Sports Monks

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid: 5 game-changing moments

Coming back from the international break, Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao in a highly entertaining contest at the San Mames. Iker Munain gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the first half before Isco came off the bench and equalized immediately for his team.4

Both the teams failed to get the winner and ended up splitting the points. With this, Real Madrid have dropped two points and are second in the table with 10 points in four games while Atheltic are fourth with five points from three games.

Let us take a look at five game-changing moments from the match.

#5 Unai Simon, the saviour

One of the main reasons why Bilbao managed to hold Real Madrid for a draw was the performance of their goalkeeper Unai Simon. Just like last year when Kepa Arrizabalega denied Real Madrid a win against Bilbao, Simon played out of his skin, made some fantastic saves to salvage a point for his side.

Two of his best saves from the match came off the boots of Marco Asensio. First, Asensio fired in a shot from the edge of the box and Simon dived full stretch to deny the Spanish wonderkid a goal in the first half.

In the second half, Asensio did well to get a beautiful first touch to a long ball from the defence and was one-on-one against the goalkeeper. He tried to chip the ball over Simon but the goalkeeper did well to stop the ball from going in.

If he continues to play the way he is playing, Bilbao won't be missing the services of Kepa as they have unearthed a gem in Simon.
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Karim Benzema's forgetful night

Going into the match, Karim Benzema was the league's top scorer with four goals in three match and a lot was expected off Real Madrid's target man. But, the Frenchman disappointed everyone as he was up against two aggressive center-backs and tried his best to do what he does the best, holding the ball and let the other forwards do the talking.

But, he was kept quiet up front and when he got a golden chance to score two goals, he failed to make the most of it as he wasted both the chances. First, after Marco Asensio's one-on-one shot was saved by Unai Simon, the ball went straight to Benzema, who volleyed it into the crowd.

In the 90th minute, Asensio got the ball in his own half, dribbled past three-four Bilbao players and played a good pass to Benzema inside the box and instead of taking a shot at the goal, the Frenchman passed it to the wings and eventually lost possession.

That was a golden chance for Real Madrid as it could have given them a 2-1 lead had Benzema put the ball into the goal. He could have at least tried there as it was the best possible option for his team to earn a late winner.
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The substitution of Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale looked tired throughout the match as he was hardly involved in the attack for Real Madrid. He played 180 minutes for Wales in the UEFA Nations League and it looked like it took a toll on the Welshman.

In spite of that, he provided Isco with a fantastic cross off his weaker right foot from the right wing and the Spaniard was in the right position to bury the ball to the back of the net with a strong header.

Soon after, he was taken off with more than five minutes left to play in regulation time and his replacement, Lucas Vasquez literally offered nothing to Real Madrid who were pushing for a win. Bale could have carried on or Mariano Diaz should have been given a chance ahead of Lucas towards the end of the match as Los Blancos were in need of a goal when the substitution took place.
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Impact substitutions from Real Madrid

After going down in the first half, Real Madrid needed some motivation to overturn the deficit and continue their unbeaten run in the league. Manager Julen Lopeteugi decided to give Dani Ceballos a start ahead of Casemiro and the youngster was the best midfielder on the pitch for Real Madrid with both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric playing.

Still, he was taken off at half-time and Casemiro was brought on to add more stability to the side. The Brazilian did well from the moment he came on as he was everywhere on the pitch and was very accurate with his passes.

Just after the one hour mark, Modric, who was still looking tired, was replaced by Isco and the Spaniard responded with the equalizer a few moments later. Both Casemiro and Isco played well for Madrid and sent a message to their manager while the third substitution, Lucas Vasquez was not up to the mark.
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Iker Muniain goal

In the first half, Real Madrid's defence was caught napping as Oscar de Marcos ran through the right wing and offered a pass past Raphael Varane to Inaki Williams right in front of the goal and the striker just deflected the ball towards the goal.

There was no Real Madrid defender to mark the forward and when Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric tried to stop the ball from going in, Iker Munain buried the ball into the goal from a close range to give his side the lead.

Even if Munain had not got the touch, the ball was going in but his touch ensured that he got his name on the scoresheet. This gave Bilbao players a lot of confidence and they defended their heart out and earned a point for their team.

 

 

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