Real Madrid’s French ahead Karim Benzema celebrates his staff’s win on the finish of the Spanish league soccer match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid on the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 1, 2020.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP
Zinedine Zidane’s double substitution at half-time remodeled the Madrid derby on Saturday as Real Madrid edged previous Atletico 1-0 to maneuver six factors clear on the high of La Liga.
Karim Benzema scored the winner on the Santiago Bernabeu after Zidane’s decisive intervention turned a contest that Atletico had dominated into one other comfy Real Madrid victory.
Vinicius Junior, one of many substitutes, was a key to the aim.
Second-place Barcelona can minimize the hole again to 3 factors by beating Levante at dwelling on Sunday however Atletico now path the leaders by 13 factors.
While Diego Simeone’s aspect had been wonderful within the first half, they had been but once more blunt in entrance of aim after which failed to reply when their opponents discovered a unique gear.
This is Atletico’s fifth recreation and not using a win. The fear is that on this type, they need to fear not concerning the title race however about lacking out on Champions League qualification.
It is a far cry from pre-season when Atletico thrashed Real 7-3 and plenty of had been tipping them as severe challengers.
Zidane was beneath stress then, however his staff are on a relentless run, now 21 video games unbeaten, the most recent due largely to his modifications.
The determination to ditch a failing system and revert to 4-3-3, with Vinicuis Junior and Lucas Vazquez approaching for Isco and Toni Kroos, was each courageous and efficient.
Real’s type is spectacular they usually have Eden Hazard, out since November, on the point of a return, maybe on Thursday within the Copa del Rey quarter-finals in opposition to Real Sociedad.
Gareth Bale’s absence was not associated to health. The Welshman was unnoticed of the squad regardless of coaching for many of the week after an ankle harm.
Atletico had been with out the injured Kieran Trippier, which means Sime Vrsaljko got here in a right-back. January signing Yannick Carrasco was named on the bench, after rejoining from Dalian Yifang the day earlier than.
Simeone’s aspect had been considerably higher within the first half and may have taken certainly one of a handful of first rate probabilities as Vitolo hit Thibaut Courtois, Saul Niguez flashed vast and Angel Correa poked previous the publish after going via one-on-one, even when he most likely would have been known as offside.
Real Madrid’s cluster of central midfielders seemed uncertain of their 4-3-2-1 form. Fede Valverde seemed notably uncomfortable as he spent a lot of the primary half with no consideration winger. Luka Modric was nearly nameless in his extra superior function.
Zidane’s double change was a recognition of Atletico’s superiority as he reverted to the extra acquainted 4-3-3 with Modric deeper in midfield.
The steadiness shifted instantly. Real dominated the beginning of the second half.
In the 56th minute, Vinicius minimize in from the left and slipped within the overlapping Ferland Mendy, whose cross to the again publish gave Benzema a easy end.
Atletico had been weakened shortly earlier than when Alvaro Morata, maybe the most effective participant on the pitch within the first 45 minutes, went off with an harm. He was changed by Thomas Lemar, whom Simeone anticipated to be bought within the January switch window.
Real retreated just a little, maybe ready for an Atletico push that by no means got here.
Valverde loved a spontaneous standing ovation for a burst ahead, an appreciation too maybe for his sensible breakthrough season. Another roar of approval greeted the ultimate whistle.