Atletico this year has made a leap in quality in their game. The additions of Carrasco, Luis Suarez and, curiously, Marcos Llorente from Real Madrid have made the team think more about the ball, creativity and possession. In addition, Joao Felix is beginning to look like the unbalanced player that the athletics are expecting.
Koke, Trippier, Savic, Mario Hermoso, Saúl are at a great level. The results are there. First in the league and qualified for the second round of the champions.
Madrid arrived at the derby after playing a great match against Borussia in the champions and another quite acceptable one against Sevilla C. F. In principle Madrid had overcome its most complicated week and arrived at the match against Atlético relaxed and without pressure.
Many Madrid players and fans thought that the match would be very complicated for Blancos because of the great effort made during the previous days. Zidane still has the same 12 or 13 players as always.
There are some who due to injury like Hazard or Mariano don't finish entering the dynamic of Blancos and others like Isco, Marcelo, Militao, Jovic or Asensio have simply lost the confidence of the French coach.
Real Madrid outplayed the red-and-white team in every aspect of the game and above all subjected it to high pressure that Simeone's players were practically unable to transfer at any time.
The backbone of the team worked perfectly: Ramos behind, Kroos and Modric directing and Benzema offering, opening gaps and generating unlikely passes.
This was joined by Carvajal and Lucas Vázquez, the former as if he had not been injured and the latter continuing with his repertoire of quality and work at a very high level.
It is surprising that Real Madrid has been superior to Atletico in the physical aspect, not so much in the game. Simeone showed a little fear by leaving Saul on the bench and putting Herrera on. Players who this season, as we commented above, had made the team go up a notch in the game like Carrasco, Joao Felix or Llorente were outplayed by the Real Madrid players.
Madrid left no gaps behind and were very firm. Above Benzema and Lucas were constantly offering to break the athletic pressure. But above all, Madrid's midfielders ate up Simeone's players. The Cholo made some tactical variation but it didn't work. Kroos, Casemiro and Modric did not lower the pressure and concentration. If we speak on Wednesday, in the champions' confrontation, as the best game of this year, today it was similar or even better because of the rival they were facing.
The first goal was converted by Casemiro in a corner kick that Herrera sleeps and the Brazilian finishes alone.
The second Carvajal with a very strong shot that hits the post soon and Oblak with bad luck introduces it with his back to his goal.
This last goal is unjustly awarded to Oblak in his own goal. It was a great goal by Carvajal, and it ended the match.
Real Madrid ended eight intense days in which they went from doubting Zidane's continuity to receiving well-deserved praise. Not only did they get 9 points out of 9 but they also beat their important rivals with superiority. Based on the work and quality that the spine, with an average age of 34, still treasures.
But this continues, as Cholo says, party by party. Neither the whites have won anything yet nor the red-white have lost the train. The latter are still leaders and have an extensive staff. The former have time to incorporate colleagues into the cause so as not to always play the same 12 or 13.
For the moment, Zinedine Zidane has confidence in those who are physically at their best. Anyone who wants to be part of this project will have to work hard.
The Ramos, Modric and Benzema have to give the formula to the Isco, Marcelo and Asensio.