Three thirty-somethings pushed Real Madrid to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, a round they haven’t smelled for three seasons. Modric, Sergio Ramos and Benzema helped tame Atalanta’s initial momentum and punished their stupid mistakes. So, with the clash over, it was time to claim his age, ambition and weight in the team at a time when the first two are in negotiations to renew and with one foot in the air.
“When you have been taking care of yourself for so long, sowing, you end up harvesting. No one can be judged by a DNI. People must value performance, “warned the captain, 34, who again noted that there was no news about his future. The Croatian, whom the Sevillian embraced effusively at the end of the game in the changing room tunnel, seconded the message from the pack boss: “You don’t have to look at the years. The important thing is what the player does on the field, not the passport. I feel good. I still want to compete at the highest level and I work every day to achieve it. Today we show that there is still a lot of hunger and that the team wants to keep winning ”. The allegation was supported by Zidane. “Luka [Modric] He is 35 years old, but in the field it is not noticed. And Sergio is our leader. You better be with us. They are hungry and want to continue making history ”, the white coach signed.
The two of them plus Benzema (33 years old) were decisive in dispatching the Bergamascos. Modric and the French striker cooked the 1-0 with the collaboration of Sportiello. The Balkan took advantage of the gift of the rival goalkeeper, he gave it to the nine white, who scored his 70th goal in the Champions League. He is one of Raúl González and is the fifth footballer to reach this record in the competition. The list is headed by Cristiano (135), Messi (120) and Lewandowski (72). The verduguillo to the Italians was put by Ramos, who scored his twentieth penalty in a row with Madrid, this time adjusting to the goalkeeper’s right post. “Today Panenka was not the most suitable option,” he added with a smile. The center-back, absent in the return matches of the last two European eliminations (Ajax and City), ended the game by hugging all his teammates one by one.
For the second consecutive clash, Ramos found himself wrapped in a defense of three centrals, a tactical solution that ZZ increasingly uses. Without Casemiro, sanctioned, that was the option chosen by the French to shelter Courtois. “We have players and, from time to time, we can do it,” said the French coach laconically, little given to go into depth about the drawings and decisions.
“Sometimes we lack a player higher up, but we can afford it to have more control,” Ramos analyzed about this scheme. “The first minutes we were in doubt because we didn’t know how they were going to push. Ultimately, you depend on the other team’s approach. But we resolved quickly. They did not have clear chances, “added the Sevillian.
Zidane, always attentive to assessing the defensive cut, stressed that his team hardly suffered behind against an opponent who usually runs out of control in attack. “Today we did not see that,” said the Frenchman. “From start to finish, we did not lower our guard. When we are like this, we are hard to beat. Atalanta is a team that demands a lot physically. We interpreted the game well in defense and in attack we had good feelings. When you have opportunities and you put in, perfect ”, the white coach congratulated himself after several weeks living to the limit and saving the games on the bell.
Offensive production is often an ordeal for Madrid, especially in recent times. “The teams come here to close behind,” Benzema protested last Saturday after suffering the defensive rigors of Elche. Quite the opposite of the European duel on Tuesday. Atalanta’s eagerness and offensive vocation disturbed Real Madrid for the first 25 minutes, highly demanded by the high pace of the old Colonel Gasperini’s soldiers, but the Italian plan had a crack that the whites were delighted to appreciate. Frequently penalized in the league against very close behinds, the Bergamo momentum left them gaps through which to reach the rival goal. Out in the open, Zidane’s boys felt liberated to run and look closer to the goal, often an elusive element for them. Few thanked him more than Vinicius, who was in his power to deploy in slalom like a skier. Another thing was his wisdom in the face of the opposite framework.
A day of relief and escalation that Hazard, once again injured and wondering which treatment is the best at this point of medical torture, continued from home with Zidane’s authorization not to go to Valdebebas.