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Napoli 2-3 Real Madrid: Player Ratings

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Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

The world anticipated a nail-biter between Real Madrid and Napoli in the UEFA Champions League on Matchday 2 of the competition. The clash on Tuesday night did not disappoint.

For 90 minutes, the two elite teams contested in a battle that exhibited only the highest quality of football. Both sides created some fine openings, but it was Carlo Ancelotti’s side that spent longer under pressure.

Napoli took the early lead at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium through Leo Østigard before Vinicius Jr equalised nine minutes later.

Jude Bellingham gave the visitors the lead heading into half-time, but Piotr Zielinski levelled the scores once more from the spot in the second period.

The final twist came 12 minutes from time when Fede Valverde sent a scorching volley that hit the crossbar and rebounded off goalkeeper Alex Meret into the net to hand Real Madrid a 3-2 win.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings of the Merengues’ stars on the night.

Kepa Arrizabalaga: 7

The Real Madrid goalkeeper had a solid and busy day at the office in what was his first big test in the white colours. Safe to say that he did well overall, despite the early mistake leading to the opening goal.

Dani Carvajal: 7

One of the more bland Real Madrid players on the field. Carvajal lacked clear conviction in the final third and did not push forward in attack to the capacity Ancelotti would have liked. Held his own defensively, regardless.

Nacho Fernandez: 7

The captain received his three-game suspension in La Liga earlier in the day and unsurprisingly started the UEFA Champions League match in light of the ban. Nacho did not look particularly shaken up by the developments off the field and dished out a professional display.

Was unlucky to concede a penalty in the second half as the ball hit his hand from point-blank range.

Antonio Rudiger: 8

Rudiger was at his no-nonsense style of defence against the Italian opposition and was crucial in cutting off the likes of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Was absolutely gargantuan with his interceptions in the second period.

Eduardo Camavinga: 7

Started at left-back for the second consecutive game despite the availability of both Ferland Mendy and Fran Garcia. Camavinga held his own in defence and played a critical role with his distribution on the night. Was awarded the assist for Jude Bellingham’s goal.

Faced significantly more struggles in defence in the second half when Napoli looked re-inspired. Left the field for Mendy after the hour mark.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 7.5

The Frenchman maintained his hot streak of form in the middle of the park against Napoli. Tchouameni’s distribution was impeccable, and while he was defensively on point, he did not hesitate to push forward with incisive passes.

Federico Valverde: 8.5

Brilliant. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Uruguayan added an element of threat in Napoli’s box with his constant attacking runs. Valverde was reliable on the ball and silent with his clinical distribution.

Launched an absolute belter in the 78th minute to create Real Madrid’s third goal out of nothing. It may have gone down as Meret’s own goal, but Valverde should consider the goal his own.

Toni Kroos: 8

The German veteran was handed a start ahead of Luka Modric and showed exactly why Ancelotti considers him to be essential.

Kroos was one of Real Madrid’s primary weapons to open up the Napoli defence. As the game progressed, it became clear that the German was Real Madrid’s orchestrator-in-chief.

Provided three key passes and completed seven of his nine attempted long balls. Left the field for Modric in the 63rd minute.

Jude Bellingham: 9

How long can Bellingham keep going? The English youngster continues to shock fans across the globe with his brilliant run of form as he once again dished out a man-of-the-match-worthy performance.

Another day, another goal. (Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images)

Bellingham got the assist for Vinicius Jr.’s equaliser early in the game for his clever piece of work. He then displayed exquisite ball control to drift past five Napoli defenders and skilfully put the ball past Alex Meret to put his side in front.

Rodrygo Goes: 6

Rodrygo just could not get going once again as he struggled in the final third and missed some clear chances. At this point, it is clear that he needs serious attention for his confidence to stay unaffected. Came off for Joselu in the 75th minute.

Vinicius Jr: 8

For the first time this season, Vini Jr. appeared to enjoy his new role in the 4-4-2 system. The Brazilian star was a lifeline down the left, constantly cutting in centrally and threatening Napoli’s goal. His goal on the night came through a similar move.

Completed the game with three successful dribbles and two shots blocked.

SUBSTITUTES

Luka Modric: 7.5

Took charge of dictating Real Madrid’s play after Kroos’ exit and was heavily involved in the buildup.

Ferland Mendy: 7.5

Served as a solid defensive addition in the second half when Napoli were relentless in attack.

Joselu: NA

Barely made a touch after coming on.

Dani Ceballos: NA

Came on for Vini Jr in the 84th minute. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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Features

Kroos, Courtois start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could lineup against Real Betis

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Photo via Getty Images

Having won the league comfortably after accumulating 94 points in 37 games, Real Madrid’s main objective for the last game of the season, set to go ahead tomorrow, against Real Betis, would be to finish on 97 points.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are coming off a 4-4 draw against Villarreal last weekend, Madrid will be looking to end the domestic season with a win, which would also serve as a huge confidence boost ahead of their Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

Reports have suggested that Ancelotti is alternating his lineup ahead of the UCL final to keep his troops fit and gunning. And after rotations last week against Villarreal, all signs point towards the best XI taking the field vs Betis.

Keeping that in mind, Madrid Universal takes a jab at the 14-time Champions League winners’ final starting lineup of the season for their game against Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis.

Defence: Militao or Nacho?

Andriy Lunin returned to guard the posts against Villarreal, which could be a sign that Ancelotti is preparing to use Thibaut Courtois as his goalkeeper against Dortmund. As such, we expect the Belgian to handle the gloves tomorrow.

Daniel Carvajal is expected to replace Lucas Vazquez as the right-back, while Ferland Mendy returns to take over his left-back role.

Antonio Rudiger’s spot does not seem to be in any threat at all, but there are question marks over who will start alongside him, especially on the back of Eder Militao’s disastrous performance vs Villarreal.

Consequently, Nacho might get the nod tomorrow, especially since it could be his last game for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Midfield: Farewell Toni

While Nacho’s future is still up in the air, Toni Kroos announced his decision to leave Madrid at the end of the season on a free transfer. He will play his final game at home tomorrow, and is expected to get a huge farewell.

Kroos’ last game in Madrid colours. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Federico Valverde will aid him in midfield, playing on the right side of the trident, while Eduardo Camavinga starts as the defensive midfielder to cover for the injured Aurelien Tchouameni.

Attack: No doubts

The attack pretty much picks itself, especially if Ancelotti is truly planning on mirroring the lineup that will likely start the Champions League final as well.

Jude Bellingham will retain his spot as the false 9, playing slightly off left as he has done more so in recent weeks.

Brazilian powerhouse Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo will get the license to start as the two forwards up top, playing in front of Bellingham.

Off the bench

Joselu will almost definitely get some minutes tomorrow, and more than likely in the Champions League final as well, especially owing to his brilliance against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

Similarly, Ancelotti could opt to experiment with Luka Modric in midfield in the second half, especially if Tchouameni does not make it back in time to full fitness ahead of the final.

Eder Militao and Arda Guler are also in for some minutes tomorrow, with the latter on the scoresheet four time sin the last three games.

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