Vinicius, Mendy and Benzema's pefect goal
Their defeat in the Madrid derby now leaves Atlético thirteen points behind Real Madrid, effectively eliminating them from the title race. And at this point, it can even be said that they will have a struggle on their hands to secure a top-four finish for Champions League qualification.
Atlético are where they are because of a worrying lack of goals. In the first half they were better than Madrid, but missed three clear chances – something which has happened a lot this season. There was also a penalty claim for Morata that was not given. But when all came to all, they could not score.
And so Atléti’s opportunity passed them by as Zidane rectified his errors at the break. He had started with five midfielders walking around with the ball while Benzema was lost up front. Stuck on the wing, Valverde struggled to take advantage of his skillset. By half time, Courtois had touched more balls than Benzema; Oblak had barely needed to lift a finger, while Madrid had committed a total of nine fouls to Atlético’s two – a clear sign of who was struggling in those first 45 minutes.
Madrid, a different side in the second half
But Zidane corrected things by sending on Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius at half time to play on the wings and then everything changed. The second half began with Madrid immediately creating a chance through Valverde that put Oblak in trouble.
And soon after that came the goal – a perfect move started by Vinicius, who drew in two defenders before playing a smart pass to Mendy, who then served up a pin-point cross to Benzema that allowed the Frenchman to score.
Simeone made his changes but found that, with the current plague of injuries, there was little improvement he could achieve. And so the curtain came down gently, without any surprises.
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