Five takeaways from Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla
The Santiago Bernabeu hosted a thriller of a game in matchday 15 of La Liga as leaders Real Madrid took on an in-form Sevilla. The Andalusian side have been rock-solid this year, and their coherent attack has often found ways to salvage even the most difficult of games.
Yet, it was not enough against Los Blancos on Sunday as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Here are five takeaways from the big clash of the weekend.
1. A game of 2 parts
For long parts of the game, the spoils seemed to be shared between the two sides. With both Sevilla and Real Madrid defending deep but going harsh on the counter, one expected a stalemate to follow. Even up until the hour mark, the match followed a see-saw pattern with both sides creating equal opportunities. However, what followed was a domination of the highest order.
With 15 minutes to go, Ancelotti’s side switched to the highest gear. The visitors failed to cope with the sudden change in intensity and began to lose the ball in dangerous areas.
Moreover, the abrupt shift in tempo caught the Sevillan defence off guard as Real Madrid launched wave after wave of potent attacks. The refreshed and rejuvenated men in white took the field by storm and eventually found a winner at the Bernabeu.
2. Mentality of the highest level
The scoring on the night opened as early as the 12th minute through a Sevilla corner. Acuna’s corner was met in the air by a dominant Rafa Mir to give the visitors the lead in the opening minutes of the game. However, Real Madrid’s elite mentality came into play immediately after the goal was conceded.
Instead of the regular response of feeling overwhelmed after conceding, Los Blancos continued to play with the same intensity. There was no dip in the mentality of any player on the field as they constantly looked for ways to come back into the game.
Thibaut Courtois pulled off save after save, the midfield continued to press and break lines with ease and the forwards posed a constant threat to Sevilla’s goal. Ancelotti’s side eventually found a way back into the game and even went ahead in the dying minutes.
3. Benzema the dream
Karim Benzema has been Real Madrid’s best player over the past two seasons. On Sunday, he once again showed why he is one of the best in the business. The Frenchman needed only one shot on the night to make a decisive difference. His goal came in the 32nd minute when he skillfully darted through the Andalusian defence to slot in the ball.
Apart from the goal too, Benzema was magnificent on the night. He recorded one key pass, one successful dribble and two duels won against Julen Lopetegui’s side. Needless to say, he will be a big part of Real Madrid’s title pursuit this season if they are to go on and win the league.
4. Vinicius levels up his game
Despite being a dominant force in the final 15 minutes, the hosts struggled to find a winner until Vinicius’ moment of magic. When all hope seemed lost, the Brazilian wonderkid came up with a stunning goal to give his team all three points.
When all hope seemed lost in the 85th minute, Vinicius lit up the Bernabeu with his lightning-fast feet. After receiving the ball on the left flank, he drifted centrally towards the box. When everyone least expected it, the Brazilian fired an unstoppable curling shot past Bono from outside the area.
The 21-year-old attempted eight dribbles on the night of which he completed three. Despite having a rather silent game until his goal, his outstanding effort in the closing minutes helped his team get past a tricky opposition.
5. A red hot unbeaten streak
With this victory, Real Madrid make six wins in their last six games. The streak started with a win over Elche before the international break, followed by positive results against Shakhtar Donetsk and Rayo Vallecano.
The team returned with a bang against Granada last week in a 4-1 rout of the Spanish side. FC Sheriff Tiraspol were Ancelotti’s next victims as Los Blancos cruised past them in Moldova. The win over Sevilla is the sixth consecutive win.
However, daunting challenges lie ahead in Athletic Club and Real Sociedad. The two basque sides are seldom easy to beat, especially in away games. Moreover, Inter Milan lay next on the schedule after the Basque duo. Needless to say, Ancellotti has his work cut out for him in the coming month.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place
Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.
The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.
Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.
1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?
The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.
An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.
The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.
Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.
In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.
It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.
2. A day of farewells
Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.
Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.
With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.
The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.
Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.
3. A tight race for second place
There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.
Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.
Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.
With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.