Real Madrid kick-started another title defence in perfect fashion in a scoreline that really didn’t reflect the quality of the game. The reigning Champions won 3-0 against a slow and sluggish Roma. Madrid had over three times the amount of attempts on goal than their visitors, a statistic that highlights the dominance of the Spanish side.
Real Madrid Ease to Victory Over Roma
Keeper Olsen Only Player to Turn Up
Robin Olsen was to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable for Roma, after numerous saves. The best came early on after Isco made a darting run and was found well by Luka Modric. Olsen was quick of his line to block the shot and keep the game scoreless. He also kept Marco Asensio from scoring after a terrific piece of skill mid-way through the second half.
Despite his best efforts, Olsen was beaten three times, once in the first half and twice in the second. Isco showed that Lionel Messi that he isn’t the only free-kick specialist with a cheeky dink over the wall in the 45th minute. Olsen was left rooted to the spot as the ball bulged in the back of the net. Surprisingly, this meant that Isco was the first Spanish player to score a free-kick in the Champions League for Real Madrid.
Madrid Showed Their Class With Three Great Goals
The late first-period goal meant that Roma had to push forward more after the break. This was perfect for Real Madrid as Roma’s higher lines allowed the pace of Gareth Bale to run behind the defenders and open up the game more.
Roma were lucky not to be behind by four in the first half after Real Madrid threatened their box for the majority of the half. Roma’s defence was often caught napping, but Madrid failed to punish the visitors until late on.
It looked like it wasn’t the Welshman’s night after missing a handful of chances. He had a shot deflected onto the crossbar, which is the closest he came for 50 minutes. However, his persistence paid off, scoring in the 57th minute. Modric slid the ball into his path perfectly. His first touch angled him into the box and he drilled it into the far corner to double the lead. His pace was too much for Roma’s high line, who were left to watch Bale slot in Madrid’s second.
Bale was soon replaced by Mariano Diaz, who recently re-joined Real Madrid through a buy-back clause. He made the perfect return on his second debut for the famous club with a superb finish from 20-yards out, gliding the ball into the far post. Marcelo made light work of playing him in before a well-timed cut back let the ball fall into the perfect position for Diaz to rocket the ball into the net.
Julen’s Super Subs Highlight Squad Depth
Marco Asensio also looked fantastic as a substitute for Karim Benzema, who had a quiet game. This injection of pace weakened the defence further. Asensio came close twice to opening up his goal scoring campaign in the Champions League.
Not only did the two substitutes help Real Madrid secure a vital three points, but it also proved that they have outstanding squad depth. Maybe life without Ronaldo won’t be as tough as it first seemed, with many past fringe players bursting onto the scene to replace the void.
Despite Madrid’s onslaught in the second half, Roma did have a few chances of their own. Edin Dzeko had the best chance, heading the ball downwards towards Keylor Navas. He forced a great save down to his near post.
Dzeko had an opportunity to be played through to get a goal back, but the ball was held up for too long. Sergio Ramos was able to make the tackle and the attack fizzled out. Kolarov also had a frustrated shot at goal. However, the quality of the shot was matched by the keeper who made a spectacular diving save.
Roma Should Still Qualify
Despite losing the opening game, all hope is not lost for qualification. The other match in the group ended 2-2 so Roma only trail by one point and have already played the most difficult opponents in the group.
Eusebio Di Francesco will be hoping his team can pick their heads up after a difficult start to the season in all competitions. He will be hoping to pick up points against Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow. He will be determined to rectify the issues tonight when the two sides meet again in a few weeks’ time.
As for Julen Lopetegui, he will be pleased with how well his team performed tonight. Despite the 3-0 victory, Lopetegui will be looking for his players to take even more chances in the future games. This fixture could have easily been five or 6-0.