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Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings

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Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid boasted a three-goal lead over Liverpool heading into the second leg of the UEFA Champions League tie. Hosting the English side at Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos dragged the game too long for their liking.

The result was always written in stone, but Jurgen Klopp’s side’s enthusiasm and inspired attacks in the first half made one feel that Real Madrid needed just one goal to kill the game off.

That moment had to wait until late in the second half when Karim Benzema would execute a simple finish past Allison.

Real Madrid head to the quarterfinals of the UCL now, with El Clasico being their next big challenge at the weekend.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid vs Liverpool.

Thibaut Courtois: 9

The Belgian International was forced into action multiple times during the game as Liverpool
Desperately pushed forward in attack. Courtois made four saves in the first half alone, including two blocks to deny Darwin Nunez.

At full-time, he had recorded five key saves including four from inside the box.

Daniel Carvajal: 7.5

Not Carvajal’s best night in terms of defensive solidity, for Jurgen Klopp’s side got behind him with ease through Darwin Nunez. The 31-year-old had zero contribution in the final third over the first 45 minutes to rub salt onto his slack performance at the back.

With 12 defensive actions and an improved second half, he shut down Liverpool’s left wing before coming off for the final period.

Eder Militao: 7.5

The Brazilian was the lesser involved of the two centre-halves at half-time but did not do too much wrong. Was solid defensively, with ten defensive actions in 90 minutes, completely cutting Diego Jota off from potential service.

Antonio Rudiger: 8

Another good outing for the German star, who himself suffered elimination to Real Madrid last season. Donning the white jersey, Rudiger made a vital last-man tackle and eight defensive actions to hold the team together.

Further, he created one big chance when he headed the ball across the face of the goal for Vinicius. Unfortunately, the youngster could not capitalise.

Nacho Fernandez: 8

After silencing Mohamed Salah in the first leg at Anfield, Ancelotti opted to use Nacho as a left-back once again on Wednesday. This time, the Egyptian international managed to get the better of him on a couple of occasions but Nacho held his nerve well to steer through for most parts.

He was vital in the final third, surprisingly, as he created two big chances in just the first half. Nacho was top-notch in the period that followed, as he completely silenced the Liverpool right wing with good defensive intensity.

Luka Modric: 7.5

The Croat was inches away from sealing the game in the 22nd minute with a stunning chest control and volley from outside the area.

As always, Modric was safe with the ball and integral in the buildup throughout the game though his creative output could have been superior. Finished the game with 96% passes completed and a big chance created.

Eduardo Camavinga: 9

The Frenchman started in the heart of Real Madrid’s setup as the pivot and executed a near-perfect first half. He held the team’s fortress with poise while also creating a nuisance in the final third.

His shot from a distance in the 20th minute travelled dangerously and struck the post in what was the team’s best chance in half.

Camavinga was everywhere on the night, seemingly playing the role of pivot and interior based on the need. He sparked Real Madrid’s goal on the night with a good vertical defence-splitting pass in the 79th minute. A special display from the youngster.

Toni Kroos: 8.5

The German, as always, was stellar on the big night. He completed 100% of his attempted long balls, dribbles and ground duels in the first half, in addition to one key pass and one shot in the opening period.

Completed the game with 62 touches, six accurate long balls, two dribbles and eight defensive actions before coming off with seven minutes to go.

Federico Valverde: 6

The Uruguayan had the first big chance to score after the restart of play but could only manage a tame attempt against Allison. Put in a good defensive shift and created threats against the advances Robertson but was not as big a threat in front of goal as Ancelotti would like.

Karim Benzema: 7

Some of the team’s best chances fell Benzema’s way before the hour mark but the Frenchman’s sluggish response in front of goal did not help his case.

Can not be faulted much for his performance in the buildup play, but one would expect a lot more in terms of clinical finishing from a bonafide striker.

His situation did not improve later in the game either as he skied a sitter close to the 70-minute mark. Yet, he was the one to finally beat Alisson with a simple tap into the far post. Came off after 80 minutes.

Vinicius Jr: 8

Vinicius missed a big chance off Rudiger’s brilliant pass in the first half but was a lively presence on the field for most parts of the games.

While Liverpool dominated the proceedings, it was the Brazilian who pioneered Los Blancos’ counterattacks and set up Benzema on numerous occasions. In the end, it was a similar pass to the Frenchman that resulted in the captain scoring the first goal of the night. Came off in the 83rd minute.

Substitutes

Rodrygo: NA

Just the one touch on the night.

Dani Ceballos: 7

Came on for 13 minutes and created a brilliant chance.

Marco Asensio: N/A

Did not contribute enough to warrant a rating

Aurelien Tchouameni: N/A

Did not contribute enough to warrant a rating

Lucas Vazquez: N/A

Did not contribute enough to warrant a rating

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid return to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night for the first time since booking a place in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League.

Having dethroned the reigning UCL champions midweek, they will look to do the same to the reigning Spanish champions at the weekend as they take on Barcelona in La Liga.

The Catalans have been on a mini resurgence in recent weeks, but their momentum and morale was crushed midweek with a defeat to PSG in the second leg of the UCL quarterfinal.

Real Madrid have got the better of the Blaugranas twice this season already, and appear to have the advantage over them for the third time ahead of Sunday’s clash. A win on the night would have massive implications.

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

Riding the high

Manchester City may have embarrassed Real Madrid by a 4-0 scoreline at the Etihad one year ago. Earlier this week, however, Los Blancos exacted their revenge at the same venue.

Pep Guardiola’s side may have been the more dominant team on the night with the better chances. On a scale of who deserved to go through for attacking football, the Premier League giants indeed would have made the cut.

Yet, Real Madrid held on through the storm and pulled through an extra 30 minutes to take the game to a penalty shootout. The masters of nerves kept their cool through the tense shootout and pulled through in clutch Real Madrid style.

Ancelotti must play his cards right (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

They now enter El Clasico riding on the wave of momentum that has been going their way all season, and they must look to capitalise on the psychological edge they boast on the psychological front.

After all, Barcelona are coming off a tough defeat which sealed their elimination from Europe and are far from their best state from a psychological standpoint. A mentally weakened opposition is, after all, half conquered.

The final rung

El Clasico has lost its charm in recent years and is overtaken by several other fascinating fixtures across the globe as football’s elite clash.

While a part of the decline is due to the departure of big names from both teams, Barcelona’s overall fall in quality has an equal role to play in the same.

While the game may not have the same global appeal it did a few years ago, however, El Clasico seldom arrives without any reward on the line. This time, it brings with it a real chance for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to celebrate a massive success.

With seven games to go in La Liga, Los Blancos sit comfortably on 78 points while second-placed Barcelona are on 70 points. A win tomorrow will widen the gap to 11 points, and virtually seal La Liga in Real Madrid’s name.

After all, it is almost unthinkable that the men in white will lose four of their next six games after the Clasico. Tomorrow’s game, thus, brings with it the ultimate prize.

Carlo Ancelotti’s focus against Barcelona, thus, will be to ensure that his side do not slacken out and that they bring home all three points the easy way. After all, a defeat at the Bernabeu will cut their lead to five points and set up for a nervy finish.

The right rotations

Having just played a tiring 120-minute shift against Manchester City on Wednesday night, it is but natural for Los Blancos to feel fatigued.

Checking on players’ fitness and opting for the right rotations, albeit without impacting the quality on the field, thus will be Ancelotti’s greatest challenge ahead of the showdown against Barcelona.

For starters, Toni Kroos is expected to be replaced by Luka Modric in midfield on the night after playing a long shift midweek. The Croatian showed against Manchester City that he still has magic in his boots, and a start against Barcelona would not be undeserved.

The second likely change in midfield will be the return of Aurelien Tchouameni, who was suspended midweek. The Frenchman is expected to take the place of his teammate Eduardo Camavinga at the base of midfield.

Moving to the final third, the player in question for the game is Vinicius Jr, especially considering that he was facing muscular discomfort after the game in England.

He has been included in the squad to face Barcelona, but it is critical that Ancelotti evaluates his fitness before handing him the start.

If indeed the Brazilian is not fit to play from the first minute, Rodrygo will take his place on the left wing with Joselu covering the second spot in attack.

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