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.
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 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 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.
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.
Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin
Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with a narrow 1-0 win over Union Berlin.
The victory was deserved from the point of view of domination of play. Real Madrid were the only team attacking for large parts of the night and created chances to no end.
Yet, one must tip the hat to the visitors’ resilient defence. Playing the first UEFA Champions League clash in the club’s history is difficult enough, let alone at the Santiago Bernabeu. Union Berlin did so and with some style.
Until the 93rd minute, a draw appeared to be the most probable result. The visitors refused to cave into Real Madrid’s relentless attacks and poured their hearts out on the field.
In the end, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men did what they do best. A last-minute winner from Jude Bellingham gave the hosts all three points.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin.
The power of Real Madrid
Real Madrid are one of the few teams in the world that can never be written off. Such is the ability of the team, more so under Carlo Ancelotti, that they can pull off a win even after a howler.
Their unfair advantage, in part, owes itself to the ridiculous individual quality they possess on the field. Any player is capable of turning the game around with a moment of magic.
Yet, the most important factor that works in their favour is the mental resilience in the squad. Real Madrid never believe it is over until it really is, and Wednesday night’s game provided further reassurance as to why they are the mentality monsters.
For 90 minutes, the visitors frustrated Real Madrid to the limit. They stuck to their defensive lines with discipline and did not give Los Blancos much to work with.
Yet, Real Madrid’s perseverance was visible through the ordeal. The intensity of their attacks amplified with every passing minute and showed no signs of tapering down.
Poetically, they found the winning goal in the final minute of added time when all doors seemed closed, with Jude Bellingham being the hero yet again.
Forwards need to step up
The men in white had 75% of the possession on Wednesday night at Santiago Bernabeu and kept making the required penetrative attacks.
In 90 minutes, the hosts racked up an xG tally of 3.80. Yet, shockingly, they were goalless even in the penultimate minute of the game.
Real Madrid took 32 shots against Union Berlin as opposed to the opposition’s four. Seven shots were on target while 10 were blocked.
In terms of big chances, the me in white churned up five in the 90 minutes of which they missed four. They also struck the woodwork twice last night.
The team’s struggles in the final third place the spotlight on Rodrygo Goes and Joselu, who were the team’s two forwards at Santiago Bernabeu. Both players suffered disappointing nights in front of goal and just could not catch a break from their poor luck.
The Spaniard had three shots on target, five off it, and three attempts blocked against Union Berlin. All of it, however, was in vain.
The Brazilian was not much better with three shots and one blocked chance. Nevertheless, their poor results were not for a lack of trying if that is any silver lining.
Far from convincing
Real Madrid’s mentality and fortitude to push for a win is indeed a reason to be optimistic. However, that does not hide the fact that the men in white struggled and toiled on to no end.
The Champions League has no minnows, but one would expect Real Madrid to show their dominance at some point in the game and close the deal. However, that spell of play never arrived.
Los Blancos may be on a six-game winning streak so far this season, but there is reason to believe that a factor of luck has been essential for most of their scalps.
All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti now. The manager has a world-class roster at his disposal, and it will now be up to him to enhance Real Madrid’s performance in the final third. After all, putting away chances is as important as creating them.