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Real Betis 1-3 Atletico Madrid: Player Ratings

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Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Atletico de Madrid demonstrated a masterclass in counter-attacking football yet again this season. Los Rojiblancos overcame Real Betis in their own backyard, winning with a comfortable scoreline of 1-3. The score does not do Los Verdiblancos justice, as for large parts of the match, they dominated both the ball and chances. 

With the victory, Atleti leapfrogged Betis and got into fourth place, level on points with Barcelona, who have played a game less.

In light of the defending La Liga champions’ victory last night, join Madrid Universal as we evaluate the performances of each individual in this episode of the Match Ratings. 

Jan Oblak: 7.25

Oblak had a quite busy night against Real Betis. The Andalusians attacked him all throughout the game, and he had to come up with several saves to keep the hosts at bay. Despite the barrage of shots he faced, he dealt with almost all of them very comfortably.

Felipe: 7

The Brazilian had an engaged night in defence, and on several occasions, the likes of Cristian Tello and Borja Iglesias tested him. For the most part, he was defensively rigid, and almost got a goal of his own with his shot hitting the frame of the goal.

Jose Gimenez: 6.5

Gimenez was relatively passive for most of the match. He performed neither poorly nor exceptionally for his side, and his defensive contributions, while present, were nothing special.

Reinildo Mandava: 6.75

Despite a very slow start from the Mozambican, he picked up his form in the second half of the game. Fortunately for him, his flank was not attacked very much, and even when it was, he was on hand to deal with Los Beticos

Sime Vrsaljko: 6

The Croat did not have much time to impose himself in the game and was one of two early forced substitutions for Atletico de Madrid.

Marcos Llorente: 8.25

Llorente and Oblak came up clutch for Atleti. (Photo via Getty)

Llorente rediscovered his form from the title-winning season, and capped off a sensational second-half performance with a glorious assist to Joao Felix. Bar his individual football, he succeeded in getting into his rivals’ heads, leading to them needlessly confronting him.

Hector Herrera: 6.5

Herrera had quite a mixed game. On some occasions, he displayed brilliance on the ball. On others, his lack of composure ended up costing the team. Atletico will expect better from him ahead of their tie against Cadiz on Friday.

Rodrigo de Paul: 7.25

Following quite a bland opening 45 minutes, de Paul redeemed himself in the second period. His tackles, key passes and interceptions were key to Atleti’s fight for all three points in the Benito Villamarin.

Renan Lodi: 5.5

The Brazilian was virtually absent from the game. His contributions amounted to very little, and as such he deservedly was substituted off at halftime. 

Angel Correa: 7.5

The Argentine played only 27 minutes of football for Atletico, having to leave the pitch following a gruesome injury sustained in the quarter of a way through. Despite this, he had enough time, awareness and composure to assist Joao Felix in just the second minute of the game.

Joao Felix: 8.5

The best player on the pitch bar none yesterday. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

The Portuguese played perhaps his best football match of the season yet. He positioned himself brilliantly to open the scoring for Atleti and double their tally in the second half of the match. He oozed confidence, and if not from a brilliant save from Claudio Bravo, he could have had a hat trick.

SUBSTITUTES

Yannick Carrasco: 7.25

Carrasco came on as a forced substitution in the 21st minute for Vrsaljko. Upon entering the pitch, he proved a permanent menace for the Betis defence, and if not for some slight imprecision on his part, he could have ended the night with an assist.

Antoine Griezmann: 8

The Frenchman returned to the team’s dynamics by default following Correa’s injury. His performance on the night was reminiscent of his best self. The dribble leading up to his late assist to Thomas Lemar to end the tie was a work of absolute beauty on his part.

Thomas Lemar: 7

This was far from the busiest that Lemar has been in the red and white of Atletico de Madrid. Nevertheless, his instincts and composure helped him grab a late goal to secure all three points for his side.

Javier Serrano & Luis Suarez: N/A

The pair came on late, and as a result, it is not possible to give them a rating. 

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid

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Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The big Champions League nights seldom disappoint, and the first-leg quarterfinal results last week in this year’s edition were no different.

The four games cumulatively saw 18 goals scored, none of which were overwhelmingly convincing, thus leaving the ground level ahead of the decisive second legs.

Of the four fixtures that unfolded last week, the clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City was the most entertaining, by far.

An enthralling 3-3 draw saw both Los Blancos and Pep Guardiola’s men pull off mini-comebacks on the night before they eventually split the spoils and left everything to be decided at the Etihad Stadium.

Tomorrow, the two European giants face off again in Manchester in a game that will grant the victor a spot in the semifinal of this season’s Champions League.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid.

New year, new team

As Real Madrid head to the Etihad to take part in the decisive second leg, they invariably confront some horrific memories at the arena.

For starters, the men in white have never beaten Manchester City at the Etihad in an official game. Of the teams’ last three meetings at the venue over the past four years, City have always come out on top at home.

Los Blancos’ most recent recollection of the venue does not help in any way either. After all, they headed to England last season after a draw in the first leg at home, only to be destroyed by a 4-0 margin by Pep Guardiola’s men.

Fast forward one year, the Spanish giants once again failed to secure an advantage in the home fixture. To qualify for the semifinal, they must not only conquer the Etihad’s curse but also get past the ghosts of last year.

A lot has changed in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup since the two sides last met. Karim Benema’s departure, Jude Bellingham’s arrival, and the rise of new stars in goal and defence are just some of the innumerable variations that have grown into the Madrid-based entity.

Ancelotti’s primary goal tomorrow, thus, should be to keep the morale and belief of his men high. It is a new year, a new team, and history plays no part in how the game plays out.

The defensive situation

Rudiger and Nacho likely to start in defence. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ancelotti was faced with a defensive dilemma ahead of Real Madrid’s first leg last week. Of the available options, he opted to go with Aurelien Tchouameni to partner Antonio Rudiger, purely because of the Frenchman’s prowess in aerial duels.

While Tchouameni did do a good job, he is suspended for tomorrow’s clash leaving the Italian coach in a tricky situation in defence.

His Plan B, Eder Militao, is not fit enough to start, and everything indicates that Nacho will be the player to start alongside the German.

Tomorrow’s game at Etihad will be a personal battle for Rudiger, for he was dropped the last time Real Madrid played at the venue and watched his team’s destruction from the sidelines.

Now arriving as the leader of defence, he will make it his objective to prove that Ancelotti’s decision to drop him a year ago was costly. After all, he has efficiently defended against Erling Haaland in all his meetings with the Norwegian.

An equal share of the spotlight will shine on Nacho, whose aerial ability will be tested, and Ferland Mendy, who suffered against Bernardo Silva a week ago.

Clarity in approach

Real Madrid differ from other top European clubs in one primary respect. Unlike the goal of competitors to play a beautiful game, dominate the proceedings and assert authority, Los Blancos purely concern themselves with the result.

Be it ugly or an exquisitely crafted display, the win and qualification are all that Ancelotti aims for. The aforementioned approach has largely pioneered the team’s success over the years.

Heading into tomorrow’s clash, it is thus imperative that Real Madrid have the right idea of what to expect.

It will be close to impossible to dominate proceedings against a well-oiled Pep Guardiola team, nor will it be simple to boast of possession. As such, the Merengues will likely be forced to defend deep for large parts of the game.

What will be critical, however, are the few chances they get on the counter-attack. The likes of Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo Goes, Jude Bellingham and Federico Valverde will be crucial if the team is to hit on the break with efficiency, and their form will account for a large part of the result.

The goal tomorrow, thus, must not be to dominate the game but purely to walk out victors. It might not turn out to be beautiful, but will surely be memorable should it work out.

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