The Weekly Summary

An unbelievable return to New Jersey for a Real Madrid in need of a breather. The last game of the North American pre-season tour unveiled more against a rojiblanco train that finished in a catastrophical 3-7 loss. Led by a fine tuned Diego Costa, the night became a humiliation early on with a fantastic poker by the Spanish-Brazilian. A night to forget, but no less reflect. Despite many of us expecting some changes in the line-up and strategy, and even becoming hopeful with the lad’s performance against Arsenal last week, our defensive flaws, lack of rhythm, and tactical challenges landed us one of our worst scoresheets in years.


Seven goals conceded confirmed the state of emergency in this last line. A red card and a penalty came as result of consistent individual problems. And these problems are reflected in the most adverse situations, such as the one at MetLife New Jersey this past Friday.A young 19-year named Joao Felix did as he pleased from the first minute. Briefly after Lemar won the ball at the half line, and the Portuguese international teen assisted to Costa’s first goal straight away. Just seven minutes later, it would be Saul who rushed entering through the right, once again after gaining possession of the ball from Madrid’s defense and getting it into the penalty spot and finding Felix, who popped over Marcelo’s shoulder and tapped it into the back of the net for the opening 0-2. Courtois could not help but to observe Joao’s first goal as an Atletico player.


Several efforts followed from los albos, trying to create triangles and getting the ball to Hazard or Vinicius, but the lines were pushed back and the colchoneros still dominated and regained possession quickly.But the nightmare was just starting. It was in the 18th minute when Atletico Madrid caught a rebound by Ramos, through Koke’s short assist to Correa, who then placed a crossed ball into their 0-3 lead.Next was only ten minutes later, here with Ramos who foolishly attempted to cross the ball into the middle for Modric, but an easy win for Saul who so easily run straight towards the 18 and passes it to Diego Costa whom would beautifully finish agaisnt a frozen Thibaut, again. This Ramos’ chip attempt was an embarrassing one. There was nothing Modric could do there. And there was Zinedine Zidane watching a fourth consecutive goal like nothing anyone has seen before in a Madrid derby.


The merengues had to then lament Jovic’s forced substitution, to make things even worse. The Serbian left injured before the end of the first half. A disappointing, confirmed ankle injury shauned Zizou’s hopes in strengthening the offense. Benzema, still as  first choice, made little impact offensively, so the remaining time was all for the rojiblancos.At this point, what the team needed was an absolute redirection, and several substitutions. The closest chances were created by both Vinicius and Marcelo with a few shots, but the team still failed to control back and keep the ball away from the rojiblancos.


It was at the 43′ when Joao Felix dribbled into the box with a slight cut over Nacho, whom stumbling and eventually falling on himself, allowed a near finish by the former Benfica teen, making the crowd go crazy about a magnificent display of skill. But even before one could even talk about it, in the same play, a very fast ball got back inside and it got to Diego Costa, who controlled towards Isco’s leg, as an attempt to stop him, which caused a predictable penalty for Atletico. Costa kicked right in the middle, and beating Courtois, and there was the 0-5 along with Costa’s hat-trick.


For the second period, Zidane’s choice of substitutions were: Dani Carvajal for Alvaro Odriozola; Lucas Vazquez for Vinicius Junior; Keylor Navas for Thibaut Courtois.Now, the second half saw a more interesting match. More balanced in the attempts and in goals. The substitutions contributed, except for Carvajal who became seemingly frustrated and would eventually earn a red in a heated encounter with Costa.The first goal of the second period was Atletico Madrid’s, thanks to Joao Felix yet again who showed every one attending why he’s worth the $130M paid for his fee earlier this month. It only took one precise pass to Diego Costa in the 51st minute, whom without needing to even control very much, and inside the area already, had to simply chip the balk to beat Navas. The scoresheet was 0-6 now.


The desperation was noticeable in the whites, but Madrid managed to put one in a genius entrance through the left side by Hazard,  making it easy for Nacho to push it indie the net. Nevertheless, a Costa-Carvajal fight got them both sent off right after, so the míster made modifications, having amready made substitutions just minutes earlier. The substitutions were: Adrian De La Fuente for Eden Hazard; Javier Hernandez for Sergio Ramos; Gareth Bale for Marcelo; Rodrygo for Isco; Takefusa Kubo for Luka Modric.As far the defense, and in a 6-1, Marcelo had been the most efficient player of Los blancos until his substitution. His contribution was mainly his creation, overall attack, and a very dynamic distribution of the ball through the line.


Soon after Vitolo made an outstanding effort eyeing an opportunity for an individual run, and then passing Real Madrid’s defense all the way into almost the 11 mark, and firing an astonishing 7-1. The solo goal was just another one of many already. Keylor Navas was not to be blamed in most of these, as it almost seemed as if the Atletico players were at training.The Costarrican would yet save the night from being more tormenting for the azucenas. But a 1-7 enters a different approach for a game.


Later, the 84th minute saw a breakthrough by Nacho, who cunningly took the left side and pivoted the ball into the middle Atleti’s players. Herrera would then encounter a speedy Nacho who dropped immediately to the ground in sign of complain.  A penalty was granted and Real Madrid scored its 2nd goal with a very good take by Benzema. Just 5 minutes later, De La Fuente with a clean header that hit the post first and went in, maybe with a push by Hernandez, made a third one.


Things appeared to be less damaging with a 3-7. The score not just shows a 4 goal difference, but the fact that Atletico Madrid scored 7 goals in a derby. Regardless of whether this is a friendly, or the Champions Cup, who wants to lose like this to anyone? Especially a derby.Losing in the way that Zidane’s team did was unexpected. Regardless of the rotations in the line-up, this is and will be the squad which will play LaLiga, Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League.


Ever-optimistic Zidane kept a straight and peaceful face, some wonder what is really being said off-pitch in the dressing room. But Tuesday night, back in the Allianz Arena, another exam took place, and against Pochetino’s Tottenham Hotspur.


The Audi Cup put the lads back in the timezone needed by the team. Having concluded that the fitness and rythym had a main role in the performance so far. This time the team started feeling fearful. The eleven chosen for the clash against the spurs were Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Rodrygo, Benzema, Eden Hazard.


The match developed equally for both teams. Although the highlight in Los blancos side was Keylor Navas. Dembele’s and Eriksen’s were absolutely well placed and in turn saved by the white goal keeper. The first half was mostly for Tottenham.It only took a failed attempt to save a ball to Marcelo to gift Harry Kane the ball to be almost alone with the tico keeper, whom with a soft chip put it in like the best in the world do. One day Ramos; another Marcelo.Others remained incognito, such as Benzema with the exception of a couple of attempts, Ramos, and Hazard. Moreover, it’s no surprise that Kubo, who is continuously working his game, both in training and game day. The London squad put in the substitute team at halftime, but the 10+ minutes that Takefusa Kubo played Tuesday night tells Zizou he isn’t always a substitute, even less a fully learner at Castilla.


Overall, the attitude was a different one. The organization was allowed to be, and although the match didn’t present an intense challenge as the Atletico one, players like Kroos and Carvajal had a more than acceptable performance.


Just tonight Real Madrid had a more comprehensive 90 minutes. A much overdue victory indeed, and the first one so far since coming back from last season. The win provided to all of the team with more peace and rest, allowing the coach to find the system he so desperately needs.Karim Benzema bagged a hat-trick and demonstrated against why he is Vinicius’ mentor, and one of los blancos’ leader.The first half brought another early goal conceded. Rodrigues entered like into his own house, passing slight defensive efforts by Odriozola and Kroos, he took the shot and made it 0-1.In the 12th minute, Benzema was lucky to catch a weak but precise pass from Vinicius at the right side of the Turkish area. Such smooth control and ball placing into the goal.Marcelo and Ramos appeared to be more focused and quick to respond. Nevertheless, in several occassions when the last line got broken by Fenerbahce, it seemed as if the defense couldn’t handle any sort of counterattack. Tonight’s green jerseys chased after the ball with no one-to-one markings or releases.


Last night was Keylor Navas’ night. The Costarrican  was the key player in Real Madrid’s defense. Two of Fenerbahce’s rockets were allowed before Benzema’s goal, which the Tico managed to deflect and save the night early on.


But it won’t be until minute 27 that the ‘s efforts and persistence made it 2-1 for Madrid. A clean header thanks to Kross’ perfect free-kick cross.Truly, Benzema appeared to be going back to being the striker from last season. This is exciting news for the whites, especially for Florentino, whose player favoritism is no secret.


Again Fenerbachce stroke in the 34th through Dirar with an unfortunate deflected volley over Navas.Several substitutions were made at the second half with a 2-2 tie. Andriy Lunin for Keylor Navas; Adrian De La Fuente for Raphael Varane; Lucas Vazquez for Eden Hazard.Lucas was actually able to create Benzema’s hat-trick. Vazquez put a fine cross into a lonely Karim Benzema,  for the 2-3 at the 53rd minute in the second half. Also, only 6 minutes later, Tifan connected a screamer without a challenge into the corner to make it 3-3. An unlucky one for them.Then more subs came: Miguel Gutierrez for Marcelo; Dani Carvajal for Alvaro Odriozola; Mariano Diaz for Karim Benzema; Rodrygo for Vinocius Junior.


Mariano took a powerful shot which rebounded in front of the Turkish goalkeeper. Nacho did the job of getting to it first and scored the yet again leading goal for Madrid in the 62nd. 4-3 now.


Now Zizou chose more men to go in at the 73rd minute surprisingly. Takefusa Kubo for Federico Valverde; Luka Modric for Isco; Jaime Seoane for Toni Kroos.


Just 10 minutes till the end, a fresh but asserted Mariano managed to also reached the ball before Fenerbahce’s goalkeeper, netting his first pre-season goal, and celebrating accordingly.A win is a win. Zizou did what he needed, along with no less than 10 substitutions.


The aftermath favors Madrid, but there were certainly serious problems that still dragged from the game against Atletico. Especially in the second goal when the entire defense froze and allowed an open run into the the azucenas danger zone.


On the other hand, the show given by Kubo once again gives plenty to talk about. Valverde also held the standard just right for a defensive mid too.
As far as those who leave much to be desired, not much changed. Hazard continues to show signs of unfitness. Vinicius Junior had an off night with his aiming, and some dare to question his commitment.The win draws the good to the spotlight, and during perilous times for certain players like Gareth Bale himself, it can still be relieving.There is now the incorporation of James Rodriguez which can put more into Zinedine’s head, especially given Asensio’s terrible injury news.


The lads leave with a boosted morale and with enough time left of this pre-season to continue to work, as it is imperative that the team becomes ready for what is just a couple of weeks ahead.

@albocaj

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