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Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Match Review

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

The table-toppers clash in Group F of the UEFA Champions League featured Real Madrid taking on Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu. While the hosts had got their European campaign off to the perfect start, Shakhtar was not far behind with four of a possible six points in two games.

With the Ukrainian club being Los Blancos‘ only real competition to finish on top of the group, Carlo Ancelotti’s side needed to pick up all three points.

For the UCL clash, the manager picked Andre Lunin in goal with Eder Militao and David Alaba deployed in central defence. Daniel Carvajal and Ferland Mendy completed the defence at right and left-back, respectively.

Toni Kroos led the midfield with Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde under his command. The forward line saw the trio of Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, and Rodrygo start.

The game got off to a flier in the 13th minute as Rodrygo scored sublimely to give the hosts the lead. The move began with Tchouameni, who did well to find the Brazilian. However, the goal was completely down to Rodrygo’s pinpoint finishing into the right corner.

Just fifteen minutes later, Real Madrid doubled their lead through a lovely team goal. The move saw all three forwards link up beautifully to evade Shakhtar’s defence before Rodrygo slid the ball across to Vinicius for a simple finish.

The one-way traffic continued for the next ten minutes as Madrid piled on attack after attack on an exhausted Ukrainian defence. Yet, Igor Jovicevic’s side kept their cool and kept themselves from conceding.

Eventually, Shakhtar got one back in the 39th minute when Mykahailichenko’s cross from the left side found Zubkov. Up against the Real Madrid goalkeeper, the 26-year-old striker perfectly timed his volley and sent the ball into the netting.

The second period started in a familiar fashion. Real Madrid kept the possession and stepped on the gas while Shakhtar’s attacks were limited to the occasional counter. The visitors did indeed have their chances to restore parity, but Real Madrid had a far superior number of chances to put the game out of sight.

Carlo Ancelotti gave Eduardo Camavinga a run in place of Tchouameni in the 75th minute and rested the new signing given the tight calendar. Marcos Asensio got to grace the pitch, too, coming on for Rodrygo in the final ten minutes.

No goals headlined the second period, but it was not for lack of chances. Poor finishing, and some brilliance from Anatolii Trubin kept the scoreline at 2-1, but the figure was flattering on the visitors.

With this win, Real Madrid get back to winning ways after dropping points at the weekend and comfortably move atop group F. They next face off against Getafe on Saturday before playing Shakhtar again next week.

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Features

Three talking points ahead of RCD Mallorca vs Real Madrid

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid have seldom struggled against RCD Mallorca in recent years. The men in white have scored a whopping 15 goals in their last four games against the Palma-based side and their last loss versus them came back in 2019.

If this season’s numbers are anything to go by, however, it would be wrong to overlook Javier Aguirre’s side. Mallorca have won seven of their nineteen La Liga games so far and sit in tenth place with 25 points.

While they have not scored a lot this campaign, they have conceded the fourth-least goals in the Spanish top flight and have an excellent defensive record.

Real Madrid play Mallorca before Barcelona’s game on Sunday and have a chance to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to two points temporarily if they can win at Son Moix.

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

1. Tchouameni time again?

Aurelien Tchouameni spent close to a month on the sidelines after hobbling off injured in Real Madrid’s clash against Villarreal last month.

In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to patch the void with unconventional options including Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos as the pivot.

The Frenchman finally made his awaited comeback to the squad in the team’s game against Valencia midweek. As he was returning from a relatively long time on the sidelines, Ancelotti preferred to have him start on the bench.

Tchouameni eventually entered the field in the 66th minute of the game when Toni Kroos asked to be substituted out for precaution. In his 24 minutes on the field, the youngster was almost flawless with 97% passes completed and 100% accurate long balls.

As Los Blancos gear up to play their second game in three days, the time could be right to re-incorporate the 23-year-old into the starting lineup. After all, Tchouameni has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent players this season and it is glaringly clear that they have missed him in recent weeks.

2. Two more casualties

No Benzema and Militao (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

The men in white produced 90 minutes of high-quality football against Los Che on Thursday and reduced the gap with Barcelona to a mere five points. However, the cost of the win was far more than what the manager would have liked to pay.

In return for the three points, Real Madrid saw Karim Benzema and Eder Militao leave the field with injuries to rub salt into Ancelotti’s fresh wounds.

The captain is expected to miss the next two games at least, leaving his team once again without a central striker. In Benzema’s absence, Ancelotti will have to put on his thinking hat and field a forward line that not only creates threats but also has the cutting edge to convert them.

Militao is also unavailable for Sunday’s game. With the Brazilian centre-back ruled out, Real Madrid will likely field a combination of Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez against Mallorca. After all, David Alaba is also returning fresh from injury and might not be fit to start the game.

3. Can Camavinga convince again?

It is almost criminal that a club of Real Madrid’s stature do not have a natural backup for the left-back position.

Ferland Mendy has been Ancelotti’s most preferred position in the player throughout the season. David Alaba was seen as a possible backup option, and though the Austrian International is capable of playing that role, he does not fancy the left-back position anymore.

When Mendy limped off injured in Real Madrid’s game against Atletico Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga thus emerged as a surprise option to fill his shoes. The youngster started the next two games at left-back and did a reasonable job, even earning praise from the manager.

With Tchouameni back running for the Merengues, the left-back role is the only available vacancy for the French International to claim a starting spot.

With Alaba returning, if Camavinga wishes for continuity as a starter, he must produce another exceptional display on Sunday and stake claim as the left-back until Mendy returns.

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