Real Madrid now sit in second place of the La Liga standings. Los Merengues offered a sensational display and defeated their local rivals, Atletico Madrid, to the tune of a huge 3-1 at Wanda Metropolitano this Saturday. Here are three things we learned following this exciting derby match.
Vinicius Jr. is the real deal
When Vinicius Jr. joined Real Madrid during the summer, the decision from Julen Lopetegui to keep him at Real Madrid Castilla was puzzling, to say the least. It was clear the former Flamengo star was too good for that level, and that he was ready to play with the first team. And that has been the case ever since Santiago Solari was appointed as the team’s manager. The Brazilian has been enjoying a steady dose of first-team minutes, and seems to be playing better and better after each week.
To further enhance the value of Vinicius Jr. on the current Real Madrid squad, we must considering the following: in less than one week, Vinicius already started against both FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. He took Gareth Bale’s spot in the starting XI, and there is no evidence that suggests he will be removed from the lineup any time soon. The hype is real about this kid. However…
Real Madrid can’t keep Gareth Bale on the bench anymore
Los Merengues simply can’t keep Bale on the bench anymore. The Welshman might not be as decisive as Cristiano Ronaldo, as flashy as Vinicius Jr. or as effective as Karim Benzema. However, he is (undoubtedly) one of the best attackers on this Real Madrid squad. He should be playing far more minutes, and meaningful ones.
He further proved that point this Saturday against Atletico Madrid. Bale came off the bench in the 57th minute, and found the back of net less than 20 minutes later to close things out. Los Blancos might be already out of the title race – more on that later – but they need to play their best guys week in and week out. And there’s no question Bale is one of them.
Atletico Madrid is still one step behind Real Madrid in THIS area
Los Colchoneros have the best defence in the league. They also own a plethora of attacking alternatives to choose from. Diego Simeone has assembled one of the most balanced squads in La Liga. However, they still seem to be one step behind both Barcelona and Real Madrid in one particular aspect. One that’s key to form title-winning squads. And that’s individual quality.
It’s not like Atletico lack impact players. Los Colchoneros have Jan Oblak, Antoine Griezmann, Koke, Saul, Diego Godin… several players who can be game-changing players. But they don’t have as many as both Barca and Madrid have. And that was noticeable on Saturday. When things got tougher for Los Colchoneros, no player seemed to step it up. The difference in this game didn’t happen due to this, but it would have been nice to see Atletico trying to go toe-to-toe with Los Merengues.
For the next time, perhaps. But they are still behind their hated city rivals at least in that area.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (4); Arias (5), Gimenez (5), Godin (4), Lucas (6); Correa (5) (Rodri (5), 65′), Thomas (4), Saul (6), Lemar (5) (Vitolo (6), 59′); Morata (6) (Kalinic (5), 71′), Griezmann (7)
Bench: Adan (GK), Filipe Luis, Juanfran, Montero
Real Madrid: Courtois (5); Dani Carvajal (6), Varane (5), Sergio Ramos (7), Reguilon (6); Modric (5), Casemiro (7), Kroos (6) (Dani Ceballos (-), 84′); Lucas (6), Benzema (6) (Mariano (-), 89′), Vinicius Jr. (7) (Bale (7), 57′)
Bench: Navas (GK), Nacho, Marcelo, Marco Asensio
Goals: Casemiro (0-1, 16′), Griezmann (1-1, 25′), Sergio Ramos (1-2, 42′), Bale (1-3, 74′)
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernandez
Yellow Cards: Griezmann, Gimenez, Lucas, Thomas, Morata, Saul (ATL); Lucas, Reguilon, Modric (MAD)
Red Cards: Thomas (ATL)
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