Legia Warsaw 3-3 Real Madrid: match report
Real Madrid were ahead inside a minute from a super Bale goal, and on top for almost the entire first half, with Benzema putting them two up after 34 minutes. But Madrid's lackadaisical approach, as well as a politically motivated line-up from Zidane to squeeze Morata in but not drop Benzema, saw them take their eyes off the prize and concede three without reply before Kovacic strode onto a Carvajal back-heel to salvage a point in the 85th minute. Lucas Vázquez hit the bar with the final kick of the match, but had it gone in it would have been harsh on Legia, who never gave up.
Zidane spoke earlier this season during the run of draws about Madrid struggling to get going at the start of matches, but there was none of that here, with Madrid doing plenty of running and passing after Bale's early goal, causing the Polish side no end of problems. What will worry Zidane no end is that at 2-0 up Madrid, and in particular the back line switched off. That said, how much responsibility the French coach should accept for playing a 4-2-4 that seriously unbalanced the team is very much up for debate.
Real Madrid invited Odjidja to run at them
In 40 minutes Odjidja was invited by the Real defence to stride towards the box and he gratefully accepted the opportunity, moving forward before picking his spot past Navas to give Legia hope at the break. And 12 minutes into the second half the Real Madrid back line once again let a Legia player run at them, this time Radovic, and his shot went under Navas (who should have done better) to nestle in the net and put the home side level.
Despite being well manned (read excessively manned), Real Madrid's forward line, while getting into dangerous positions, showed a lack of precision with the final touch and ball as the second half wore on (Ronaldo in particular looked rusty), and when the Madrid defence went to sleep again in the 82nd minute Legia punished them, with Prijovic (who had looked dangerous from the time he came on in the 76th minute) laying it back for Moulin to fire home off the post.
Real Madrid save a point
Real Madrid's blushes were spared with Kovacic's well taken goal (though they lost the lead of Group F to Dortmund), but Legia deserved their historic point, taking full advantage of Real Madrid's complacency.
Legia Warsaw 3-3 Real Madrid: second half
That's it! Full time! Real Madrid looked like they had that game in the bag, but ended up being forced to fight back for the draw. Legia, with no supporters behind them, never gave up.
91' | Lucas Vázquez crosses. Clear hand ball (outside the box). Ref fails to spot it but assistant alerts him. Dangerous free-kick. Goes to the back post, and out for a corner. Lucas Vázquez then hits the bar!
90' | THREE MINUTES added on.
89' | Disputed throw-in given to Real Madrid. "BOOOOO! BOOOO!" shouts someone.
88' | Ronaldo released down the left, he crosses, but there's nobody in the box. Portuguese striker is at the end of his tether with how tonight has gone, both personally and for the team.
87' | Guilherme corner swung in for Legia and it goes right through the six yard box without anyone getting a touch!
85' | Both sides going for the win now. Why not?!
84' | GOOOOOAAAAAL! Kovacic! Carvajal with a cute back-heel in a crowded box sets up Kovacic and he fires into the far bottom corner.
83' | Morata comes for Mariano Díaz.
82' | GOOOOOAAAAAL! Legia! Moulin fires home off the post. Real Madrid defence caught napping, ball played across to Prijovic at the top of the box, who laid it back for Moulin to hit one. His effort canoned off the post and in.
80' | Prijovic! Released through the inside right hand channel and he gets a shot off. This time though Navas stands firm and collects.
79' | Bale and Morata linking up down the left. Morata tries to beat two men. He doesn't.
78' | (Asensio has the glove/short sleeve combo. Why? Why?)
77' | Prijovic through one on one with Navas with his first move, but he's offside. And the keeper saved too.
76' | Legia change. Goal scorer Radovic comes off to be replaced by Prijovic. And Real Madrid do indeed go for Asensio for Coentrao. So a change of system for Zidane's men.
74' | Looks like Zidane about to make a change, probably Asensio for Coentrao.
72' | It's about two and a half Real Madrid attacks for every Legia move at the moment. And the Madrid ones look a bit more dangerous too.
71' | Radovic's turn to protest a not given penalty. He tussled with Nacho as they ran into the box, but referee unmoved.
69' | Ronaldo raging! Looked like he was somewhat pushed from behind by Rzezniczak as he went for a header. Madrid man got his head on it, but it flew over.
68' | Nikolic off and Kucharczyk on for Legia.
67' | Ronaldo forces Malarz into the save! Free-kick through a big gap in the wall, but keeper up to it.
66' | That is a foul. On Morata this time, but just outside the box. Ronaldo to take it this time.
65' | Great run from Kovacic and scooped ball to put Ronaldo in. He's sandwiched out between two defenders and some Madrid players thought that should have been a penalty. Not given.
64' | Ronaldo header (with Morata waiting behind him) goes swirling just past the post.
63' | Benzema's work here is done. He comes off to be replaced by Lucas Vázquez.
62' | Real Madrid take it down the other end, and nearly score as a Benzema stabbed effort hits a defender in the face and the ball takes Malarz by surprise and nearly sneaks in his near post.
61' | Legia force a corner. Taken short, Carvajal wins the ball back, it's played to Navas, who has a shocker of a clearance and Legia get possession again.
60' | Coentrao tries a hopeful long floaty cross into the middle. Malarz is never going to be troubled by that.
58' | Zidane does not look too chuffed.
57' | GOOOOOOAAAAL! RADOVIC! Strides into the box, hits a hopeful one and it goes RIGHT THROUGH Navas. 2-2! Madrid once again pay the price for letting a rival move up and have a shot unopposed.
55' | Benzema sent flying at the top of the box. Dangerous free-kick. Ronaldo to take... or maybe Bale. It's the Welshman. He goes for position over power, but puts it over nonetheless.
54' | Kovacic has a go from a distance, but his supporting foot slips as he hits it and the ball bobbles like a defective electric scooter to Malarz in the Legia goal. Kovacic glares angrily at the turf.
52' | Kroos and Guilherme have a wee tussle. The Brazilian ends up on the floor. Some mutually unfriendly words and then back on with the game.
52' | Asensio warming up. Coentrao has taken a knock too.
52' | Guilherme takes it and it curls JUST over at the far post. Fine strike.
50'| Neat move from Legia and Guilherme is knocked over by Coentrao. Very dangerous free-kick at the top of the box.
48' | Bale! So close to three! Controlled on his chest as he ran into the box and slammed the volley as the ball came down. Malarz saves, just.
47' | Kroos, great steal as Legia looked to break! And Real Madrid go forward again... all them so far this half (just two minutes, but still).
46' | Benzema sends a long one right over the box to Morata, who sends it back and Benzema is nearly there for the header, but a defender just nips in front of him and clears behind for a corner.
Peep! | Off we go!
Legia Warsaw 1-2 Real Madrid: half-time
Real Madrid were in front with less than a minute gone at the empty Polish Army stadium, when Gareth Bale swung his foot at a bouncing ball and sent a sublime effort curling into the top corner past Malarz in the Legia goal.
Real Madrid, playing with four up front, Benzema, Morata, Bale and Ronaldo, looked fluid going forward, with the newly contract-extended Welshman in particular doing plenty of troublesome running. Ronaldo, captain this evening, could regularly be heard shouting instructions to his teammates as the front line organised themselves to Zidane's new plan.
Legia were keen to attack when they could, but were forced in general to send long balls in from out wide for Nikolic to chase and the Real Madrid back-line looked comfortable, with Navas also coming out to tidy up as need be.
After 34 minutes Real Madrid got their deserved second, when Kovacic send a perfectly weighted ball to Bale charging into the box. He controlled expertly and laid off for Benzema to notch.
It looked at that point as if that would likely be the end of the interest, but Legia kept pushing forward and in the 40th minute Odjidja strode forward and with the Real Madrid defence watching him rather than challenging, he got to the edge of the box and cracked a fine effort past Navas to give Legia hope in the second half.
Legia Warsaw 1-2 Real Madrid: first half
45' | Carvajal rugby tackles Hlousek and this is a dangerous free-kick for Legia... sent into the box, but no home player can get a foot on it. PEEP! That's half-time!
44' | Long ball into space on the right and Ronaldo absolutely PEGS it to get to it. Stops it on the line, turns miles off the pitch and gets back to it before a defender can get there. His cross is too close to Malarz though and the keeper grabs happily. Impressive running from CR7 though.
43' | Real Madrid put their foot on the ball and settle things down, with Bale running around to pick up passes left, right and centre from his teammates.
41' | Nacho and Carvajal make a mess of things out on the right and gift the ball back to Legia, who head for goal, but the move breaks down. Worrying signs from the Madrid backline though after that goal.
40' | GOOOOALLLLLL! Legia! Great strike from Odjidja! Allowed to stride to the edge of the box, picks his spot and slams home. Real Madrid defence just watched him, but he took full advantage.
36' | Ronaldo shouting instructions at his teammates up front. He's definitely keen to get on the scoresheet (well, yes, when isn't he...) The Portuguese striker takes a high ball down on his chest and goes for a snap shot, but it's saved. He maybe had other options.
35' | With Real Madrid 2-0 up you can hear a pin drop in the Polish Army stadium.
34' | GOOOOOOAL! Benzema! Kovacic with a great ball to Bale cutting inside in the box, he lays off to Benzema who fires home neatly.
33' | Neat flowing move with about 15 touches from Real Madrid, but Morata's final ball across the box is to nobody.
32' | Nikolic just strays offside as he tests the Real Madrid backline. Nice ball to him as well.
31' | Benzema spots a Bale run into the box and nearly finds him. Nice vision from the French attacker.
30' | Silky skills from Bale to control and beat his man. He then unleashes another howitzer from the edge of the box, but this one is just over the bar. Ooooo!, say the 14 Real Madrid fans.
29' | Zidane applauding his front line (BBCM) as they drop back to pressure.
28' | Carvajal sends a nice long ball to the back post, Ronaldo leaps... but he's got a defender in front of him and he can't control it. Cue Ronaldo frustrated face and thigh slap.
26' | Legia break down the right! Guilherme gets a shot away, but it's just slightly closer to the corner flag than the goal.
24' | How did that not go in?! All four Madrid strikers plus a few others have a hack at the ball on line after a corner, but somehow Malarz, a flailing defensive leg or two and a good dose of luck keep the ball out.
23' | Benzema appears to be more fixed in the centre with Morata like a lively electron orbiting around him.
22' | Navas reads another diagonal ball to the penalty spot well and comes out to claim. #safe
21' | Hlousek on the left has had some rather neat touches for Legia. Doesn't always link up with Guilherme in front of him though.
19'| Big shout for a Legia penalty, turned down. The Legia bench can be heard vociferously disagreeing.
18' | Morata tries to run through a bit selfishly as Madrid get a good break, he's tackled and the ball falls to Benzema who has a dig which produces a fine save from Malarz!
16' | Saved on the line! Varane so close with a header from the corner.
15' | Bale thrashes the ball into the wall. It flies over and out for a corner.
15' | Play stopped as keeper Malarz gets some medical attention for a grumbly knee.
14' | Bale wins a free-kick in a dangerous spot! He's a handful tonight the big Welshman.
12' | Ronaldo with a cheeky look-one-way-send-the-ball-the-other pass into a dangerous position, with the only problem that Bale had no idea he was about to do it and was 20 yards away when the pass came.
10' | Ronaldo robbed in the box, he goes down but was never going to get anything. Legia push forward on the break when they turn the ball over.
9' | Moulin! Has an effort from just outside the box, that Navas watches warily as it zips past his right hand post.
7' | Legia string together a couple of passes and mount an attack, but Navas out well to smother the through ball.
5' | Bale of the four attackers appears to be the one told to drop back and do some defensive duties when it's called for.
3' | All Real Madrid at the moment. Ronaldo cuts inside from the right and has an effort, but the less said about it the better. He shanks it well wide.
1' | BAAAAAALEEE! GOLAZO! Bale's hit an absolute beast into the top corner. What a shame there was no crowd to witness that. Long cross-field ball bounced and Bale hit it first time from just below waist height with a sublime curve that sent the ball hurtling into the top corner past a despairing Malarz. Anything Nacho can do, eh.
Kick off! | Off we go! That was a loud blast from Kralovec.
1' to go | Real Madrid to kick off.
2' to go | "Vamos!" shouts someone as the anthem finishes. The teams are now lining up for their team photos. Ronaldo captain tonight for Real Madrid is up for the coin toss.
3' to go | You can hear the anthem perfectly! THE CHAMPIONS!! rings out around the empty Polish Army stadium... Not a bad speaker set up they've got there...
Legia Warsaw - Real Madrid: confirmed line-ups
Legia XI: Malarz; Bereszynski, Pazdan, Rzezniczak, Hlousek; Moulin, Kopczynski; Radovic, Ofoe, Guilherme; Nikolic.
Real Madrid XI: Navas; Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Coentrao; Kroos, Kovacic; Bale, Cristiano, Benzema, Morata.
Legia Warsaw - Real Madrid: latest news
20:40 | The teams are in the tunnel. The journos are in their media coverage perches and er... that's about it. There are a few Real Madrid fans though, who the club brought as a courtesy. So the occasional Real Madrid song rings out around the Polish Army stadium. All very surreal.
20:35 | Tonight sees Zinedine Zidane take charge of his 100th match as a Real Madrid coach. 57 in charge of Real Madrid Castilla and this will be his 43rd with the full team.
20:32 | Coldish night in Warsaw, five degrees and falling. No rain though. A lot of the Real Madrid players have got their hats on. There will likely be gloves on display during the match.
20:31 | Álvaro Morata is out warming up. He looks very pleased about things.
20:26 | Group F is topped by Dortmund and Real Madrid, both on seven points, with Sporting Lisbon with three points and current whipping boys Legia yet to break their duck. If Real Madrid and Dortmund both win tonight then they both go through, and the last two games will be all about jostling for top spot.
20:20 | No crowd in tonight (though there will be 275 travelling with Real Madrid) due to some of the Legia supporters behaving atrociously in their opening Group F match against Dortmund. That does mean though that we get to hear a lot of the chat from the players on the pitch. "To me! To me!", "I was in space!" etc, etc and possibly ruder things too. We'll be covering the best shouts from the Polish Army stadium.
20:09 | Emilio Butragueño chatting to beIN on the pitch of the Polish Army Stadium. The Real Madrid directora agrees it's as an attack-minded line-up as Real Madrid have put out in a long while. "Let's hope it works", he laughs, a little nervously to be honest.
19:55 | Just looking at that very attack-minded Real Madrid line-up - an untried, untested one it has to be said, and wondering whether the four forwards might be tripping over themselves going forward? It suggests that both Bale and Cristiano will need to drop back and give Kroos and Kovacic a hand when needed, and also obliges both wingers to stay wide. It'll be interesting to see how effective it is.
19:25 | Cristiano Ronaldo goes into tonight's game on 98 goals in European competition, and after his hat-trick heroics at the weekend you wouldn't bet against him continuing his return to top scoring form by completing his century in Poland. Speaking of landmark Ronaldo goals, this week sees the 13th anniversary of another.
19:15 | Real have played two previous European Cup games behind closed doors - and have fared none too badly, beating Roma in an empty Stadio Olimpico in 2004/05 and defeating Napoli at a spectator-less Bernabéu in 1987/88. "Somewhat surreal" is AS editor Alfredo Relaño's take on such occasions...
19:07 | Legia-Real Madrid may be behind closed doors this evening, but the stands of the Polish Army Stadium won't be completely empty. The full story is here.
18: 20 | Real are without crocked centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe, and reports say on-loan youngster Jesús Vallejo may be brought back from Eintracht Frankfurt early to increase Zidane's alternatives at the back. More on that here.
18:15 | Two and a half hours to kick-off in Poland: have you perused today's bitesize Real Madrid round-up? Go on, go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on. Etc, etc, etc.
18:01 | 'Zizou' is set to go with Nacho Fernández in central defence in Warsaw - here's what Real Madrid's scissor-kicking Mr Never Lets You Down had to say on the eve of the match.
17:54 | Tonight's match is a landmark game for Real Madrid's head coach...
16:51 | It's not the first time Real have been involved in a match behind closed doors, of course. Indeed, the last time they played under such circumstances, this famous photo was taken.
16: 12 | What's that you say? You're in need of a helpful guide to the hows, whens and wheres of watching this evening's clash? Well, you're in luck.
15:15 | FIFA have just announced the shortlist for The Best coach of 2016 award. Real Madrid coach Zidane's on the list.
13:10 | Polish football has a real problem with disorderly ultra groups. These ugly scenes were witnessed at a Ekstraklasa game last weekend in Gdynia.
11:50 | Concern growing in the Polish capital that 3,000 Legia ultras plan to follow the game from outside the stadium. 1,000 police officers have been drafted to handle any possible altercation.
Legia Warsaw - Real Madrid: possible starting XI
Legia: Malarz, Hlousek, Rzezniczak, Czerwinski, Bereszyniski, Jodlowiec, Moulin, Guilherme, Radovic, Langil, Nikolic.
Real Madrid: Navas, Danilo, Pepe, Varane, Carvajal, Kroos, Asensio, Kovacic, Bale, Benzema, Cristiano.
Legia - Real Madrid: match preview
Real Madrid travel to the Polish capital with the holders anxious to secure the maximum points that would see Zidane's men push closer to the round of 16 in the 2016/17 competition. A surreal atmosphere guaranteed at the Polish Army Stadium with a UEFA ban forcing Legia to play tonight's match behind closed doors.
The Ekstraklasa champions are aware that their survival in European competition hangs by a very fine thread. Defeat at home tonight would almost certainly extinguish any hopes the Polish side would have of even securing a place in the Europa League which is the current objective.
Currently pointless in Group F, the Polish side have bounced back after an abysmal start to the domestic season that saw them sail perilously close to the relegation zone of the Polish top flight. The poor start saw Besnik Hasi shown the door on September 19 with Jacek Magiera drafted in as his coaching replacement.
The former Legia player has been instrumental in addressing the slip and the club from the capital have started to climb the Ekstraklasa currently sitting in sixth position.
The Poles will look to Serbian veteran Radovic who scored the goal at the Bernabeu and the creativity of Brazilian Guilherme to trouble the Real Madrid rear-guard and will also hope that Dortmund can do them a favor in seeing off Sporting (in tonight's other group match), who are Legia's direct rivals in seeking the third place in Group F.
Game no. 100 for Zinedine Zidane tonight in his capacity as Real Madrid club coach (combined RM Castilla and Madrid first team games) is set to be played in a bizarre atmosphere with no spectators permitted in the 40.000 Polish Army stadium due to the UEFA ban on Legia.
Madrid come into the game following an excellent series of results (scoring 24 goals in their past five games) but question marks still hang over the team's style of play with some of the recent scorelines (away to Alaves and home vs. Athletic) somewhat deceptive and a feeling that Zidane's team have only been truly convincing on only a handful of occasions this campaign.
Marcelo and James Rodriguez haven't made the trip to Poland with the Madrid expedition and it appears that the French coach is set to opt for a rear-guard of Carvajal, Varane, Nacho and Danilo or even Coetrao at left back. With Luka Modric and Casemiro still absent, Kovacic and Asensio will play alongside Toni Kroos in the centre of the park. It's anticipated that the French coach opts for Alvaro Morata insetead of his compatriot Karim Benzema in the Madrid forward line to accompany Gareth Bale and Cristiano.