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Real Madrid 2-3 Chelsea: Player Ratings

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

No one could have predicted the twists and turns that yesterday’s Champions League clash witnessed. Real Madrid were expected to cruise to an easy win over the defending champions after a commanding 3-1 win in the first leg.

However, what unfolded at the Santiago Bernabeu was a cracker of a game. Chelsea scored three goals to take the lead over Real Madrid before the hosts pulled two back to advance to the semifinals.

The game showed that Los Blancos have their shortcomings, but also showed that they can turn up the heat whenever needed and overwhelm even the best teams in the world.

Thibaut Courtois: 8

The Belgian shot-stopper can just never have a poor outing. The bigger the game, the better is Courtois’s performance.

When faced against his former club in a high-pressure game, the 29-year-old made four key saves including three from inside the box. It was his diving save against Ziyech’s shot in the 114th minute that denied Chelsea a late equaliser.

Daniel Carvajal: 6

Tasked with keeping a hold on Timo Werner and Marcos Alonso, Carvajal had a rather mixed night. Alonso got the better of him more often than not, both inside and outside the box, but Carvajal made up for that with his defending after being placed as a centre-back.

Nacho Fernandez: 7

The absence of Eder Militao was expected to create a big weakness in Real Madrid’s backline, for the Brazilian has been a solid partner to David Alaba this season.

However, the void was barely felt in the game as long as Nacho was on the field. Up until his injury, the Spaniard provided a steady performance though he did have his fair share of forgettable moments.

David Alaba: 6

In the opening hour, Real Madrid’s defence seemed clueless on how to stop Chelsea. However, the defence stepped up when it was needed the most and Alaba was one of the key players in that respect.

The Austrian had five tackles, three clearances and blocked one shot on the night at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ferland Mendy: 5

It was one of those nights where Mendy seemed one step behind the rest of the team. While the rest of the players tried to create openings and traverse forward, the French international struggled in the final third and managed only one cross.

Luka Modric: 9

Age is just a number for Luka Modric, for the Croatian international shows no signs of regression. To say that Real Madrid are still in the Champions League because of the midfielder would be fair.

When Chelsea scored their third goal, and all hope seemed lost, it was Modric who created an opening for his team out of absolutely nothing. The veteran played an unbelievable outside-the-boot pass into the English side’s box and laid it on a platter for Rodrygo.

Casemiro: 7

For the opening period, Casemiro looked overwhelmed by the pressure and failed to provide the resistance he normally brings to the game. However, his display improved as the game progressed.

Given Chelsea’s continuous waves of attacks, Casemiro could not make any contribution in the final third. Yet, his ten duels won and four tackles show his work rate and dedication.

Toni Kroos: 4

Of Real Madrid’s three big names in midfield, Kroos had the most forgettable night. While the German made no mistakes per se, he failed to have the impact he would have liked to on the night.

Federico Valverde: 8

Even after 100 exhausting minutes and when substitutes themselves began to tire, there was one man who was running around and winning balls without breaking a sweat. The win would not have been possible without him.

Karim Benzema: 8.5

Cometh the occasion, cometh Karim Benzema. There is no way to keep the French striker out of action, for he always finds ways to be the decisive player for Los Blancos.

With the score tied at 4-4 on aggregate and his team needing a goal in extra time to advance, Benzema found the back of the net. In addition to his goal, he had three key passes and even hit the woodwork once.

Vinicius Jr: 8

The Brazilian international was a thorn in the Chelsea defenders’ feet throughout the 115 minutes he spent on the pitch. In the end, he was rewarded with the assist for the winning goal.

SUBSTITUTES:

Eduardo Camavinga: 7

The youngster came on for Kroos and kept the team ticking through the game. His performance definitely went under the radar, but his substitution was inarguably game-changing for Ancelotti’s men.

Rodrygo: 8

When the team needed a goal to stay alive in the game, Rodrygo came through with the movement and finish of a poacher. While it was Modric’s pass that created the chance for his side, nothing should be taken away from the Brazilian’s finish.

Marcelo: 7

Marcelo played 42 minutes in the game, replacing Ferland Mendy. He did not have a big impact on the result, but did more defensively that one would have expected.

Lucas Vazquez: 7.5

The fullback came on for the final 30 minutes and helped keep the likes of Ziyech and Alonso in check for the final 15 minutes of the game.

Dani Ceballos: NA

Did not play long enough to warrant a rating.

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Features

Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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