La Liga

Atletico End Madrid’s Winning Run

For the third time in the 2023-24 season, Real Madrid failed to beat noisy neighbors Atletico Madrid on Spanish soil, settling for a 1-1 draw in their La Liga Matchday 23 meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday night (February 4). The draw brought Madrid’s six-game winning run to a screeching halt in La Liga, but it did not cost them their place at the summit, courtesy of Girona’s goalless draw with Real Sociedad earlier on Sunday.

Real Madrid Dominate First Half With Brahim Diaz Running The Show

Los Merengues started brightly, forcing Atletico to defend with 10 men for the opening quarter. Jude Bellingham barged into the box just three minutes into the game and pulled the trigger after getting the better of a couple of Atletico defenders. Stefan Savic, however, was alert to the danger and blocked his shot. The following minute, Brahim Diaz dispatched a left-footed effort toward the bottom-left corner. The Spaniard’s shot had zing, but not enough to beat Los Rojiblancos’ world-class goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Diaz got his goal in the 20th minute, courtesy of his guile and composure. Diaz latched on to Lucas Vazquez’s deflected pass into the box, skipped past challenges, and applied a cool finish to take the ball beyond Oblak. In the 27th minute, Rodrygo had a go after charging into the box from the inside-right channel. The shot was good, but the angle was too tight for the Brazilian.

Diaz, who got into the first team after Vinicius Jr. picked up a neck injury in training, emerged as the standout performer in the first half. His passing was sharp, he combined flawlessly with teammates, and dashed into the box every chance he got. Simeone’s men had no idea how to contain him.

Lack Of Physicality Cost Whites Two Points Against Atletico Madrid

With Aurelien Tchouameni suspended and top three center-backs David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Antonio Rudiger injured, Ancelotti had to opt for a make-shift back four against Atletico Madrid. He deployed Ferland Mendy on the left, Lucas Vazquez on the right, and an unusual center-back pairing of Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez. Although Carvajal and Nacho did well on the ground, they were helpless against Atletico in aerial duels. Initially, it did not matter much, but as the game wore on, Diego Simeone’s side made it a point to disrupt the hosts with lobbed deliveries and pin-point set-pieces.

Just a couple of minutes into the second half, Savic hit the back of the net from an Antoine Griezmann corner. Carvajal and Nacho were in the vicinity, but they had no answer for his physicality. Luckily for the hosts, VAR dismissed the goal for offside, as Saul was found obstructing Andriy Lunin’s line of sight.

Throughout the second half, Atletico continued to float balls into the box, hoping for one of them to go through. It ultimately did in the third minute of stoppage time, as former Real Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente comfortably slid between Carvajal and Nacho to head Memphis Depay’s hopeful nod into the back of the net.

Madrid will return to action with a top-of-the-table clash with Girona on Saturday (February 10), and Ancelotti will hope Rudiger recovers in time to partner Nacho in defense.



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