In the 88th minute, between the desperate offense of Real Madrid and the defensive resistance of Atlético de Madrid, Karim Benzema maintained that there is still a League, that there is still much to compete to define the champion of the tournament, with the 1-1 of a derby won by the rojiblanco team, still leading.
Neither of them won, if anything, Barcelona, which is three points behind Atlético, which still has to play its postponement against Athletic Club on Wednesday, and two over Real Madrid, against the ropes for more than an hour, without a single clear chance until, on insistence, he rescued at least one point.
And he survived in the championship, when it seemed that it was not going to be his business, supported first by Thibaut Courtois at the beginning of the second half, as much a hero of the draw as Benzema was, amid the frustration of Atlético, who lost ground minute by minute. minute to finish in his territory, exposed to what finally happened.
He commanded from minute 15 with the 1-0 that Marcos Llorente invented. It is pure overflow. By speed, by power and by determination. The ’14’ never doubts. Every play is an opportunity for him, wherever it is, wherever the ball is, even if it seems that he has no advantage in the throw, like the divided ball with which he built Atlético’s 1-0.
He started from inside right, but he is extreme, means of containment, forward or whatever he proposes every moment. By faith and speed, Llorente won that ball that Trippier had given him adjusted – back after exceeding 10 weeks of sanction. And by vision and pause, then, he endured the unchecking of Luis Suárez to make the goal available to him, which would not have been such without his perfect, unstoppable definition, at the height of his incontestable dimension.
A resolution of the scorer who is the Uruguayan ‘9’, who is always there, even in his worst rojiblanco streak – the five crashes he was currently going through. It always resurfaces. There is no better example than the goal, at a quarter of an hour. As soon as he received he envisioned the placement of Courtois to overcome him with the outside of his right foot.
There is no doubt of the merit in such an action, which also discovered the imbalances of Real Madrid in an improper way of an aspiring to everything as he should be every year. The apparent simplicity with which Atlético overflowed its pressure above and made it 1-0 put the white team in evidence, against the current from the beginning.
In the first half, Atlético disarmed him due to the initial high pressure, overcame him with the forcefulness of the goal and controlled it with precision, beyond a couple of threats from Benzema, ready in the eleven, and a volley from Casemiro. The rojiblanco team had not felt so confident with the ball for a long time. And it was a long time since Madrid had so much difficulty recovering in the opposite field.
But the derby is always in the smallest margin of the smallest detail. It could have been the penalty that Real Madrid claimed for a hand from Felipe -as a result of his first corner, back in the 39th minute-. The VAR reviewed it and invited the referee Hernández Hernández to see the play on the monitor at the foot of the field: he did not consider it a maximum penalty.
It is the closest Real Madrid came to the goal in an hour, blurred, stuck offensively, between the pretense of 1-1 and the ineffectiveness of a flat, predictable attack, without overflow, but above all turned off by the management exerted by the Athletic with and without the ball; still without any guarantee for him, because 45 minutes is a long time, even more in a derby, even more with Real Madrid.
With the essential nuance that they played what Atlético wanted until game time, perhaps more, within the parameters that he had pre-established, Real Madrid re-emerged in the final stretch, although the reality is that he was their goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, the one who kept him alive at the start of the second half, especially against Yannick Carrasco.
Between 2-0 and 1-0, even with what was left in the game, more than half an hour, there is a tremendously substantial difference in a duel of this type. For this reason, the Belgian goalkeeper’s stop to his compatriot was much more than that, due to the complexity of the individual duel he won, but mainly because of the collective value.
With that intervention, also without the one he made moments later to Luis Suárez, in another play by Carrasco, or without the nonsense that Correa finished off later, Real Madrid dodged the 2-0, while transmitting the complexity of beating the local defense and , in his area, he breathed relieved with the partial forgiveness of Atlético.
Without Courtois, there would no longer be a league for Real Madrid. With the. And with Benzema, also perhaps because of the step back again from the rojiblanco team, yes there is. The first two were stopped, gigantic, by Jan Oblak; the next, already in 88, was transformed by the French striker at 1-1, in the tie with which he survives in the championship.