Real Madrid Rise Above Injury Crisis And Potentially Find Catalyst For Season Finale

Real Madrid Rise Above Injury Crisis And Potentially Find Catalyst For Season Finale

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By Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro)

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Carlo Ancelotti had anything but his A-Team available last night, but the manager once more proved himself capable of adapting his players to fit the side’s needs. Wednesday night saw him deploy Sergio Ramos in midfield to replace the injured Luka Modric, a bold move which was vindicated by Ramos’ robust performance.

The Spanish international renewed his acquaintance with Mario Mandzukic in the centre of the pitch, keeping the formidable Croatian quiet and helping Madrid keep their balance.

Indeed Los Blancos kept their shape and their cool, which would have pleased Ancelotti infinitely as the Italian had implored his side to remain patient. It was imperative they did as well, with Atletico set up to frustrate Los Blancos and Jan Oblak picking up where he left off in the first leg, denying Madrid with a string of superb saves.

The Slovenian’s emergence as a keeper of extreme quality is one of the positives that Atletico can take from this elimination and the man who had started just four league games before this Champions League tie looks set to be Los Rojiblancos’ first choice for quite some time.

Yet there is little glory in defeat for Diego Simeone’s men, who were organized yet stultifying and not worthy of progression. Madrid’s nearly 40 attempts on goal over the two legs showed the imbalance in the attacking intent of the two sides (Atleti had four on target in 180 minutes). 

This is a victory for Real Madrid that means more than just a passage into the last four of the Champions League. The players showed themselves capable of dominating Atletico, competing with their intensity and nullifying their set piece prowess.

The manager displayed his courage and ability to tactically control a game with his team selection. And the fans showed an insatiable passion both inside and outside the ground.

All this after an 11 month period during which time Madrid had failed to overcome their cross city rivals on seven different occasions across four different competitions. Wednesday’s win was cathartic and may yet prove to be a catalyst in the final stretch of the season.

If the side, without four first team players, can beat the one team that had comprehensively gotten the better of them over the last year, they will feel they can overcome anyone. 

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