It was a beautiful evening at Metlife stadium where we had the pleasure of watching not only two of Spain’s powerhouses but also two of the best in the world. Both teams started a strong line up as both clubs are coming into pre-season form after a busy transfer window which saw them spending 100 million euros respectively on Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) and Eden Hazard (Real Madrid).
From the first whistle, the crowd could tell that this was not just a pre-season game and Atletico’s talisman Diego Costa showed that in the first minute. Costa came through with a clinical finish after new boy Joao Felix set him up. Atletico didn’t waste any time and quickly stomped the authority on the game by doubling the lead through Felix with an assist by Saul. Real tried to settle the game to their face but Koke punished them on the break by setting up Angel Correa to make it 3-0. At this point, Real had no answer to Atletico’s quick transition from defense to offense and quickly made it four through Costa again. Costa was not done and was determined to get his hat-trick which came through a penalty which he made no mistake in converting.
The second half started with both teams making changes with the most notable change coming from Real Madrid who went with more experience and replaced Vinicius with Lucas Vasquez. Los Blancos quickly tried to pull one back to no avail with Atletico catching them on the break. A free-kick went to Felix who played a superb pass to break the line for Costa to chip goalkeeper Jesus Navas to make it 6-0 and his fourth goal of the night.
At this point, Felix just slotted right in and looked like he was bought for cheap. Eden Hazard, who is playing down the left-wing, combined with Marcelo who tried a brilliant bicycle kick which hit the side netting. Marcelo and Hazard started the second half lively and linked up well. Madrid started to take a hold of the game in the 58th minute and it paid off as Benzema’s header deflected for a corner which the ensuing corner saw Nacho pull one back to make it 6-1.
In the 60th minute, Madrid took the chance to make several substitutions, most notable Kubo and the Brazilian prodigy Rodgrygo. It didn’t take long into the second half to be reminded of how big of a rivalry this game is as Costa, who already scored four goals, went in with a nasty challenge on Carvajal in retaliation to his earlier challenge on Lemar. Both benches cleared as refs and coaches had to separate the players which resulted in Costa and Carvajal seeing red.
The intensity grew in the second half and the quality of the passes got better. Gareth Bale, who is the middle of a transfer saga, made his way onto the pitch to try and convince Zidane that he deserves to stay after Asesenio’s injury. Atletico was not done and seemed to be the fitter team. Vitolo, who was a big-money signing from last season, made a beautiful run down the left side after starting in his own half, before cutting inside and putting his well-placed shot past Navas to make it 7-1. Atletico looked miles ahead of their rivals, in midseason form, and created countless chances.
Gareth Bale almost pulled one back for Real when he dribbled down the left wing before rifling one of his trademark left-footed shots just wide of the far post. Nacho drew a penalty in the 85th minute and Benzema converted it for another consolation goal. Kubo forced Atletico’s keeper into a fine save which allowed Javi Hernandez to score to make it 7-3, which is how the match would end. Both teams showed flashes of brilliance but Atletico deserved the win.
Photo: Courtesy of ATM social media