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Julen Lopetegui analyzes the derby and explains why he chose Vinicius Jr to come on ahead of Mariano.

Real Madrid fails to get a win against Atletico Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu yet again. The winless home draught of league derby games now extends to 6 games with last victory coming in 2013. 

Published By: Dalipinder Singh Sandhu (Bliss)

Julen Lopetegui’s side dominated the game but failed to break the deadlock as Atletico Madrid forced the game to end in a 0-0 draw. The coach of Real Madrid believes that his side was well in control of the game and just lacked the efficiency in the final third to get the desired win.

“We didn’t win the game simply because we didn’t manage to score, but overall, I think that we were by far the better side, particularly in the second half, in which we created several chances. After the break (half time), we managed to pin Atlético back into their own half, overcame adversity and delivered a good performance. However, if you don’t score, you don’t win football matches.”

Even though Real Madrid were denied a victory they still share the top spot in the LaLiga raking with FC Barcelona. The Catalan club has gone without a victory for past 3 LaLiga games. Julen Lopetegui noted the positives from the game and analyzed the performance.

“I take some big positives from tonight’s game. Atlético is very good at counter-attacking and as a result of us losing possession, they posed a threat a few times in the first half, just as we did. When faced with difficulty, the team stood tall and improved, having had a days’ less rest and with some absentees, and showed character and personality. We played well but failed to get the goal to make our dominance tell.”

One of the new signings which Real Madrid made this season was handed his LaLiga debut last night. The young Brazilian sensation Vinicius Jr came on in the 88th minute for Karim Benzema. However, the fans did welcome the 19-year old but many of them were expecting Mariano Diaz to make an appearance instead. Lopetegui explains his reason for choosing to send in Vinicius Jr.

“We brought Vinicius Jr. on to exploit his pace. All of the players entered the final stages looking short of energy and we could hurt them with our pace. We introduced some quick players up top and it was a shame that we didn’t manage to convert our chances. I don’t pay attention to what the fans were calling for. We make the changes thinking about what the team and the match needs. Today required speed and that is why we went for Vinicius Jr.”

As FC Barcelona continue to drop points to sides like Girona, Bilbao, and Leganes. Real Madrid, on the other hand, failed to capitalize on the advantage by losing to Sevilla and drawing to Atletico Madrid and Bilbao. This keeps the title race alive with both the big guns finding it difficult to cruise past the initial games. Lopetegui claimed that he isn’t concerned about his rival’s performance as he focuses to improve his own team.

“Each match is a conquest for everyone. LaLiga is competitive and long for everyone, and every game is extremely difficult. We don’t focus on the opposition, we know that it’ll be a long road and a difficult one. There’s a long way to go and we have to give our all, like in the second half today. I don’t think it’s a two-team league.”

Julen Lopetegui also applauded Atletico Madrid and their coach Diego Simeone. The Rojablancas have been playing under the same coach since 2011 which gives them the continuity and rhythm with a set and gelled in ideology. Something which is in contrast to Real Madrid who just changed their coach and is in the transition period for they have been changing the style of play from counter-attacking to possession play.

“Atlético are a team settled in the elite of football, they’ve made incredible signings and retained top players and have a spectacular squad. That’s why I’m satisfied because we’ve been superior to a great team. It’s true that we haven’t scored many goals in recent games. The numbers are there to see. But, apart for the first half in Seville, the attitude has been good and we’ve put in a good performance, playing great football and creating chances. The goals will come. We’ve had chances and they will come.”

During the halftime, there was a surprise change by Real Madrid who brought on Dani Ceballos for Gareth Bale. Lopetegui claims this wasn’t a tactical change.

“Bale had discomfort in his adductor at half-time and as a precaution, he didn’t come out for the second half. We will test him tomorrow and we’ll see.”

The Spanish club who now has Isco and Marcelo ruled out for nearly 3 weeks will have to look for solutions as their tight schedule continues. They will face CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League group stage fixture on Tuesday, 2nd October 2018. The match will be played in Luzhnikhi Stadium, the same venue which hosted the FIFA World Cup Final 2018. The kick-off is scheduled for 21:00 CET.

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