Pepe and this was a big reason why Atletico were unable to score more. Aguero dived a lot, but he has a lot of skill, compared to some of the big names he is one of the more under-rated players in La Liga but he won’t be for long.
Where Atletico were really soft was in he center of defense. Pablo was so slow and poorly positioned that sometimes it seemed as if Perea was the only centerhalf. Sooner or later Madrid would score.
Very good sensations from Madrid, considering we had 3 new players in the starting 11 and another 2 who made their league debuts for us. Higuain, Robben, Heinze and Torres all missed the match and Baptista was unable to come on because we used a sub for Cannavaro’s injury. Also it should be mentioned that the squad is very young, with 16 players (Torres, Gago, Diarra, Higuain, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Casillas, Drenthe, Marcelo, Baptista, Sneijder, Robben, Robinho, Soldado, Saviola, Metzelder) 26 years old and under.
The feeling is that Madrid should still be able to improve a lot more as the team gels, especially once Robben gets going, and we have a very strong bench, one of the best in Europe. If things click we could put up strong challenges both in Spain and Europe this season.