It hasn’t even been two months yet but the signing of Caroline Weir by Real Madrid seems to be a match made in heaven. In the 13th minute of the UEFA Women’s Champions League game against Rosenborg BK Kvinner, Weir popped up with what we have come to expect from her as her regular ‘golazo’. Real Madrid had been peppering away at Rosenburg’s goal, with Esther González testing Lene Christensen in goal on more than one occasion.
It took a moment of brilliance from Weir for all of that Real Madrid pressure to finally tell, as she combined with Athenea del Castillo to score the opening goal of the game. We’ll go into depth more later about the understanding Weir has developed with her teammates but for now, it seems like Caroline Weir fits Real Madrid like a glove and this is just the beginning of what could be an iconic partnership between the Scot and Las Blancas.
Last season, Real Madrid’s chief creator was Kosovare Asllani but with the Swede leaving at the end of the season for Italy, the hierarchy at Real Madrid knew they needed to find a player to only fill in the sizeable gap left by Asllani but also, if possible, produce even more from the position, They sounded out Caroline Weir and she agreed to come to Madrid as soon as she could. Weir hasn’t missed a beat since joining her new club and after scoring the only goal against her former team Manchester City, in the previous round, it was clear to anyone who’s watched her progress with the team that Caroline Weir is a “galactica” in the making.
After helping with possession and finding pockets of space in and around the penalty area, despite lining up on the right, Weir showed great tactical awareness to capitalise on how Rosenborg couldn’t keep track of her movement.
Athenea, who’s star continues to rise, danced by her defender before picking out Weir near the edge of the area. She could’ve easily taken a touch there to steady herself and then shoot but Caroline Weir has a majestic left foot and she trusted her technique enough to hit the ball first time towards goal. The result was a fantastic first-time effort into the corner of the net. Her run, her understanding of where the space was and the ability to strike the ball on the run without breaking stride are all elements of Caroline Weir’s game that make her one of the best midfielders around.
Real Madrid would go on to win by three goals, with Weir getting her second and Athenea getting on the scoresheet but what makes this current Real Madrid so much fun to watch is how Weir has integrated herself into this team’s style of play and how quickly she’s done it.
Caroline Weir is not a new name to anyone who’s watched the FA Women’s Super League in particular. During her time with Manchester City, Weir showed great ability on and off the ball, as well as a willingness to put in a shift defensively as well when needed. Not only can she create further up the pitch, especially in front of goal, but she can drop back and receive the ball from her defenders, turn away from any would-be marker and stride forward to affect the game in whatever way she can.
The best way to see just how effective Weir has been with Real Madrid is to try and track her movement throughout a match. Whether she starts in the middle or out wide, she’s reading the game faster than her opponents and figuring out how to keep being productive near the area no matter where she starts off. It’s small things like that, her reading of where the spaces are and how she can exploit them without being noticed by the opposition, that have stood out with Weir during the start of her time at Real Madrid.
The key thing that has stood for me during the first few months of Caroline Weir’s time in Madrid is the understanding she’s developed with not only her usual striker ahead, Esther but with Athenea and Claudia Zornoza, Sandie Toletti or Teresa Abelleira (depending on who Alberto Toril starts in midfield). Most players take time to adapt to a new country, a new culture, a new team and a new language but it seems almost effortless for Weir right now and it’s paying off massively for Real Madrid in turn. Her connection with Athenea in particular against Rosenborg was key to unlocking the host’s backline and giving Real Madrid a comfortable first leg result.
As seen during the first goal, Weir immediately starts running and calling for the ball once Athenea beats her defender, knowing that if the winger sees her, she’ll be able to find her with a pass and that’s exactly what happens. The pass from Athenea seems to be too far ahead from Zornoza who’s the immediate runner for Athenea but its path takes it directly to Weir who curls it in beautifully for the opening goal. Weir continued to probe Rosenborg’s defensive sturdiness and while she didn’t notch an assist this time around, her positioning found her scoring two goals on the day.
Let’s circle back to that first goal.
As you can see, Caroline Weir actually speeds up as she comes on to the ball but she positions her body at the right angle over the ball to not have to break stride while also hitting in perfectly towards goal.
That’s not an easy feat by any means and while we do see players do this, we don’t see it happen often in the women’s game. Weir is one of the few midfielders who will not only try that kind of shot but she does it with the knowledge that she’s scored goals like that before, with regularity. The opportunity to not only catch defenders off guard but the goalkeeper as well with a first-time shot is always a positive for any player and on this occasion, it created the breakthrough that Real Madrid had come close to finding from almost the first whistle.
While her second of the day may not have been as impressive from an individual standpoint, it does highlight once again the understanding she’s developed with her teammates in under two months.
Athenea has the ball once again at her feet and she looks up to see Weir crashing at the back post. She floats in a great cross that Weir knocks in from close range to give Real Madrid a comfortable first leg advantage.
While the cross itself was a fantastic piece of skill from Athenea, once again you have to highlight how much of a connection Weir and Athenea have developed since their first training session together. As time goes on, that connection is going to be even more potent and even if teams try to shut it down, the connections Weir has formed with Esther, Zornoza and Toletti make Real Madrid a formidable force going forward.
Who knows just how far Real Madrid will go in the Champions League this year but wherever they end up, Caroline Weir will be an important fulcrum for their success. The more she continues to build chemistry with her teammates, the more game-changing she will become. Imagine that; an even more effective Weir than the one Madridistas have seen so far. It’s enough to get even a neutral observer of the Spanish game excited.