There is a thing about La Liga that has reached unbearable levels especially in Derby games. That thing is play acting. Both sides were heavily relying on diving and faking injuries throughout the first half. Second half was a bit more, in a way, dignified for both as players got tired and may be let some blood flow into their brains rather than all into their muscles.
Benzema gave Real Madrid the perfect start when he scored from close range with 3 minutes on the clock. After the first goal I would have thought that Ancelotti would just sit back and put men behind the ball and hit Atletico Madrid on the break with the speed of Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Di Maria but no. May be he wanted to do a bit of reverse psychology with Atletico Madrid’s manager Simeone and thus pushed Real Madrid to play with a high line. That allowed Atletico Madrid back into the game.
Real Madrid looked out of sorts in the first half. May be the midweek game took its toll when it should not have considering that Real Madrid have great depth in their squad. For some peculiar reason Atletico Madrid tried to make Real Madrid players jump a lot throughout the match. May be it’s a new strategy to know if the opponents have heavy legs, I don’t know.
Real Madrid conceded twice in the first half. The first one was caused by nothing but lethargy on part of Real Madrid. DId not close Atletico Madrid quickly enough and hence gave them too much space. Di Maria looked particularly out of touch and gave away the ball too many times till Ancelotti took him half deep into the second half. Di Maria did provide the assist for Benzema’s goal and later on in the first half made a beckham long pass as well which Benzema hit straight into the keeper on the volley.
The second goal for Atletico Madrid was from like 35 yards out right on the 45 minute mark and may be, just may be Casillas will be returning to first team action very soon in the league. Goalkeepers should not be beaten from that far out and Diego Lopez knows it. He could have prevented both goals albeit with world class saves but that’s what you have to be if you want to play for Real Madrid.
To be honest I had given up all hope. Ronaldo and Bale were way too predictable and Atletico Madrid did not allow them any sight on goal. Till finally Ancelotti changed the two worst players on the field for Real Madrid. Coentrao and Arbeloa. After these two were gone, things changed dramatically for Real Madrid as Marcelo and Carvajal attack and defend way better than these two. Thus came the goal. Carvajal’s cross, Bale’s inadvertent pass to Ronaldo who struck it into the bottom on the net. 2-2 and that is how it remained till the end.
Barcelona won their game 4-1 so that leaves Real Madrid on 64, Barcelona on 63 and Atletico Madrid on 63. I had it wrong in a previous post that goal difference is used to distinguish between sides level on points in Spain. The rule has still not changed and in fact it is head to head record that separates teams level on points. Now Real Madrid cannot win the league by being level on points with Atletico Madrid. They have to be ahead all the time as Atletico Madrid have the edge on head to heads. Barcelona also enjoy favorable head to head this season against Real Madrid.