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Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol: Player Ratings



Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid hosted Espanyol in Saturday’s early kickoff in their 25th league game of the season. Los Blancos were without Karim Benzema on the day and were dealt a fresh blow when Antonio Rudiger was deemed unfit to start ahead of the game.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men went behind early on in the game through Joselu’s wonder finish and were under pressure in the opening period. However, they did not lose control once they took over after the 15-minute mark.

Vinicius Jr and Eder Militao were on point later in the first half before Marco Asensio scored a third to give the Merengues all three points. The win over the Catalans brings Real Madrid within six points of Barcelona who play Athletic Club on Sunday.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Real Madrid’s game on Saturday.

Thibaut Courtois: 7

Not much the Belgian could do about Espanyol’s opening goal for he was brutally let down by his defence during the move. Yet, he made crucial saves in the opening period to prevent his side from going two goals down.

Dani Carvajal: 7

The right-back had an impressive first half, putting pressure on Espanyol’s makeshift left-back Leandro Cabrera. Made timely runs into the box and overlapped with Fede Valverde on the right to create threats. Completed the game with 15 defensive actions.

Eder Militao: 8.5

Was on the mark as early as the second minute to block Martin Braithwaite’s clear chance. Had his moment later in the half when he got onto the end of Aurelien Tchouameni’s pass to give the hosts the lead.

The Brazilian was solid defensively and completed close to 85% of his passes in the first half.

Nacho Fernandez: 8

Antonio Rudiger’s fitness troubles forced Nacho to start as a centre-back as opposed to the initially expected right-back position. Was confident and reassured defensively with clean distribution.

Covered for Camavinga defensively and moved to left-back for the final stretch. He was also responsible for the team’s third goal with a good run through Espanyol’s core.

Eduardo Camavinga: 6.5

Disappointing as a left-back, easily beaten by Ruben Sanchez for the opening goal. In addition to sloppy defence, he played the goalscorer Joselu onside. Was all over the place in his own area and did not contribute much to the attack either.

Moved to the midfield for the final part of the game and things improved for him.

Toni Kroos: 8

Kroos made his 400th appearance for the club on the night and became just the sixth non-Spanish player to reach that mark. Made two key passes and completed all eight attempted long balls in the first half.

The German was at the centre of every Real Madrid buildup and was instrumental in switching play between the flanks. Was a whisker away from scoring with a long-range shot in the 70th minute. Came off in the 73rd minute.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 7.5

Lost the ball that resulted in Joselu’s counter-attacking goal but made amends later in the half with a wonderful assist for Eder Militao’s goal. The French international lobbed a ball from the left side straight to the far post where the Brazilian pounced and scored.

Was safe in possession in the second half. Came off for the final 15 minutes having completed 95% of his passes and a whopping 16 successful defensive actions.

Luka Modric: 7

A relatively quiet but perfect outing for the Croatian international in the first period. Completed 100% of his attempted passes, crosses, long balls, dribbles and duels won at the halfway stage in addition to providing two key passes. Was more involved in the second period but came off for Asensio in the 71st minute.

Modric and Valverde were solid. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Federico Valverde: 7

The Uruguayan did not have the best of starts to the game but came to life after Espanyol’s left-back was booked. Combined well with Carvajal to generate danger on the right wing and made central runs to create spaces. Had a slow start to the second period and never got going again.

Moved to the midfield for the final part of the game.

Rodrygo: 6.5

The 22-year-old started as the centre-forward but often switched to the left flank to help with the buildup. Came close to scoring in the first half with a well-worked shot from outside the box.

Hit the crossbar with a fabulous free kick in the second half but was relatively quiet otherwise.

Vinicius Jr: 9

The Brazilian brought out his magic boots on the night to score Real Madrid’s equaliser. Starting on the left wing, he dribbled past the defence into the box and shot the ball into the far bottom corner in a stunning solo move.

Was the team’s best player in the final third by far in the second half, menacing the opposition from the wing and looking for Rodrygo centrally. Came off in the penultimate minute.


Marco Asensio: 8

Did not contribute much to the game after coming on until the 92nd minute when he executed a perfect finish for Real Madrid’s third.

Dani Ceballos: 7

Involved regularly in the buildup in the few minutes that he came on

Antonio Rudiger: 6.5

Came on late and stayed solid defensively. Denied Cabrera from a corner with a good interception.

Alvaro Rodriguez: NA

Came on very late.

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Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | La Liga



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona on their first trip to Spotify Camp Nou after more than a year.

The Catalans had not won against the Merengues at home since 2018 ahead of the game but a clutch goal from Franck Kessie helped them turn around the record.

Vinicius Jr opened the scoring early in the game by forcing an error and own goal from Ronald Araujo. The hosts levelled the score in the 45th minute through Sergi Roberto, before the winner arrived in stoppage time.

The game was not without its share of controversy as Real Madrid had a goal disallowed for offside that Ancelotti felt was unfair. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the fourth Clasico of the season.

1. Quality of full-backs

Real Madrid have etched their names into history as one of the most deadly counter-attacking teams in world football. Their pacey transitions and shifts of play have traditionally progressed through the wing with unreal speed to catch the opponent off-guard even in a momentary lapse in concentration.

Needless to say, the full-backs have always worked in tandem with the team’s wingers to make such speedy counters possible. The glaring problem at Real Madrid currently is that their full-backs do not provide half as much as they need to.

Los Blancos’ counterattack now seemingly consists of only Vinicius Jr on the left wing making a quick transition to find Karim Benzema. With just one outlet, it is difficult for the men in white to be effective.

The story at Spotify Camp Nou was very similar. Dani Carvajal started as the right-back and had a good showing defensively. Yet, he was virtually absent in the final third and left Real Madrid’s right-wing lifeless. In ninety minutes, he managed no crosses or long balls and had just one key pass.

The story at left-back was equally, if not more abysmal. Nacho Fernandez was the candidate deployed in the position and could also not manage a single cross, long ball or key pass on the night. He was eventually substituted for Ferland Mendy but the Frenchman could not do much either.

The difference in the quality of full-backs between Barcelona and Ancelotti’s side is gaping. The Catalans blazed through the wings on the night with Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde who constantly got forward in attack to stretch the men in white. In response, Real Madrid had nothing.

2. A dead right-wing and lack of intensity

Carvajal had a forgettable game (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It is imperative for any top football team to have the resources to attack both wings, for it is the constant switching of play that triggers errors from the opposition. For a club like Real Madrid to not have such resources is criminal.

The game against Barcelona was completely predictable given that the Merengues’ right wing was nonexistent. Any attack, almost surely, had to come down Vinicius’ wing and this made Barcelona’s defensive work easier.

Dani Carvajal was barely involved in the final third against the Catalans. That, coupled with Federico Valverde’s atrocious showing as the right-winger removed one side of the field from Real Madrid’s game.

Valverde made just 27 passes in 76 minutes and failed to make a single cross on the night. Further, he recorded just one key pass and one accurate long ball in El Clasico.

When Marco Asensio came on for Los Blancos, the equation completely turned around. The winger came on as a direct replacement for Valverde and happened to score the disallowed goal that was millimetres from giving Real Madrid three points.

More importantly, the move for the aforementioned goal was completely down the right flank, a testament to the alarming situation.

3. Goodbye La Liga?

When the clock at Spotify Camp Nou struck 81 minutes, the race for La Liga seemed to be on. Real Madrid had just scored a possible winner and had cut short their deficit with Barcelona to just six points.

Ten minutes later, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts. Their lead atop the league standings was suddenly twelve points with just 12 games to go.

History is witness that counting out Real Madrid does not fare well. However, it is difficult to surpass the supposition that the 12-point gap is too wide to bridge.

Los Blancos will continue to fight in the league, but Ancelotti will likely preserve his weapons for the UEFA Champions League where they face a bigger chance at glory.

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