27 April 2013
Real Madrid won again at the Vicente Calderon and displayed the strength in depth that Jose Mourinho has available. Things went against the Whites very early on, but they showed their resilience and turned around the scoreboard following Falcao’s fourth minute opener. Di Maria played a key role. The first goal came from a free-kick taken by the Argentine that deflected off of Juanfran before beating Courtois. The second was his and with a shot into the far corner. It was deserved and that is what was shown by the ovation that the Real Madrid fans in Atletico’s stadium gave him when he was replaced by Modric. Eleventh consecutive unbeaten league match (ten of them have been wins) and a morale boost ahead of their attempt to turn around the tie in Tuesday’s semi-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund and reach the final at Wembley.
Real Madrid played the La Liga derby at the Vicente Calderon three days ahead of their Champions League semi-final second leg match. The match began in the worst possible way. A free-kick taken by Gabi to the 4th minute and, following a block from Diego Lopez, Godin picked up the rebound before crossing to Falcao, who finished with an easy header. Everything was against them from the start but the Whites don’t give up easily and equalised nine minutes later, also from a set piece. Di Maria’s shot, having been encharged with taking the free-kick, deflected off of Juanfran as it was in flight and beat Courtois.
The derby was back as it began. The midfield battle became the story of the match and possession of the ball passed from one team to the other, both suggesting that the evenness of the contest was set to stay. Even if the balance could have been tipped with five minutes remaining of the intense first half. A great piece of skill from Di Maria left Benzema with a one-on-one against Courtois. The Belgian goalkeeper was sharper than the French forward in the clearest chance from open play. Everything was to be decided in the last 45 minutes that the Whites would go into with four players on yellow cards: Albiol, Morata, Pepe and Khedira.
The first half ended with a Benzema one-on-one but the second half began with a chance for home side. The play between Gabi and Diego Costa in the 56th minute ended with a bad first-time shot from inside the six-yard box. It was just a preview to the away team’s second goal, which would silence the Vicente Calderon crowd. Benzema gave the assist for Di Maria who scored with a precise shot into the far corner, putting his team ahead in the 63rd minute. Mourinho then decided bring on Xabi Alonso for Kaka. More muscle and control of the game in the midfield. Halfway through the second half, Essien made way for Varane.
From then on, the Whites were able to contain any hint of danger from the home team, got their sixth straight win at the Vicente Calderon and also their twelfth match undefeated in the red and white team’s stadium (only three have been draws). A morale boost ahead of their attempt to turn around the tie in Tuesday’s semi-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund and reach the final at Wembley.