La Liga 2016/17: 5 lessons we learnt from the Madrid derby
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, bagged the match ball as well as most of the plaudits from the media as Real Madrid beat their eternal city rivals Atletico Madrid in a rather comfortable 3-0 victory at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
The Portuguese forward began the scoring early in the first half with a free-kick that deflected into the goal via Stefan Savic, confusing Jan Oblak in goal. The Slovenian international made a number of full-length saves, but was unable to stop a 71st-minute penalty, nor was he able to do anything about a wonderful Gareth Bale through ball which Cristiano Ronaldo latched on to for his hat-trick.
The rest of the Real Madrid team were no slouches, however, as Real outplayed Atletico in every department and had control of the proceedings from beginning to end. It was a fascinating encounter in which both teams gave their very best, but Real were decidedly superior on the night and thoroughly deserved their 3 points and the 3-0 scoreline at the end.
Here are 5 lessons we learnt from the game.
#5 Isco is a big-game player
In recent games between Atletico and Real, Zidane’s men had always been outnumbered in midfield due to the wonderful enthusiasm shown by Antoine Griezmann and the Atleti midfield. They would close down spaces ahead of Modric and Kroos, making it difficult for any Madrid player to take more than a single touch in the central areas.
In the derby, Zidane’s decision to play Ronaldo and Isco through the middle paid dividends. Isco, who took up his most natural role as a no. 10 for the game, was lively, vibrant and full of ideas. His runs through the centre of the pitch, particularly in the middle third, caused chaos in the Atletico defence lines in a manner that they hadn’t faced this season.
Isco, coming on the back of a crucial equalising goal for Spain against England in the midweek international friendlies, was in full flow. His time on the pitch was a thorough justification of Zidane’s decision to field him, as his enterprise in the attacking half helped Real to create chances which no other player in the Real squad currently could have produced.
Into his 4th season at the Madrid club now, Isco has well and truly found his feet as a big-game player for Real, who would do well to hold on to him in the coming transfer windows.