Real Madrid beat Athletic in a match with a fast pace to be at the start of the league. Real Madrid with the 4-4-2 diamond, pressing high with Vinícius and Rodrygo. The way for Athletic to progress in the build-up was in the right side, because the player in charge of jumping on the right-back, De Marcos, was Camavinga, which gave Athletic enough time to progress down the wing. During the first minutes Iñaki Williams read these situations well, driting wide generating superiority.
The player who took advantage of this weakness was Nico Williams who played many 1v1’s, being the player who suffered the most Fran García. Not only because of those situations but also because when the ball came from the other side, he had to jump on the winger, leaving one player free on his back until a player gave support.
From the 20th minute, Athletic tried to get Fran García out of position by moving the winger inside but De Marcos didn’t have the speed to attack his back. Athletic also didn’t have the accuracy to progress quickly to generate scoring chances, taking advantage of the weaknesses that the diamond has when it comes to defending the wings.
Real Madrid in possession looked for more attacks on the left wing in the first few minutes, with Vinícius dropping to receive although these movements didn’t work due to the positioning of Fran García. He was too high in many plays, being squeezed by the right-back, unable to get a good angle, having to play with his back to goal. When Real Madrid progressed carrying the ball, Fran García had more space to receive, with Vinícius being the main threat in the gap between right-back and center-back.
As the minutes went by, Real Madrid began to play more on the right flank with Carvajal very high, receiving long passes from the centre-backs and Rodrygo making excellent movements off the ball to attract defenders, createing space for his teammates.
We can see it here, Rodrygo appears behind the left-back without being covered by any player.
If the center-back, Paredes, jumped on Rodrygo, then Bellingham was very intelligent, taking advantage of the gap between center-backs, attacking space.
The first goal comes from that area, with Carvajal inside. He receives Rodrygo’s pass and Paredes jumps on Carvajal trying to intercept the one-two pass, but he fails and Rodrygo scores with a powerful finish.
And the second goal is a great set-piece in which Bellingham makes a move to the far post, running behind his teammates’ blocks. Athletic’s defense doesn’t read the play and Alaba puts a perfect ball for the Englishman to finish off, scoring the final goal.
A key victory for Real Madrid to kick off the league, in a match that showed the strengths and weaknesses of Ancelotti’s diamond.