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Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City: Player Ratings



Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid have, somehow, once again, done the impossible. After trailing against Manchester City courtesy of a goal from Riyad Mahrez in the 73rd minute, a heroic brace from Rodrygo took the clash to extra-time.

Karim Benzema was handed the opportunity to take the lead on the golden platter by Ruben Dias, who made a clumsy challenge. The Frenchman calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.

With Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League finals once again, we run the rule over their performance from tonight.

Thibaut Courtois: 9.5

Game-winner, game-changer, and inarguably one of the best in his position in the world. Courtois made eight saves, including three absolute worldies, to keep Madrid in the game.

Daniel Carvajal: 7

Was troubled by Foden and Jesus but did well to keep his composure till the final whistle was blown. Unlucky to not walk out with an assist.

Eder Militao: 7

Militao, much like Carvajal, had trouble against Man City’s break, but made some clutch challenges in their defensive third, especially one against Foden in extra time.

Nacho Fernandez: 9

Filling in for David Alaba, Nacho was utterly sensational. He was often the last man defending and was called into action several times against a fresh Raheem Sterling. Did not disappoint.

Ferland Mendy: 7

Not much can be made of Mendy’s performance; he should perhaps have done better to mark Mahrez for the goal, but other than that, he did well to hold the fort on the left.

Casemiro: 6

Way too clumsy in the opening minutes, could have easily been sent off on another day. Was sent to the shops defending against Bernardo Silva too often.

Toni Kroos: 6

Playing as part of a double pivot, Kroos had too many defensive duties to influence the game as he would have liked to.

Federico Valverde: 7.5

Valverde, as one would expect, ran the length of the pitch multiple times over till the final whistle blew. Was instrumental to Madrid’s defensive shape.

Luka Modric: 6.5

Another part of the Madrid midfield that struggled to cope against Bernardo Silva and Rodri. Did well to press every single opposition, though.

Vinicius Jr: 7

Kyle Walker was tremendous against Vinicius, and did not give him an ounce of space. However, once he was subbed off, the Brazilian had a lot of space to carry the ball and did his job well.

Karim Benzema: 8.5

Eventually, the game-winner, as he has been oh-so-often this season, Benzema cannot be faulted for this game. Won the penalty, created a number of chances, and ran the attack.


Rodrygo: 9.5

Rodrygo’s rise to fame as Madrid’s cult hero has been sensational, and we saw much of the same tonight as the Brazilian scored two goals in two minutes after the 90th minute. Super sub, if there ever was one.

Eduardo Camavinga: 10

Inarguably Madrid’s best performer on the night, Camavinga came on to unbelievable impact. He essentially created the equaliser, and was omnipresent defensively. Pretty much ended Bernardo’s rule of the midfield single-handedly.

Marco Asensio: 7

While Asensio’s impact was nowhere close to that of Rodrygo, he got the assist for the header, and has to be credited for the same.

Dani Ceballos: 7

Came on to help see the game out in midfield, and was successful.

Lucas Vazquez: N/A

Came on to help see the game out, did not participate enough to warrant a rating.

Jesus Vallejo: N/A

Replaced the injured Militao, did not participate enough to warrant a rating.

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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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