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Deportivo La Coruña
March 2, 2014
• Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro
• Attendance: 54600
K. Benzema 3'
Cristiano Ronaldo 82'
That's it from me, bye for now!
Atletico narrowly avoid getting the win that would have brought them level with Real at the top of the table and completed the double in El Derbi for the first time in 63 years. The Rojiblancos remain three points off the top, but have the crucial tie breaker on their rivals thanks to their head to head record. Ronaldo saved Real's bacon late on with a clutch strike, and a draw is just about a fair result, and a fitting end to an enthralling game. Real stay top of the table.
90' + 3'
Real look to have had a late free kick to whip into the area, but the referee decides that enough is enough and blows the final whistle before the set piece can be taken!
90' + 2'
Bad foul from Rodriguez as he goes in high on Alonso, and the referee is quick to quell the fires. Bale whips in the resulting free kick towards the far post, and Ramos heads it back across goal, but Courtois comes off his line to make a comfortable catch.
90' + 1'
Into the first of three additional minutes. Atletico are clearly holding on for the draw as Madrid throw bodies forward in the attacking third. Not long for the hosts to hold on now though.
Have to say that Madrid are the side finishing this game in the ascendancy. They've been on top since their equaliser, and are pushing for the winner. Remember that la Liga's tie breaker is head to head rather than goal difference, and with Atletico winning 2-1 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season, one more Real goal will give then the advantage on that front.
Luis pulls off a GAME SAVING block to thwart Ronaldo inside the area. Marcelo had evaded his marker out on the left, and lofted in a dangerous ball that was begging to be hit. Ronaldo nearly obliged, but for the important intervention of the Atletico defender!
OOOH CLOSE CALL! Isco plays the ball into Bale at the top of the area. The former Tottenham star is trying to put the ball onto his left foot, but the defence prevent him from doing so. No matter, because he flicks a wonderful backheel to Benzema inside the area, but the Frenchman is deemed offside when he was just about level and in a great position to score!
Some SHAMBOLIC defending from Real nearly gifts Costa a golden chance to score, but a late interception from Pepe cuts out the chance. Real are straight back down the pitch, and Modric blazes agonizingly over the bar from a great position at the edge of the box!
Make no mistake, that was a CLINICAL finish from Ronaldo. Simeone responds with the expected change, bringing on Rodriguez for Turan, who has had an excellent game.
Assist Gareth Bale
Goal Cristiano Ronaldo
Suarez fails to cut out Carvajal down the right hand flank, and the substitute is in down the byeline. He cuts the ball into the box, and a deflection takes it into the path of Bale. The Welshman cannot control it, but Ronaldo is on the loose ball and slams it home from 12 yards!
RONALDO LEVELS IT UP!
Starting to turn into one way traffic in the direction of Courtois' goal, but Madrid are struggling to create any chances in front of a wall of red and white shirts. Meanwhile, Simeone is plotting to introduce Rodriguez into the fray.
The match starting to slow down here as Atletico take the sting out of the game. They've done their job and then some, getting the goals they need and more importantly, preventing the devastating Madrid attacking unit from ever kicking into gear.
By the way, the Atletico coach who was sent off earlier was assistant German Barcos. He has had a history of confrontation in la Liga. In fact, he once threatened to rip Jose Mourinho's head off. Big fella too, I wouldn't like to cross him.
GREAT CHANCE! Carvajal makes an instant impact off the bench,clipping in a splendid ball into the penalty area that Ronaldo attacks. The Portuguese rises well between the two centre backs, but plants a free header just wide of the post!
Ronaldo slams a free kick into the wall as Ancelotti makes his final change. He's already subbed off both of his fullbacks, and sacrifices Di Maria for Isco with his final roll of the dice. Seventeen minutes left, can Real salvage anything? Do they deserve to salvage anything?
Ángel Di María
Arbeloa, who was booked moments ago for a careless foul, has been substituted, probably for his own protection. He's looked shaky this half, and Carvajal is the man chosen to replace him in a like for like substitution.
Atletico hit right back at the other end of the pitch, as Marcelo is caught in possession, and Juanfran whips in a delicious ball to the far post that is met by Turan, but pushed onto the crossbar spectacularly by Lopez!
As the game restarts following that incident, Real nearly score as Bale flicks a header goalwards from a Modric free kick, and draws a sprawling tip over the crossbar from Courtois!
Yellow Card Arbeloa
IT'S KICKING OFF! A member of the Atletico touchline staff is absolutely incensed at that decision to book Costa, and is right up in the referee's grill protesting the decision. His body language is very threatening, and the referee, with the help of Simeone, instructs him to leave the dugout!
NOW THEN! Costa seems to have the step on Arbeloa, and is felled just outside the box. But the referee, instead of awarding an Atletico free kick, elects to book the Brazilian for continued simulation! The Atletico bench are not happy with that, but it looked like a 50-50 call for me.
Yellow Card Diego Costa
BENZEMA! Best chance of the second half, as the French striker attacks a ball inside the area with an excellent body shape, but lashes the attempt agonizingly wide of the post, with Courtois struggling to get there in time! Better from the visitors.
More subs in the offing from Real, as Ancelotti and Zidane are locked in conversation on the sidelines, with the likes of Isco and Illarramendi going through their warmups. Madrid could use some freshening up in attack if they want to get back in this game.
The expected sub does occur, as Marcelo replaces Coentrao, who has only completed the 90 minutes in three Liga outings this campaign. Perhaps the increased attacking threat from the Brazilian down the left will open up more avenues for Ronaldo on that same flank.
First substitution of the game, as Marcelo, surprisingly benched for Coentrao, is set to make his appearance. Meanwhile, Costa rises high on an Atletico corner, and bounces a header into the ground, and just wide of Lopez's far post!
HANDBALL? Ronaldo slams the free kick into the wall, and Gabi gets an arm up to block the shot. It strikes him on the forearm, and Ronaldo leads the Real appeals for a penalty, given that the wall was set up inside the box. Nothing doing from the referee though.
Now then, Madrid have a free kick on the edge of the box right in Ronaldo territory. Everyone waits with bated breath as the Portuguese steps up to the plate with that familiar bow legged stance...
Have to give Simeone all the credit in the world for stymieing Ronaldo and Bale all game so far. The pair have hardly had a sniff, save for one opportunistic strike from Ronaldo around the half hour mark. Madrid as a whole have not clicked in their usual manner as an attacking force.
COSTA! What a brilliant chance for 3-1! A clip over the top from Garcia catches the Real back line high up the pitch, and Costa beats Pepe to the ball. He advances on Lopez and has the angle for the shot, but misses the target, slashing it wide of the far post!
Costa pulls off a Ronaldinho-style move, striking the free kick under the jump of the wall in the manner that his compatriot made famous. However, Lopez reads it all the way and positions himself well to smother.
Costa wins a free kick in a very dangerous position after getting tripped up by Alonso. It's met with a furious reaction from Real, which is countered by an equally angry response from Atletico. Simeone has been given his final warning by the referee.
No change for either team coming out of the half time break. The game's been pretty even, and the managers are quite happy for the players to keep doing their thing for now.
Here we go again!
It's all set up excellently for the second half. Atletico have just about been the better side, but it's a narrow edge, and Real have probably had the better of the chances in the first half. The restart is just around the corner, so stay tuned!
A spectacular ending to a spectacular first half. Madrid took the earliest of leads through Benzema, but Atletico hit back through Koke and that wonder goal from Gabi. Sadly, the game has been marred by some unsavory incidents off the ball, but it's all been part of the energy and drama that has kept me glued to my seat.
45' + 2'
That's the end of the first half!
45' + 1'
45' + 1'
An absolutely INCREDIBLE strike from the Atletico captain! A set move from the set piece sees the free kick played short to Gabi, who is still at least 30 yards from goal. But he hammers in a stunning strike that flies into the top corner!
Alonso goes in with a sneaky forearm shiver into the back of Garcia. The Atletico midfielder goes down, but this time, his anguish is justified. Atletico have a free kick inside the Real half, and it may just be the last attacking move of the half...
Costa pulls of a SUPERB turn at the top of the box that takes Pepe out of the equation and leaves Ramos struggling to catch up. He advances towards the near post with the ball, but Lopez is off his line quickly to meet him and makes a VITAL block!
Now Godin tries to get retribution on Pepe by dramatically throwing himself on the ground when jostling with Pepe on a dead ball situation. Carlos Delgado, our match official, is not moved though, but it's sad to see the simulation becoming the main story of the first half.
It's a yellow card apiece for Pepe and Godin. Correct decision as there was some contact from the Uruguayan defender, but Pepe clearly and shamelessly tried to sell the incident as a lot more than it was. In fact, probably a little harsh on Godin given that Pepe went down clutching his face like he'd had his eye gouged out!
Yellow Card Diego Godín
Yellow Card Pepe
MORE DRAMA! Pepe goes down clutching his face in the penalty box, right in front of the referee. Both players crowd around the match official, and it's hard to determine exactly what happened. The ref has the yellow card out, who will be the unlucky party?
Sigh, more play acting out on the pitch, as Raul Garcia goes down theatrically after a tussle with Pepe. Replays confirm my suspicions that it was a completely innocent bit of contact, as Pepe simply lost his balance after clearing a ball, and Garcia could not halt his forward momentum.
Bale and Ronaldo have swapped flanks at the moment, with both players now attacking the side that matches their stronger foot. However, Ronaldo still cuts in from the right onto his left peg, and drills a bouncing effort from all of 30 yards that's easy pickings for Courtois, who catches comfortably into his chest.
Appeals go up from Real as Di Maria, under contact from Gabi, goes down in a dangerous position right on the edge of the Atletico penalty area. The referee is not interested though, and waves play on. He's not done much wrong so far, the man in black, and I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt there, even though my initial reaction was that it was a foul.
Ronaldo had that chance earlier where he hit the post via a touch from Courtois, but we haven't seen much action from Bale so far. On a few occasions, Benzema has drifted into his zone on the right flank, and that has forced the Welshman into a few awkward reshuffles in his attacking position.
We have a game now folks, and the Atletico fans are simply not letting up with their support in the stands. A goal apiece is a fair score given the generally even pattern of play so far, and the game continues to open up as the first half wears on.
Assist Arda Turan
That was some SLICK play from Arda Turan, who twisted and turned at the top of the box, deceiving two Madrid players before finding the unmarked Koke inside the left side of the area. The midfielder does not hesitate, smashing a shot across the body of Lopez and into the back of the net!
KOKE!!!! ATLETICO ARE LEVEL!
NEARLY A SECOND! Modric latches onto a Bale feed, and digs out a dangerous cross low into the Atletico mixer. Ronaldo beats Godin to get a touch to turn it towards goal, but Courtois reads it well and pushes the ball onto the woodwork!
The game starting to open up now with a chance at either end of the field. Costa strides into shooting space in the box, narrowly missing the target, before Benzema lashes a volley on goal from a raking ball forward, which Courtois has to save down low.
The game is halted for a few minutes for the Portuguese defender to receive treatment from the visiting physios. It looked like he landed awkwardly more than anything, and thankfully for Real, he looks like he's able to continue, though he's moving a little gingerly.
Replays of that Suarez tackle on Alonso show it to be much worse than I originally suspected, as he went in really late on the former Liverpool midfielder. More injury concern for Real now as Pepe if writhing in agony on the turf, clutching the back of his foot.
The game getting broken up here, as Alonso takes a tough challenge from Suarez, before Ronaldo goes down on the deck clutching his knee. The referee has only reached for the yellow card once so far, but you can bet on it coming out again before the half is up.
I would say that Atletico have just about shaded the opening exchanges, as they've held the majority of the ball and are spraying some encouraging passes in the opposition half. There's been a few incidents of overacting already though, let's hope it doesn't become a spectacle instead of a side note.
Can't see this one staying 11 vs 11 if I'm honest. The Derbi fire is burning in the belly of each and every player and fan, with every perceived injustice against Atletico greeted with a hailstorm of incredulity from the Vicente Calderon stands. Still, not many chances in front of goal despite the energy.
Yellow Card Arda Turan
Replays suggest that the match official made the correct call as though Ramos did not get the ball, Costa was trying to sell the contact hook, line and sinker. In fact, Atletico have come off worse for wear at the end of that incident, as Turan has been booked for his frenzied protests.
DRAMA CUTTING LOOSE! Costa drives into the area in his typically single minded manner, and tries to take it down the outside of Sergio Ramos. He goes down when Ramos leans in with the contact, to an almighty howl from the fans. However, the referee decides to wave play on!
Interesting stat coming in that points out that Real have scored inside the first quarter of an hour in ten of their last 15 visits to the Vicente Calderon (via Opta Joe). The visitors are enjoying a bright beginning to this one as well outside of their goal.
The atmosphere is absolutely electric inside the Vicente Calderon, and there's no shortage of tackles and pressing in the opening exchanges. Costa though comes up with the worst challenge of the lot, sliding in late on Diego Lopez, but he avoids any retribution from the referee.
Simeone is fuming on the sidelines, directing his venom at both the fourth official and his team. It's exactly the kind of beginning that the hosts would have dreaded, and to concede in such a careless manner will be extra hard for the Atletico manager to take. Will this force Atletico out of their shell?
Assist Ángel Di María
Goal Karim Benzema
What a start for the visitors! After Godin conceded a corner off a free kick, Real play it short to Di Maria, who whips in a glorious inswinging cross towards the far post. No one, and I mean NO ONE picks up Benzema, who stabs home with impunity. Atletico are appealing for an offside, but it looked legit to me on the replays.
REAL IN FRONT ALREADY!!!!
Hold on to your hats folks, we're off!
It's all roses and lollipops in the white corner though. Real are streaking through their football at the moment, on the back of a 27 match unbeaten run in all competitions, stretching back to last October. Quite simply, no one can handle the firepower and speed of the Liga leaders, with Bale and Ronaldo devastating opponents on the flanks, while the likes of Di Maria and Benzema do the damage centrally.
Those two defeats to los Blancos started a rotten patch of form for Simeone's men. In their past six games in all competitions, Atletico have lost four times - though they did grab a crucial 1-0 away win in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against AC Milan.
The most famous of those wins of course was just under a year ago, when Atletico took the Copa Del Rey crown at the expense of their rivals in the final of 2013. The Rojiblancos have already won 1-0 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season, but in the identical fixture last campaign, Real triumphed 2-1 here at the Vicente Calderon - as well as in both legs of this season's Copa semi's.
There was a time when El Derbi Madrileno used to be as one sided a matchup as any in la Liga. No longer though. Simeone's current incarnation can go toe to toe with any in the league. The past five games between these sides has seen Real edge out three victories to Atletico's two.
Carlo Ancelotti springs something of a surprise in his back four, benching Marcelo and Dani Carvajal in favour of Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao in the fullback spots. Cristiano Ronaldo returns from suspension to headline the feared 'BBC' front three, alongside Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, who begins ahead of Jese on the flanks.
Diego Simeone elects to start with Arda Turan and Raul Garcia on either side of Diego Costa in the home team's attack, as there is no place for David Villa or Diego in the XI. Mario Suarez also comes in to man the middle of the park alongside Koke and Gabi.
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Lopez; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Alonso, Modric, Di Maria; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
ATLETICO MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Luis; Suarez, Gabi, Koke; Turan, Costa, Garcia.
Let's delve into our teams, shall we?
Hello, and welcome to the Madrid derby. This one needs no introduction, as Atletico host Real at the Vicente Calderon. My name is Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be your guide.
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