Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid: Merengues Secure Draw In Final Match Before Champions League Final

Juan Pablo Aravena in Editorial, La Liga 19 May 2018

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If Real Madrid wanted to end their Liga season doubt-free before the UEFA Champions League final next week, then we can say they did not accomplish their mission. After jumping to a quick two-goal lead in the first half, Real Madrid could not hold on to the result and ended settling for a 2-2 draw against Villarreal at Estadio La Ceramica in Round 38 of Spain’s La Liga.

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo netted first-half goals for Los Blancos. However, second-half substitutes Roger Martinez and Samu Castillejo evened things up for El Submarino Amarillo. As a result, Real Madrid finished the Liga campaign in third place. But most importantly, it showed that the team still has a lot of things to work on before the Champions League final against Liverpool next Saturday.

Bale and Ronaldo lift Madrid to an early lead…

Real Madrid got off to an impressive start, though. The team looked as if they were on a mission, and only needed 11 minutes to score the first goal of the game. A quick free kick taken in midfield found Gareth Bale outside the box, and the Welshman did his best impression of a striker. Bale held on to the ball, found an inch of space, and placed the ball out of Andres Fernandez’s reach.

Zinedine Zidane’s men didn’t back down and managed to double their lead in the 32nd minute thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese striker – who looked 100% fit while he was out there – took advantage of a perfect cross from Marcelo and nodded the ball home. Without doing much, Madrid were leading 2-0 and seemed set to end the Liga season with a comfortable win. But things changed massively after the half time break.

…but Villarreal evened things up after the break

Maybe it was Real Madrid’s tendency to rest key players – Ronaldo and Luka Modric left the pitch in the 62nd minute – or maybe it was the fact that Villarreal played with a different approach. The one thing that was true was that Villarreal had their answers on the bench. First it was Roger Martinez who made things close with an impressive finish into the top corner past Luca Zidane, and later Samu Castillejo equalised in the 85th minute after a lovely through ball from Rodri Hernandez. Rodri sliced a pass over Madrid’s defence, and Samu – who had come in only minutes earlier – left Zidane behind and placed the ball home.

Castillejo had a very eventful game, to say the least. He only spent 13 minutes on the pitch, but that was enough to register a goal, a yellow card, and complicate Madrid’s defensive line. It was quite a game for the 23-year-old.

Now Real Madrid can focus on what really matters: the upcoming UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool. But if this game served of any indication, then the team must improve their focus when taking the lead. They can’t allow to let another lead slip away in what’s going to be the biggest game of the season.

Match Report

Villarreal: Andres Fernandez (6); Gaspar (6), Bonera (6), Alvaro (5), Adrian Marin (5); Fornals (5) (Castillejo (7), 77′), Javi Fuego (6) (Al-Dawsari (5), 57′), Rodri (7), Soriano (5); Unal (5) (Martinez (7), 67′), Sansone (6)

Subs Not Used: Barbosa (GK), Jaume Costa, Victor Ruiz, Cheryshev

Real Madrid: Luca (5); Carvajal (6), Varane (5), Sergio Ramos (6), Marcelo (7); Modric (6) (Vazquez (5), 62′), Casemiro (6), Kroos (7); Isco (5) (Kovacic (6), 73′); Bale (7), Ronaldo (7) (Benzema (6), 62′)

Subs Not Used: Casilla (GK), Nacho, Theo, Asensio

Goals: Bale (0-q, 11′), Ronaldo (0-2, 32′), Martinez (1-2, 70′), Castillejo (2-2, 85′)

Referee: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez

Yellow Cards: Alvaro, Castillejo, Martinez, Al-Dawsari (VIL); Modric, Casemiro, Kroos (MAD)

Red Cards: None

Attendance: 18,891

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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