Real who? They played with a swagger and an expectation, we played with attitude and a plan, a strategy that brought us a well-deserved win.
By the end their swagger was reduced to squabbling, we’d really got under their skin.
Real have some beautiful players, Isco, Modric, Ronaldo and occasionally Kroos all shone in patches but how many of the rest of them would actually get in our side? Certainly not Casemiro, Ramos, Benzema or Nacho or indeed the keeper as despite being clattered by Ramos to the point where it appeared he may have to come off, Hugo gave a master class in athleticism and safe handling. He needed to be at his best as well as despite the criticism Real are bound to receive for this performance, they had more than enough efforts on target to have won a game on another day. Not this day though.
We began nervously as Real immediately began moving the ball across our back line in an attempt to make openings but once we’d settled, Dele and Kane, with support from Eriksen, threatened to break into the space behind the visitors’ defence time and again. The way they lined up and pressed seemed almost reckless and when we scored it was far from our first attempt on goal.
After Alli turned in Trippier’s cross (put clear by a lovely crossfield pass from Winks – a goal made in England), we grew in belief. Ronaldo took the goal personally and got shots away from unlikely angles as is his way but he was also presented with a cutback straight to his feet about 15 yards out from which he fired his shot straight at Hugo. A big opportunity missed.
The Spanish fans – who filled only about three quarters of their allocation by the way – were only moderately boisterous at the start and grew even less so as the game went on, a few renditions of Y Viva Espana aside.
After Real showing sparks of life briefly the game reverted to its previous pattern of Madrid retaining possession, generally to little effect though they did get away down the flanks a couple of times, whilst we waited to pounce on the break. Dele Alli got the second after Dier’s quick pass allowed him to waltz past Casemiro twice and shoot in off Ramos. A few minutes later Alli and Kane took advantage of the empty plains in Spain to set up Eriksen who finished a one-on-one neatly with his left foot.
Dele should’ve made it four when he glanced a header wide from close range but he wasn’t the only one to have opportunities before cheeky chap Ronaldo buried a chance with ten minutes to go. The superb Kane went off and the remainder of the game was a tad nervy but we made it through.
What a night. The atmosphere was tremendous. Beating Real Madrid. Of course! It’d be more noteworthy if it wasn’t but this is the home away from home we love to hate so to make it our own in such a way was extra noteworthy. Daniel Taylor in the Guardian thought that he’d never heard such noise at this Wembley.
The confidence and belief grew amongst the players as the game evolved but Kane, Alli, Vertonghen and Dier at least all had it from the start. All four were superb as were Trippier, Lloris, Winks and Eriksen but to me it was Kane and Dier who stood out. Clearly unfit Harry led the line like he invented the concept. International players were just bouncing off him. He made two goals – he forced the throw-in that lead to the first and was like a man amongst boys in the Madrid defence.
Dier moved from midfield to the centre of the back three/five and led by example. As though the lapse in concentration was highest in his mind he took over the leadership of the defence and ensured everyone’s mind was on the job from start to finish.
We have a couple of weeks to dwell on this game before we go to Dortmund for potentially yet another free hit of a game. If we beat Apoel, we finish top of the group no matter what the result in Germany.
An epic evening. He’s magic you know?
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