Real Madrid is on the top of the table in La Liga (Spanish league). A 1-0 win over Athletic Club, in their December 1, 2021 encounter, extended their lead by seven points from the table’s second place holder Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid is one of the best teams in Europe, it was expected that they would easily capitalise over the Athletic club team especially when the match was in Bernabeu (the home ground of Real Madrid). But on Wednesday it was really hard for Real Madrid to clinch three points against the visitors.
French footballer Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the match. In the 40th minute, Marcos Ascensio hit the shot on the goal. The shot was saved by the Athletic club goalkeeper Unai Simon. But the Athletic keeper only parried it to Luka Modric who miskicked the rebound. The ball landed perfectly for the Frenchman who calmly put it into the net by a tap-in shot. There was no way that Modric meant that assist but the Croatian will surely take the credit. It worked out perfectly for Benzema in the end as Simon dived the wrong way to stop the ball and got trapped in Real Madrid’s attack. These were the only few minutes when Real Madrid dominated over a number eight team in the league table.
The second half of the match was really tough for Real Madrid. Athletic increased their forages into the Madrid penalty area in the final minutes but could not succeed. Inaki Williams had the best chances from the Athletic side but he wasted most of them. While his other forward teammates Raul Garcia and Oihan Sancet drew some excellent saves from the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. It was the Courtois performance that made all the difference between the two teams. His clinical saves throughout the match got him a 7.3 rating from top footballing sites.
After this neck-to-neck fight between the league topper and a number eight team in the table, Real Madrid needs to consider their formation. Real’s manager Carlo Ancelloti has to rethink the role of Toni Kroos. While on the other hand Athletic club needs to bring a change in their attacking game. Inaki, Garcia, and Sancet missed more than they scored in this whole season till now.
The manager of Real Madrid Carlos Ancelotti in the post-match press conference said, “We played against a good and intense team that hadn’t lost away from home yet. Plus, they’d had two days more rest. If you don’t take your chances in the first half, when we were good, then you can end up suffering as we did.” On speaking about Courtois he said, “Courtois is doing extraordinary things. We need to improve defensively, especially at set-pieces, but we have this great player and we’re enjoying him.”