The Madrid derby at the weekend was another tight, claustrophobic affair. Atletico and Real’s two previous competitive encounters this season ended scoreless. Only a piece of invention by Vinicius Junior early in the second half—cutting out three opposition players with a deft pass, which sent Ferland Mendy racing clear of Atletico’s cover before he crossed for Karim Benzema to score—helped to separate the two sides.
It was another scrappy win by Real Madrid, which keeps them three points clear at the top of the league table in Spain. Only Benzema is carrying his load up front—he has scored 13 goals in their league campaign, one fewer than Lionel Messi this season. The next-highest scorers in the league for coach Zinedine Zidane’s side are on three goals, one of them being Sergio Ramos, a central defender.
I’ve been going to see Real Madrid play for many years. They have always been more attacking,” says Jose Garcia, who has watched Real Madrid games at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium since the 1960s.
“I find Zinedine Zidane is too conservative. It was the same in the match against Atletico, as it has been in other recent matches—starting the match playing with five midfielders. The line-up means that you give a message to the other team—that you’re frightened. Now Real Madrid has got a fabulous squad. He should be a bit more aggressive.
“But you cannot blame Zidane because he can always say, ‘I won three Champions League titles,’ but I feel that if I have to pay a fortune to go from Galicia—where I now live—to see Real Madrid play, I’d like to see another type of football. I’m not a fan who only looks at the scoreboard. I like to enjoy good football.”