Real Madrid’s clash against Almeria at the Power Horse Stadium on Saturday evening was a thrilling show of attacking football. Both sides had their moments, spells of possession, and spells under pressure, and thus provided a game rich with chances.
The hosts took the early lead on the night, ironically through ex-Real Madrid Castilla star Sergio Arribas. However, twin strikes from Jude Bellingham gave Real Madrid the lead by the hour mark.
Vinicius Jr buried the Merengues’ third goal on the night and guaranteed the win with less than 20 minutes to play.
Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Los Blancos’ trip to Almeria.
Andriy Lunin: 7
The Ukrainian international started ahead of the newly arrived Kepa Arrizabalaga and sprung up a decent performance.
He made four vital saves in the first half and was regularly called into action towards the end of the period. Could be better with his ball handling and clearances. Completed the game with seven saves including four from inside the box.
Dani Carvajal: 8
The full-back was often the starting point of several penetrative Real Madrid moves. Provided the assist for Toni Kroos’ screamer before half-time, but the goal was eventually ruled out for a foul by Carvajal.
The veteran was also splendid defensively and chipped in with multiple key challenges to deny Luis Suarez and Largie Ramazani. In attack, he was spectacular in his combinations with Valverde and Rodrygo.
Antonio Rudiger: 7.5
The German centre-back was everywhere for Real Madrid against Almeria. Could have done better to prevent the hosts’ early opening strike but came up clutch through the rest of the game.
David Alaba: 7
The Austrian defender was impressive in possession and did not do much wrong defensively. However, he was caught well out of position for Almeria’s opening goal.
Fran Garcia: 7.5
The Spaniard visibly played a higher line than usual against Almeria and regularly combined with Vinicius Jr on the flank. Provided some good cut-backs for Bellingham and Rodrygo to feast on.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 7.5
The Frenchman was the fulcrum of the team on the night and started strong. Began feeling the heat towards the end of the first period when the combined force of Sergio Arribas, Iddrisu Baba, and Adrian Embarba became too much to handle.
Regardless, Tchouameni recorded over seven defensive actions on the night and was confident on the ball.
Federico Valverde: 8
The Uruguayan star completed a stunning 95% of his passes in the opening period and had two key passes to show. Did not hesitate to splurge forward and initiate attacks.
Toni Kroos: 9
The German international made his first start of the season for Real Madrid and showed great composure and skill on the ball through his display. He even scored a spectacular goal late in the first half but saw it get ruled out after the referee spotted a foul in the build-up.
Nevertheless, the legend combined with Bellingham for the second goal against Almeria with a sumptuous ball over the top. Kroos played 70 minutes on the night, completing 94% of his passes, creating one big chance, and providing four key passes in the process.
Jude Bellingham: 10
The Englishman’s dream run at Real Madrid is not slowing down. Bellingham was once again one of the team’s brightest sparks on the field and regularly combined with both midfielders and forwards to create openings.
He scored the equaliser for Los Blancos before handing his team the lead with a brilliant header. Bellingham played virtually as the farthest man forward for the Merengues. Wrapped up his night with a special assist to Vinicius Jr for the team’s third goal.
The Brazilian prodigy came close to scoring twice in the first half but could not beat Luis Maximiano. Was a constant thorn in the foot of the Almeria defence with a permanent eye on goal.
Came off in the 72nd minute for Eduardo Camavinga having completed three dribbles and two key passes.
Vinicius Jr: 8
Vini was brilliant in the spells that he served on the flank but was significantly less productive in tight central channels.
Nevertheless, he scored a stunner in the 73rd minute as he lobbed the ball into the top corner from a Bellingham pass.
Luka Modric: 7.5
Chipped in with a confident and resourceful cameo in the middle of the park. Took over as the team’s creator-in-chief in the last ten minutes or so after Bellingham’s substitution.
Eduardo Camavinga: 6.5
The youngster stabilised Real Madrid’s midfield in his short cameo without any flashy attempts.
Came on too late to make a tangible impact.
Brahim Diaz: NA
Came on too late to make a tangible impact.
Lucas Vazquez: NA
Came on too late to make a tangible impact.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Las Palmas | La Liga
The heartbreak at Civitas Metropolitano saw Real Madrid drop down to third on the La Liga standings for the first time this season. They now sit on 15 points from six games, only one point behind leaders Barcelona.
Yet, there is barely time for the team to recover. Less than 72 hours after their defeat, the Merengues play host to Las Palmas in the seventh Matchday of La Liga in a tricky fixture.
Garcia Pimienta’s side have improved leaps and bounds in recent times, although their start to the new season has been far from positive.
Las Palmas were winless in their first five league games but picked up a first win in their most recent outing against Granada.
With the visitors coming off their first win and the hosts their first loss, it will be interesting to see how the game of momentum plays out.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Wednesday’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu.
The important reaction
Having secured six wins in six games under their belt, the threat of breaking the moment was always lurking around the corner from Real Madrid. After all, their wins to that point were not always convincing.
Jude Bellingham’s magic, Joselu’s constant threat and the talented midfield helped Los Blancos on their way to scrappy wins over the weeks. Yet, it was always glaringly clear that they had deficiencies in defence and the final third.
All of Real Madrid’s troubles came to the forefront on Sunday and were left glaringly exposed. The end result was a defeat that left a bitter taste in the mouths of players and fans.
Despite facing their first setback of the season, however, the men in white have no time to lament. After all, the hectic schedule leaves them little time between games.
It is thus of utmost importance that Real Madrid does not slip into a vicious state of negative momentum. As they face off against Las Palmas midweek, Carlo Ancelotti’s side needs a strong and dominant win to keep spirits high.
Considering that they will be back at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid will be the favourites by far on the night. Nevertheless, there will be pressure on the players to take all three points.
Limelight on the manager
The aftermath of the defeat to Atletico Madrid sent ripples through the Spanish media. It was reported that the Real Madrid board was not entirely happy with the list of ‘sins’ committed by Ancelotti in the clash at Civitas Metropolitano.
It thus goes without saying that the limelight will be on the manager on Wednesday.
For starters, the Italian gaffer must get the starting lineup right and not go overboard with his rotations. Aurelien Tchouameni is a must for the Merengues’ defensive efforts and must be introduced back into the lineup midweek.
Moreover, there will be pressure on him to revert to the winning 4-4-2 diamond formation featuring two natural forwards including a striker.
With Joselu returning to the lineup, Jude Bellingham must shift back to his more comfortable attacking midfield role.
Moreover, the manager must strike the right balance between youth and experience, for both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can no longer start together.
Perhaps the most important job Ancelotti is faced with, however, is in defence. Both David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger appeared lost in the last game, and it remains to be seen if the manager ropes Nacho Fernandez in to strike a better dynamic.
Return of the magician
While Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao are amongst Real Madrid’s most valuable players, it is Vinicius Jr’s injury that hit the club the hardest.
The Merengues unfortunately have a very thin and fragile forward line this season with just three players competing for two spots. Of the three names, Vinicius is the single most important one.
The Brazilian star may not have started the 2023-24 season at his optimal level considering his altered role in the new formation. Yet, he is the Merengues’ most lethal weapon to break open defences and create chances.
The men in white have had problems since the Selecao star hobbled off the field injured against Celta Vigo.
Their games against Getafe and Union Berlin were both down to last-gasp winners, while the defeat to Atletico Madrid showed everything wrong with the team.
Vinicius Jr is set to make his return in tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu, and there could be no better news for Ancelotti.