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RB Leipzig 3-2 Real Madrid: Match Review



Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid faced a stern challenge on Tuesday night as they stepped out on the Red Bull Arena to take on RB Leipzig. The men in white were missing some key names ahead of the clash, yet needed only one point to guarantee their table-top finish.

Carlo Ancelotti fielded a completely rotated side on the night and used the opportunity to give his fringe players a chance to shine.

Thibaut Courtois was guarded by a centre-back combination of Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez. Lucas Vazquez and Antonio Rudiger started at right and left back respectively.

Toni Kroos was deployed in midfield from the first whistle alongside the young duo of Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga. Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Marco Asensio completed the lineup.

The men in white dominated the possession in the first half, but the visitors walked away with the better chances. Despite having only 46% possession, Leipzig recorded five shots on target and one shot blocked in the opening period.

The hosts’ opening goal came in a similar fashion, completely against the run of play. In just the 13th minute, Josko Gvardiol struck from a corner to give his side the lead.

His initial header was saved by Courtois but there was not much the goalkeeper could do to stop his header off the rebound.

It just took Leipzig five minutes to double their advantage, this time via Christopher Nkunku. Once again, the play began from a corner.

The set piece was taken short, and after a few passes, the ball was inside Real Madrid’s box at Nkunku’s feet. With a calm mind, the striker took his time and placed the ball past Courtois.

Los Blancos slowly grew into the game after that point and pulled one back in the penultimate minute of the half.

The credit for the goal should go to Marco Asensio who did well to get past the Leipzig defence and send a cross across the face of the goal to Vinicius. With just the goalkeeper to beat, the Brazilian cooly headed the ball and finished the job.

The second half was far from equal. Real Madrid took the game by its collar and dominated the chances as they desperately looked for an equaliser. Leipzig, in turn, were completely limited to the occasional counter-attack.

Carlo Ancelotti brought on David Alaba and Dani Carvajal in the 70th minute for Nacho and Vazquez. Six minutes later, Eden Hazard replaced Toni Kroos.

With nine minutes to go, Real Madrid conceded a third goal against the run of play. Leipzig’s vicious counter began with Mohamad Simakan charging down the right flank and getting the better of Rudiger and Militao before sending in an inch-perfect cross to Timo Werner. The German international did not do much wrong in finishing the chance, for he had the open goal at his mercy.

Real Madrid pulled one back through a late penalty in the final minute of the game after Rodrygo was taken down by Nkunku in the box. The Brazilian stepped up to take the spot-kick and buried the ball, but it was too little too late.

Ancelotti’s side tasted their first defeat of the season. Marco Rose’s men were superior on the night, and Real Madrid really missed their core players, including Fede Valverde, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

They remain on top of Group F for the time being but will require a win over Celtic on matchday 6 to finish that way.

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Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | La Liga



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona on their first trip to Spotify Camp Nou after more than a year.

The Catalans had not won against the Merengues at home since 2018 ahead of the game but a clutch goal from Franck Kessie helped them turn around the record.

Vinicius Jr opened the scoring early in the game by forcing an error and own goal from Ronald Araujo. The hosts levelled the score in the 45th minute through Sergi Roberto, before the winner arrived in stoppage time.

The game was not without its share of controversy as Real Madrid had a goal disallowed for offside that Ancelotti felt was unfair. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the fourth Clasico of the season.

1. Quality of full-backs

Real Madrid have etched their names into history as one of the most deadly counter-attacking teams in world football. Their pacey transitions and shifts of play have traditionally progressed through the wing with unreal speed to catch the opponent off-guard even in a momentary lapse in concentration.

Needless to say, the full-backs have always worked in tandem with the team’s wingers to make such speedy counters possible. The glaring problem at Real Madrid currently is that their full-backs do not provide half as much as they need to.

Los Blancos’ counterattack now seemingly consists of only Vinicius Jr on the left wing making a quick transition to find Karim Benzema. With just one outlet, it is difficult for the men in white to be effective.

The story at Spotify Camp Nou was very similar. Dani Carvajal started as the right-back and had a good showing defensively. Yet, he was virtually absent in the final third and left Real Madrid’s right-wing lifeless. In ninety minutes, he managed no crosses or long balls and had just one key pass.

The story at left-back was equally, if not more abysmal. Nacho Fernandez was the candidate deployed in the position and could also not manage a single cross, long ball or key pass on the night. He was eventually substituted for Ferland Mendy but the Frenchman could not do much either.

The difference in the quality of full-backs between Barcelona and Ancelotti’s side is gaping. The Catalans blazed through the wings on the night with Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde who constantly got forward in attack to stretch the men in white. In response, Real Madrid had nothing.

2. A dead right-wing and lack of intensity

Carvajal had a forgettable game (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It is imperative for any top football team to have the resources to attack both wings, for it is the constant switching of play that triggers errors from the opposition. For a club like Real Madrid to not have such resources is criminal.

The game against Barcelona was completely predictable given that the Merengues’ right wing was nonexistent. Any attack, almost surely, had to come down Vinicius’ wing and this made Barcelona’s defensive work easier.

Dani Carvajal was barely involved in the final third against the Catalans. That, coupled with Federico Valverde’s atrocious showing as the right-winger removed one side of the field from Real Madrid’s game.

Valverde made just 27 passes in 76 minutes and failed to make a single cross on the night. Further, he recorded just one key pass and one accurate long ball in El Clasico.

When Marco Asensio came on for Los Blancos, the equation completely turned around. The winger came on as a direct replacement for Valverde and happened to score the disallowed goal that was millimetres from giving Real Madrid three points.

More importantly, the move for the aforementioned goal was completely down the right flank, a testament to the alarming situation.

3. Goodbye La Liga?

When the clock at Spotify Camp Nou struck 81 minutes, the race for La Liga seemed to be on. Real Madrid had just scored a possible winner and had cut short their deficit with Barcelona to just six points.

Ten minutes later, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts. Their lead atop the league standings was suddenly twelve points with just 12 games to go.

History is witness that counting out Real Madrid does not fare well. However, it is difficult to surpass the supposition that the 12-point gap is too wide to bridge.

Los Blancos will continue to fight in the league, but Ancelotti will likely preserve his weapons for the UEFA Champions League where they face a bigger chance at glory.

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