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Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona: Match Ratings



Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

The first El Clasico of the season has enthralled us just like we all expected it to and it is the defending Champions who have grabbed the bragging rights as the night ends 3-1 in their favour.

Real Madrid came into this game trying to add insult to injury on Barcelona’s disastrous Champions League campaign and regain their spot as the league leaders from the Catalan club.

Carlo Ancelotti lined up as expected against Xavi Hernandez’s men with Thibaut Courtois a big miss for the Madrid club. Andriy Lunin took his place in between the sticks in what was his Clasico debut.

The only other question mark in the lineup was whether Antonio Rudiger would be ready to start and Ancelotti chose not to risk the German defender and went with David Alaba and Eder Militao at the back.

The first half belonged to the La Liga Champions who turned it on in style at home. Ancelotti’s men went into the break leading 2-0. Apart from a couple of chances, Barcelona had nothing to offer in an attacking sense and Lunin remained largely untested.

As Los Blancos almost always do in the big games, Federico Valverde was preferred to Rodrygo on the right wing and the Uruguayan certainly did not disappoint, ending the game with a goal against his name.

Barcelona did show a little bit more fight and intent in the second half but the visitors were unable to penetrate Real Madrid’s sturdy defence. The visitors did pull back one late goal but Rodrygo’s penalty put the game to bed.

Andriy Lunin: 8

Had quite a few nervy moments in possession early on. The Ukrainian would have thanked his stars when Lewandowski uncharacteristically missed an open goal after a low cross from Raphinha.

Made a good save to stop Frenkie from scoring in the first half. A decent showing from the Real Madrid backup keeper who wouldn’t have been expecting such an easy match. Could not do much about Ferran’s goal, which was a moment of brilliance from Fati.

Daniel Carvajal: 7

Keeping Ousmane Dembele in check is not an easy task for any full-back in the world, but Carvajal did a fairly good job at it. Solid defensively, the Spaniard was a constant out ball on the right with Fede Valverde moving inside at every possible opportunity.

Had a couple of nervy moments in the second half with Fati and Alba causing him trouble and Ancelotti chose to take him off for the defensively solid Rudiger in the 87th minute.

Eder Militao: 9

Excellent in the air, winning a number of duels aerially against Lewandowski. Solid in possession, Militao had a great defensive showing and snuffed out every Barcelona attack that was thrown at him.

Absolutely bossed the Polish superstar who had to resort to theatrics to try and win a foul. Could not do much about a low cross into the box that Lewandowski backheeled into Ferran’s path.

David Alaba: 8

Fielded at centre-back today, the Austrian was his usual self, commanding the back line and extremely calm in possession.

Showed incredible awareness by stepping up at the right time to play Lewandowski offside on a couple of occasions in the first half. Equally solid in the second half as well and looked largely untroubled.

Ferland Mendy: 8

A solid first-half display from the Frenchman constantly overlapping Vini Jr and providing an option on the left. An assist against his name as he set Fede Valverde up for the second goal. Nothing spectacular from Mendy in the second half, but kept Dembele in check.

Aurelian Tchouameni: 7

Nothing spectacular from the Frenchman who just went about his business calmly. Yet another solid showing at the base of midfield from Tchouameni who is making sure that Real Madrid aren’t missing Casemiro this season.

Conceded a free-kick in a dangerous area by fouling Dembele but nothing came off it. Lost the ball in possession that allowed Fati to get a shot on goal that went just wide off the post. Solid nevertheless.

Luka Modric: 7

An ageless first-half display from the Croatian veteran who was excellent with his decision making in the first half.

Had a few sloppy moments in possession early in the second half but quickly regained his composure. Got booked for a silly foul on Pedri midway through the second half. Taken off for Camavinga in the 78th minute.

Toni Kroos: 9

Excellent strength and awareness by the German under pressure from Busquets to find Vini Jr. in the leadup to the first goal of the game. Solid in possession, as usual, keeping the ball ticking and spraying passes to those in front of him. A vintage performance from the German.

Federico Valverde: 9

Started in his auxiliary right-wing role but moved infield at every possible opportunity. Was at his energetic best, throwing himself around into tackles and making bursting runs forward.

Came up with a peach of a strike for Real Madrid’s second goal. Made a bursting run before passing the ball on to Rodrygo, who won the penalty late on.

Karim Benzema: 8

The goal drought is over for the French superstar, just one night before arguably the biggest day of his footballing career. Had another goal in the second half that was ruled out due to an offside. Worked tirelessly defensively and surely looked back to his very best. Was taken off for Marco Asensio late on

Vinicius Jr: 8

Would have been smacking his lips at the prospect of running at Barcelona right-back Sergi Roberto tonight. The Brazilian wrecked havoc right from the first minute and the rebound from his blocked shot was slotted home by Benzema for the first goal.

Played a crucial role in the second goal as well, with an excellent run before releasing the ball for Ferland Mendy to tee up Fede Valverde. Taken off for Rodrygo in the 84th minute.


Eduardo Camavinga: N/A

Came on for Luka Modric in the 78th minute. Did not make much of an impact.

Rodrygo: 8

Came on in the 84th minute and won a penalty for his side that he eventually slotted home.

Antonio Rudiger: N/A

Came on too late to make an impact.

Marco Asensio: N/A

Came on too late to make an impact

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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