Real Sociedad 0-2 Real Madrid (Vinícius Júnior & Jović). Here is the immediate reaction to the triumph… On the way: highlights from the press conference, player notes and post-match podcast.
Real Sociedad had established themselves as everyone’s sweetheart in La Liga over the past few seasons, and this year the Spanish Cup champions continued to climb high in the top half of the table. That would make it another tough game for Real Madrid to overcome in their attempt to lift the trophy at the end of the campaign. With a grueling fourth game in sight against Atlético Madrid, you’d think a manager like Carlo Ancelotti would choose to turn even slightly to keep some players cool for both games – but the roster has remained strong. Names like Eden Hazard and Isco are regulars on the bench list these days, while Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga might consider themselves unlucky not to start. Karim Benzema was the team captain.
Shy was the right word to describe the opening half hour, although some might even use the term. It looked like both sides were holding back as Sociedad looked to play from behind as much as possible, and Madrid looked to create chances thanks to Benzema and Vinícius Júnior. After some controlled efforts from both forwards, the game started to open up more. However, that seemed to tilt slightly in Sociedad’s favor as they posed a bigger threat to Thibaut Courtois’ goal – without asking the tall goalkeeper for anything. The highlights of the half were the injury issues, unfortunately to say. Initially, Ferland Mendy stopped after running down the left side, only to resume play moments later after some panic on the bench. Then disaster struck when Karim Benzema stopped play on his own and signaled to the manager that he couldn’t continue. He ran quite easily when he was replaced by Luka Jović, so I hope he just felt a slight pull in his left leg and pulled out as a precaution. Half-time approached with the scoreboard remaining blank.
With Benzema away, fans looked to Vinícius Júnior to make a difference and qualify for a big second half, and it couldn’t have started better for him. He joined Jović well within two minutes before placing the ball in the corner to continue his superb form this season. Madrid started to regain the upper hand in the game and ten minutes later doubled their lead, this time thanks to Jović finally hitting the target for Los Blancos – as he passed Álex Remiro at close range to add to which was already his best performance for the club. Casemiro was taken out before he could receive a yellow card and a Madrid derby suspension, and was replaced by Camavinga. The pace of the game got out of hand after that, as we’ve seen so often this season when Madrid need a big three point. This allowed the visitors to see the game in comfort and to win another big win against a strong team. That’s three (Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad) not necessarily pretty victories, but victories against teams that have often surpassed Real Madrid in the past. This becomes even more important when you take into account the fact that Barcelona and Atlético Madrid suffered losses today, the latter against a Takefusa Kubo goal in the last minute. This will really be an important point to think about at the end of the season. What do you think, Madrid fans?