Three questions and three answers from Real Madrid 2-0 Athletic Club

real Madrid were comfortable in beating a plucky Athletic Club side who were certainly no pushovers despite going 2-0 up at a purple-tinted Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on Sunday night. Rodrygo Goes ended his drought by scoring both goals for the home side and maintaining Real Madrid’s eight-point lead at the top of the LALIGA against a team that entered this match with just two defeats since October .

Three answers

1. How would Real Madrid fare without Vinícius Júnior?

This match was always going to be incredibly tricky for Real Madrid’s attacking approach, as Athletic had the second-best defensive record in LALIGA behind Real Madrid and had only conceded 12 goals in 14 away games. It is therefore not surprising that Carlo Ancelotti did not hesitate to use his offensive weapons since Brahim Díaz directly replaced Vinícius Júnior, choosing not to engage in the kind of aerial physical battle that Joselu can offer and with which Athletic’s defense feels more than comfortable. In a match with few chances, it was another Brazilian, Rodrygo Goes, who produced the magic moment with an impressive strike from distance for his first goal for the club since February and was equally clinical in scoring. add a second at the break. Sure, Vini could have opened up a few more spaces, but with or without him, Athletic would still provide a very difficult opponent to break down.

2. How well would Ernesto Valverde shoot?

Athletic Club’s next match is the Copa del Rey final against Mallorca and so it made sense that the former Barcelona manager would look to rotate. The Basque side made a total of five changes to the team that beat Alavés before the international break, although some saw starters recalled like Oihan Sancet, while others included a forced change as Nico Williams, injured, was replaced by Álex Berenguer. Notably, in goal, Spanish number one Unai Simón was left on the bench to give 23-year-old Julen Agirrezabala his first LALIGA appearance of the season.

3. Would we see Éder Militão for the first time since August?

For the first time since injuring his anterior cruciate ligament against the same opponent last August, Éder Militão was in Real Madrid’s squad for the day. Before the match, Ancelotti hinted he might get minutes, saying: “maybe not, maybe yes.” I’m not saying it’s 50%, it could be 70% no and 30% yes. We have to see it game by game. He may receive a report tomorrow and we have until April 9 to improve his condition. The knee is fine, all he needs is football, getting used to playing on a big field again and with his teammates. He recovered very well. In the end, there would only have been a very brief, token appearance from the Brazilian in the final minutes of injury time, although he underwent rigorous warm-up exercises and seemed eager to get back into the starting position. Antonio Rüdiger, or, more likely, captain Nacho Fernández.

Three questions

1. Why were Athletic in white and Real Madrid in purple?

Anyone who watched this match on television may have been very confused seeing the home crowd cheering for a team in purple against a team in white. This was because Real Madrid wore a new Y-3 jersey from Adidas. Available for just $225 on the club’s website, it’s described as “a fusion of elegance and tradition” that “continues the club’s collaboration with Y-3” with another limited edition jersey to follow the previous effort black. While Real Madrid wore purple and tested the lighting on the closed roof of the Bernabéu, Athletic opted to wear their all-white away kit. It was an unusual sight, which took some getting used to at the Bernabéu, even for the minority who visited the club store to buy the new jersey.

2. Is Rodrygo back?

We all know that Rodrygo’s form tends to come in waves, that goalless streaks are followed by an endless stream of strikes, and very few people at the Bernabéu on Sunday night would have guessed that the Brazilian didn’t have found the net. a Real Madrid jersey since February. After beating Unai Simón for Brazil at the Bernabéu during the international break, his confidence seemed to have returned and his finishing was on point. Gone was any hesitation or doubt in his game, with his first goal from distance showing his confidence to hit the ball from so far, while in the second half he carried the ball on the counter and showed blood -incredible cold to get back as close as possible. post and add a second for his third double of the season. In doing so, he matched his goal return in LALIGA’s last 14 games in a single night. If he gets fit now, there’s never been a better time to do it.

3. Will Toni Kroos ever get old?

If there is one performance that stands out, apart from the goalscorer in attack, it is veteran German midfielder Toni Kroos who showed that his return to the selection with Germany would have no significant impact on his form for Real Madrid. After playing 179 minutes against elite opponents in France and the Netherlands at age 34 and coming out of international retirement, it was reasonable to have doubts. Despite all the concerns, the veteran produced the kind of display of action that made Real Madrid so keen to secure their future beyond this summer. Playing 81 minutes, he completed 92% of his 77 passes, creating one chance, winning his two tackles and winning six of his eight duels. With tackling akin to Eduardo Camavinga’s sprawling energy and distribution as only he can provide, it was once again a commanding display from Kroos.

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