A highly structured CSKA Moscow overcame European giants Real Madrid in a famous night in Russia. Just the one goal was enough to see off Madrid, who struck the woodwork three times.
Luka Modric had a nightmare return to Russia, losing again in the stadium where Croatia’s World Cup dream was destroyed.
Lacklustre Madrid Lose to Ten Man CSKA Moscow
Early Start Allowed CSKA to Stick Men Behind the Ball
CSKA started their impossible mission to overcome Real Madrid in amazing fashion. They scored just one minute into the game after a major error from Tony Kroos. Nikola Vlasic pounced on the poor pass back but still had work to do.
He had great composure on the ball and slotted the ball into the bottom right that left Keylor Navas rooted to his spot. This rapid start to the game saw CSKA playing like Real Madrid which left home fans bouncing up and down for 90 minutes.
Madrid Dominance Lacked Final Product
Real Madrid settled into the game after ten minutes and they controlled possession of the ball. Despite this, CSKA took advantage of Real Madrid’s frustration and fouled tactically to get under the skin of the players. Champions League debutant Sergio Reguilon was on the receiving end of most of the fouls.
The Krasno-Sinai had one game plan after their early goal – defend, defend, defend. That’s what they did tremendously throughout the game, especially in the second half.
Despite their defensive set up, CSKA continued to counter well, probing the last third continuously. They created enough chances to be two or three goals ahead in the first half. Alarm bells were ringing in the heart of defence for Madrid.
Madrid replied to the counter attacks by keeping the ball well. One and two touch football ensured CSKA couldn’t retrieve the ball. However, their highly structured defence meant that every attack fizzled out pretty quickly.
Madrid’s first full attempt came after a searching corner from the German Kroos that nearly found the back of the net. A solid hack away from the defender ensured the home team kept the lead. After this Real Madrid had shot after shot.
CSKA Counter Attack Troubled Defence
Many fans will be going home thinking that on another night they would have won. Striking the woodwork three times was a sign that tonight wasn’t their night.
Just as my preview suggested, CSKA relied on counter-attacking football. Madrid seemed unprepared for this and struggled to handle the pace of the attack. They committed many defenders forward which left big holes for attacks. Figueira Fernandes was the key for counter attacks as he charged through the gaps left by Madrid players.
Key defender Chernov had an amazing game blocking Karim Benzema in every attack. He was hot on his heels permanently throughout the match, meaning Benzema struggled to get into the game. He snatched at any chances that he had, and Akinfeev was relatively untested.
There seemed to be no real driving force in the team with the absence of Gareth Bale. The void Ronaldo left doesn’t seem to have been filled. 31% ball possession and only four attempts compared to Real Madrid’s 14 showed how much Real dominated the first half. despite dominance there was no clinical finish from the attacking players.
The constant drumming by the fans certainly helped the team remember they have the support of a whole city.
Modric Hoped He Could Seal a Victory
Modric and Diaz came on an hour in hoping they can be the difference in this tight game. The pace of Mariano and the dictatorship for Modric seemed to be the perfect tactic to get three points. Madrid’s tempo nearly doubled after the pair joined the field. Every attack seemed to go through the Croatian, but to no prevail.
CSKA continued to drop deeper and deeper into their own box which invited Real Madrid to attack with more prowess. Not the most entertaining display of football from the Russian side, but a completely understandable tactic against such powerful opponents.
The ball struck the post for the third time in the 88th minute. Mariano Diaz jumped two feet above any other player before hitting the woodwork. It was reminiscent of the old number seven and the aerial abilities he possessed. Many fans will be wishing that Ronaldo was on the end of the inch-perfect Kroos cross. As each second ticked away it seemed as if the Russians would be top of the group by the end of the night.
Akinfeev Sees Red Minutes Before the Final Whistle
The biggest shock of the game was Igor Akinfeev’s double booking for descent. Seconds away from his second clean sheet in 47 Champions League games and he wasn’t there to see it out. This was a dramatic end to a dramatic match which saw Moscow hold out for their biggest win in recent years.
Five hours without a goal for Real Madrid probes the question, who can produce the goals that Ronaldo was so famous for? In all the attempts the Spanish team had, Akinfeev was only tested a couple of times. Perhaps they missed Bale and Isco more than they thought as Benzema failed to make an impact.