Mendy’s two-for-one leaves this Madrid decimated and low on goal one step away from the quarters. First, he appeased the effluvia of Atalanta, by causing a severe expulsion, and then he relieved Madrid of its drought with the most unexpected goal. In the desolate landscape of the Champions for the Spanish, the men of ZZ are the only castaways who find an islet. Narration and statistics (0-1)
Zidane did not think of Mendy when solving goal sudoku. He started with Isco’s box, which looks more like Benzema than Mariano. The comparisons are odious, but the French are distinguished more by the association than the goal, whatever they say, and Isco is an association or he is nothing. For some time now, it has been the second, outside the team because it has been disconnected, apart from specific injuries. Quality, however, is an instant, and it is what the Malaga player needed to invent a pass to Vinicius, who ruined the occasion when he was alone, facing Gollini.
Isco’s problem, regardless of the state of form, short, was the position. He is the midfielder, not the false nine, but neither the player nor Madrid is there to ask for the wine list and get exquisite. With what there is, table wine, it is necessary to push without looking back. To the bench, either, said with respect for the young people who arrive.
SPACES AT THE BACK
The Malaga player moved into an area with little space at the start of the crash, since the Atalanta center line defends forward and reduces the space very well. The Gasperini team is commendable, which has been like blasting a rock and roll on a gondola. However, it is the culture of all calcium that is changing, because Italy needed to do so to regain its hierarchy in Europe beyond Juve. It is on the way.
Gasperini’s bet nurtures offensive transitions, with long lanes and many footballers in the three quarters, where the really deadly decisions are made. However, it has its risks: the spaces that are left behind. A mistake is an imminent danger. I pass. Gasperini’s roadmap got blurred too early when Mendy got the upper hand to exploit his speed. Freuler brought him down and referee Stieler did not hesitate to show the Atalanta player the red card.
The decision was severe since it was difficult to determine that it was a very clear chance of scoring, but the knockdown was unquestionable. The VAR did not enter, because those actions correspond to the interpretation of the referee. It was similar to the one that cost Militao the expulsion against Levante, in Valdebebas, also with controversy. So with less voluntariness on the part of the defender, but with a little more verticality. The referee rules, like it or not.
Madrid had responded with intensity to the high pace of play proposed by Atalanta, which attacks as if it were doing it in waves, but the expulsion tempered the frequency, although not the ambitions. To the inferiority was added, after half an hour, the injury of one of his key pieces in the attack, Zapata. Former Sevilla player Muriel had to multiply and, despite his deployment, he had to leave the pitch on time, exhausted.
Gasperini recomposed his team after the expulsion in a 3-4-2, but without changing his movements in the deployment. The change was in the initiative, which from that moment would correspond to Madrid, with Casemiro everywhere, fireproof, which allowed Modric to take a step forward, who had two occasions, before and after the break. Isco, Vinicius, and, especially, Casemiro, whose shot at point-blank range Gollini took out with his chest, took Atalanta to the wall at the end of the first period, but without hitting the coup de grace.
NO SPARK, NO DARING
It was clear that the second half was going to be a continuity, with the Italian team more withdrawn in their area when they didn’t have possession, which was going to be most of the time. In the swarm, Madrid needed to increase the punch, so ZZ called Mariano. There wasn’t much else. Vinicius was the one sacrificed. The Brazilian had been active, more sparkling than decisive. When it could be, his ball went through the roof.
On the opposite band, Asensio lacked daring, inward diagonals. The Balearic Islands need to break to become a creditor of the treasure that is Madrid’s right-wing. He ended up sitting while Hugo Duro and Arribas jumped to give Madrid air. The rest was given to him by Mendy, finding the parable of survival from outside the area. The return awaits an Atalanta with an open grave and without Casemiro, but with a treasure trapped in Bergamo an anti-dive.