Antoine Griezmann decided the derby between the two city rivals on Saturday afternoon at Santiago Bernabeu, leaving Real Madrid drifting four points behind Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings.
It was perhaps the worst performance from Los Blancos since Zinedine Zidane took over and it is the second slump in a row for Real Madrid, who have been held to a 1-1 stalemate at Malaga last week.
The first half of the game saw hosts dominate possessions, but fail to do anything with it, other than to create a good scoring opportunity for Cristiano Ronaldo, whose free kick was punched clear by Jan Oblak. Other than that, Real Madrid created few chances in the entire game, with Cristiano Ronaldo on the forefront.
In the meantime, Atletico Madrid used their best scoring opportunity to nail one past Keylor Navas and Griezmann’s goal ended up separating the two sides.
As Real Madrid do further behind the leading duo in the La Liga standings, here are the five things we learned at Santiago Bernabeu today.
Real’s domestic season as good as over
ZInedine Zidane has vowed before the game that Real Madrid would fight until the end on La Liga, even if they lost to city rivals.
As that is exactly what happened, Los Blancos are for the moment nine points behind Barcelona in third, but the Catalans are welcoming Sevilla on Sunday and will have the opportunity to go 12 clear off Zidane’s charges, so it is fair to say Real’s season might very well be as good as over.
Having in mind that it was due to unprofessional error that Real Madrid were eliminated from the Copa del Rey, after they fielded an ineligible player, their only chance of winning a trophy this season remains the UEFA Champions League.
Knowing Zidane and Real Madrid, they will not give up the domestic fight, but having in mind Barcelona’s formidable form, it will be almost impossible to beat them in the title chase.
Zidane is risking his stature as Real Madrid legend
He always knew it was going to be a special challenge, but Zinedine Zidane has put his entire playing career at risk when he decided to sit on the bench and singlehandedly lead the team forward.
He must be accredited with instant impact, though. The French manager has completely changed the atmosphere within the squad and his relationship with the players has been really impressive.
Zidane was in their shoes not too long ago and if there is anyone who can relate to all they are going through than it is him.
In addition to the atmosphere, Zidane has brought the changes in the style of play, as well. It was evident against Atletico Madrid, Los Blancos are trying to adopt a simple playing style, without unnecessary holding on to the ball. First-touch football and fluent game-play is not easy to develop against the teams such as Atletico Madrid and the French manager should be praised for his influence, despite the defeat.
However, should thing keep going downhill, Zidane will be faced with huge pressure that will put all of his Real Madrid legacy aside, as failure is one thing fans would never forgive and forget.
Borja Mayoral – the future is bright for Real Madrid
Real Madrid fans are delighted to see a homegrown player making breakthrough into the first-team and Borja Mayoral has received another chance to impress, having been introduced for Karim Benzema at the half time.
The 18-year-old who scored 13 time in 28 games for Castilla this season made his debut for Los Blancos against Las Palmas and Zinedine Zidane has tipped his youngster to make impression in the future.
As Real Madrid get further away from the league’s summit, Zinedine Zidane might turn to Borja Mayoral and even some other Castilla stars, who would cherish the first-team experience as they make their way towards stardom.
Stefan Savic picked up an injury and was unavailable for the derby, but Diego Simeone has plenty of options in the back and his team has once again proved to be a rock-solid unit with defence as the foundation of their every run and play on the pitch.
Rojiblancos have kept the clean sheet for the fourth consecutive time and the total of 11 conceded goals this season speak volumes of their impressive defences.
Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin and Felipe Luiz were impressive in their respective duties in front of Oblak’s goal, but they also took part in Atletico Madrid’s attacks as we have seen these four up front in several occasions during the Madrid derby.
Griezmann, when most needed
The French striker has played 25 appearances in the league this season and was on fire in the first part of the campaign.
However, Griezmann has suffered a slight dip in form in recent weeks and has been below par for his team.
Winning goal against Real Madrid will have been a huge morale boost for the player himself, most of all because Griezmann has gone five games without scoring. His last goal before Saturday’s game came against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey, while it was more than a month when he last scored in La Liga.
His brace against Las Palmas came on 17 January and Griezmann will have been delighted with the fact he broke the duck once again.
REAL MADRID: Navas 7 – Carvajal 6.5, Varane 7, Ramos 6.5, Danilo 7 – Modric 7, Kroos 7, Isco 7 (Jese 6.5) – Rodriguez 6.5 (Lucas 6) – Benzema 6.5 (Mayoral 6), Ronaldo 7.
Unused subs: Casemiro, Casilla, Nacho, Kovacic.
ATLETICO MADRID: Oblak 7.5 – Juanfran 7.5, Gimenez 7, Godin 7.5, Filipe Luis 7.5 – Niguez 7, Gabi 7, Fernandez 6.5 (Kranevitter 6.5), Koke 6.5 – Griezmann 8, Torres 7 (Correa 6.5).
Unused subs: Gamez, Hernandez, Moya, Torres O., Vietto.
REFEREE: Carlos Clos Gomez