Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings
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.
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
Goals, energy, leadership: Three things Bellingham can offer to Real Madrid
Real Madrid have been notoriously heavy spenders in the summer transfer market in the past but have not spent an awful lot over the last few seasons due to financial restrictions and their team finding its peak at the right time.
Real Madrid did shell out close to €100 million for Aurelien Tchouameni last year, and got Eduardo Camavinga in the summer of 2021 for around €400 million, too.
It does seem like they have a huge summer planned ahead of them, though. The club plans to splash some cash on multiple positions, including centre-forward, right-wing, central midfield, and across the defence.
Some targets are laid out for these positions, with Kylian Mbappe naturally being on the list.
However, one definite target for Madrid that’s been well-established already is Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. His price tag is set at around €100-140 million, and Los Blancos are among the teams leading the race for his signature, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Englishman has an obviously high ceiling and is already among the best players in his position in Europe. Moreover, he adds depth across various skillsets and attributes that Real Madrid currently lack or will lack as the clock marches on.
Madrid Universal explores three different things Bellingham can bring to the table for an already talented Galacticos side.
Goals from midfield
Despite not playing an advanced role, Bellingham is a rather experienced poacher in the box. This comes with his thorough understanding of offensive routines, and timing his runs to perfection in the box.
Being 6’1″ and physically gifted, the teenager can attack crosses and passes into the box with ease. He boasts of a rather impressive leap as well, which was more than visible during the World Cup, when he opened the scoring against Iran.
Goal – JUDE BELLINGHAM— masih miness (@WorldCup__id) November 21, 2022
England 1-0 Iran (34 mins) pic.twitter.com/CkCxl45mU1
The English midfielder has scored four goals in the league for Dortmund, and has accumulated an xG of 5.25 across the season. That is nearly two more than Madrid’s highest scoring midfielder – Luka Modric.
Currently, Madrid’s goals are rather lopsidedly dependent on the forward line, with Toni Kroos and Modric just chipping in with a combined six goals in the league out of a possible 51.
While both players, and Camavinga, are adept at shooting from range, neither quite provide the box threat or the third-man runs Madrid are currently craving for.
Once Karim Benzema or Vinicius Jr are boxed out of the game, Carlo Ancelotti’s side struggle with ideas, and are often stuck in a pattern of crossing and hoping for the best.
And even with that, Bellingham could prove to be an excellent solution to their problems, coming up with late runs into the box and attacking crosses and loose balls.
Far too many times this season, Ancelotti has been criticised for using Modric and Kroos in the same midfield. Especially when their bench holds the likes of Camavinga, Dani Ceballos, and sometimes even Federico Valverde.
However, it is clear that these players have been delegated to certain roles in midfield. Camavinga and Tchouameni shuffle as pivot options, while Ceballos is called upon add more creativity in the centre of the park.
Bellingham, while far from the best ball retainer, certainly has energy and lungs for days. He can run from box to box, receive and turn in a crowded midfield, and chase the ball till the 90.
While they have Valverde in a similar mould, the Uruguayan has been tasked with running the right-wing more often than not, at least under Ancelotti. It will be interesting to see how another coach would utilise both players to their respective strengths should the transfer go through.
Long-term captaincy candidate
At 19, Bellingham has already shown signs of becoming a captain for any side he plays for, for years to come. He has donned the armband for Dortmund several times this season already, and was first awarded with it in October, becoming the youngest captain in Bundesliga history.
Currently, he holds the position of third captain for Dortmund, behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, but has already held the armband multiple times, including twice in the UEFA Champions League.
While Madrid have a fair few leaders in their ranks, including and not limited to the likes of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and David Alaba, Bellingham has clearly proved that he is not only capable of taking on a leadership role, but also spearheading any side for years to come.
If all works out, the price tag of €120+ million will soon start to pale in comparison to the attributes he brings to the table alongside his unbelievably high ceiling and longevity.