Real Madrid all but ended Atletico Madrid’s title hopes after beating their rivals 2-1 at the Wandametropolitano on Sunday evening.
The buildup to the match was centered around off-field issues after a Spanish agent allegedly made racist remarks about Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr, whom he ordered to stop “acting like a monkey.”
The football world, particular current and ex-Brazilian players, came out to condemn the comments and show support for the 22-year-old.
Pele wrote on an Instagram post: “Football is joy. It’s a dance. Although, unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected.”
The Brazilian icon’s words were not taken seriously as Atletico fans behaved appallingly in the hours leading up to the game, chanting “you are a monkey, Vinicius” outside the Wanda.
However, Atleti fans were left eating their words as Vinicius’ Brazilian teammate Rodrygo found the net within the opening 20 minutes, doing Vini’s dance celebration in front of the watching Atletico eyes.
Real Madrid doubled their lead soon after following a goal from Uruguay International Federico Valverde. The versatile 24-year-old found the ball fall to him to in the six-yard box after a searing run from Vinicius that ended up with an effort hitting the post before falling to Valverde.
Atletico centre back Mario Hermosa pulled one back for Diego Simeone’s men in the 83rd minute, giving the fans hope of a potential comeback. However, the hope was shortlived as Hermosa got himself sent off for a second yellow.
In the end, Real held on for a tight 2-1 win, as predicted.
Despite Carlo Ancelotti’s men having less shots and possession than their counterparts, Real were clinical on the break, even without star man Karim Benzema, who missed the game after picking up a knock in their Champions League win over Celtic last week.
Los Blancos have now won every game they’ve played this season, winning 8 games on the spin. Even more impressive considering Benzema has missed the last few fixtures as well.
As for Atletico, pressure will be mounting on Simeone after their poor start to the season effectively rules them out of the title race as early as mid-September. Los Colchoneros have only won half of their 8 matches in all competition thus far.
The return of Club football in October after the international break sees Atletico face another tough test as they travel to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to face Sevilla, who have started this season even worse after winning just one La Liga game thus far, sitting in 15th position in the standings. European champions Real Madrid host Osasuna next as they aim to continue their 100% start to the current campaign. Los Blancos will also be hoping to see Benzema return to the pitch after missing the last few weeks through injury.