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Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea: Player Ratings

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

The glorious UEFA Champions League anthem rang around the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night as defending champions Real Madrid took on 2020/21 champions Chelsea. The two teams were to fight it out for a spot in the semifinal of the competition, and the game that followed lived up to its billing.

Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos the lead early in the first half as Real Madrid dominated the game in every aspect. Just when it looked like the visitors were getting back into the game, Ben Chilwell was sent off and reduced Chelsea to ten men in the second half. Marco Asensio’s strike later sealed the game.

The Merengues travel to Stamford Bridge with a two-goal advantage and a psychological edge next week. There was a feeling that Carlo Ancelotti’s men could have capitalised better on their home leg, but they nevertheless are the favourites to advance.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Real Madrid vs Chelsea.

Thibaut Courtois: 7

Had some work to do during Chelsea’s bright start to the game and was forced into making two big saves from inside the box. Again did well to deny Enzo Fernandez early in the second period.

Dani Carvajal: 7.5

A special night for the veteran full-back as he completely dominated the right flank over Ben Chilwell and Joao Felix. Defensively on point in the first half, capped off only by a splendid pre-assist for the team’s opener.

It was Carvajal’s perfectly times ball over the top that found Vinicius one on one against Kepa before Benzema struck the rebound into the back of the net.

Eder Militao: 7

A leader’s performance from the Brazilian centre-half who never looked to be under pressure on the night. Made three clearances, two tackles, and won five duels.

David Alaba: 7

Used his experience to complement the young feet of Militao perfectly. Completed the game with 11 defensive actions including a whopping four interceptions.

Eduardo Camavinga: 7

The Frenchman started as the left-back against Frank Lampard’s men but had minimal defensive work to do on the night. Became a bigger threat in the final third as the game advanced. Finished with seven defensive actions and a big chance created.

Federico Valverde: 7.5

Solid. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

A lot of eyes were on the Uruguayan to see how he held himself up after the weekend’s episode with Alex Baena. Against Chelsea, the youngster was single-minded, and focused and played a flawless first half with close to 96% pass accuracy.

He was a key part of Los Blancos’ persistent pressure on the visitors’ midfield after the break.

Toni Kroos: 7.5

Started as the pivot ahead of Aurelien Tchouameni and delivered another class-filled performance at the Santiago Bernabeu. Was instrumental in cutting off Chelsea’s passing lanes on any possible counterattack.

Won seven of his eight ground duels, 100% of his aerial duels, and made five tackles and a clearance on the night before making way for Aurelien Tchouameni.

Luka Modric: 7.5

The Croat had a routinely silent, yet flawless first half on the night and pulled the strings in the middle of the park to dominate the visitors’ exposed weaknesses. Had a splendid chance to score early in the second half but his curling effort went just over the bar.

Finished the game with 95% pass accuracy, a key pass, and three successful dribbles.

Rodrygo: 8

The youngster received the nod to start on the right wing on Wednesday. As expected, he spent most of his time on the field in central spaces instead of on the flank and played a smart role in combination play.

Got Ben Chilwell sent off by forcing a last-man tackle at the hour mark and thus reduced the opponents to ten men. Completed the game with two successful dribbles and a shot on target. Came off after 70 minutes.

Karim Benzema: 9

The Frenchman was a constant threat in and around the Chelsea area, managing three shots on target and a successful dribble in the first half alone. Benzema scored the opener with a simple touch into the back of the net and extended his special record against not only Chelsea but Premier League sides in general.

Continued to create a nuisance in Chelsea’s box until the very end when he missed a big chance to make it three.

Deadly duo. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Vinicius Jr: 9

The Brazilian struggled in the opening phase of the game against Wesley Fofana but found ways around the defender as the game progressed. Eventually, Carvajal’s sublime pass found him in a central channel and Vini’s touch was enough to put the ball beyond Kepa and into his captain’s path.

It was again the Brazilian’s pullback late in the game that found Marco Asensio for Real Madrid’s second goal of the night.

SUBSTITUTES

Marco Asensio: 8

Just seconds after coming on, he received the ball outside the opposition box and struck it sweetly the first time to beat Kepa at the right post.

Antonio Rudiger: 7.5

Came on to replace Camavinga and slotted in at centre-back, with Alaba moving to left-back. Did well to hold the fortress, and made a huge block to deny Mason Mount late on.

Dani Ceballos: 6.5

Came on, completed 100% of his passes, and won a duel. Not much more a manager can ask of his substitute.

Aurelien Tchouameni: N/A

Played a very minimal part, does not warrant 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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