An improvement without a future: here is the image that haunted the socios of Real Madrid when the White House cracked again, three days after a success against a background of controversy in the Clasico (3-1). But the Merengue had a burst of pride, a real one, to snatch a draw with the flavor of a victory (2-2) at the end of a match where they will have set foot in the grudge against an opponent much more consistent than Barça, which has nothing more than a yardstick.
Real are coming back from nowhere
It will be necessary to remember the great performance of Marcus Thuram, son of a former friend of Zinédine Zidane – the chance of a football’s life. From the top of his 23 years, the French striker had almost taken care of everything to improve Borussia’s plan. It was he who unblocked the situation after half an hour of play by taking a tense cross from Alassane Pléa, the other Frenchie of the German formation (1-0, 33rd). And it is he, again, who took a ball badly repelled by Thibaut Courtois on a dry strike from the same Pléa (2-0, 58th).
But it was without counting on the revolt of the men of Zinédine Zidane – a trainer who does not walk alone in the storm. After the entry into play of a finally sharp Hazard, the Madrilenians have found the mental resources to resurface on the wire. Once again, Karim Benzema will be credited with the best score thanks to his victorious return for the reduction of the score (1-2, 87th). The goal of hope, before that of release signed Casemiro, at the end of the night, served by a still decisive Ramos (2-2, 90th + 3). Real Madrid are still alive. It was necessary, before challenging Inter, another scarecrow in difficulty after its draw against Donetsk (0-0). These last five days will be foundational for the future.
Liverpool at a slow trot
In Group D, another recent winner, Liverpool, has a much quieter course before the big passes. Jürgen Klopp offered himself the luxury of reshuffling his team in large proportions for what was like the easiest match of this first round, against the modest Danes of FC Midtjylland (2-0). As against Ajax, the English champion did not display a flaming face. We even had to wait for the second act and a high-level collective movement concluded by the young Jota to see the Reds go ahead (1-0, 55th). Entered into play, Mohamed Salah then made the break in the last seconds from the penalty spot (2-0, 90th + 3). Sober and efficient. Nothing more.
We had to expect a slightly more unbridled meeting in the other match of this group D, where the ball is always pampered. Atalanta and Ajax fought an exciting fight (2-2). Bergamo could have emerged victorious, to the point, but the Dea lacked realism in the two areas of truth. Ajax even took the lead by exploiting rather gross errors in the first half, Tadic opening the scoring on a penalty caused by Lassina Traoré (0-1, 30th), himself a scorer in the wake after a blunder by Marco Sportiello (0-2, 38th). But Atalanta remains Atalanta. Gasperini’s men have recovered to equalize in two stages, three movements with a double from Zapata (54th, 60th). All these beautiful people had their chance in a crazy last half hour, but the score has not changed (2-2). With 4 points, Atalanta is behind Liverpool in this “group of the game.”
It should also be noted the reaction of Atlético de Madrid after its debacle in Munich. The Simeone gang forced their nature – no one will complain – to overcome a tough Salzburg team (3-2). Marcus Llorente opened the scoring before the Colchoneros conceded two goals in quick succession. It was the young and very dear Joao Felix who played the saviors by offering himself a brace in the second half. Finally, in the OM group, Porto overcame Olympiakos (2-0) to replace themselves and leave the Marseille club alone in fourth. More than this classification, which is only a photograph, it is the impressions left by each other that call for a sad observation: for the moment, OM is not invited to the ball.