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.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.