The second leg of the Round of 16 clash between Real Madrid and Paris-Saint Germain was set at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Los Blancos lost by a slim one-goal margin in the first leg and needed at least two goals against the French side to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Carlo Ancelotti took some bold decisions with the lineup on the night. Toni Kroos started in midfield alongside Luka Modric and Federico Valverde despite not being fully fit. Nacho started at left-back while Marco Asensio started ahead of Rodrygo in attack.
The hosts began on the front foot, pressing high and unsettling Pochettino’s side early on. Yet, the intensity died down less than 15 minutes into the game. Karim Benzema had Real Madrid’s first big chance in the 25th minute when he lashed the ball past the left post.
From there on, the French outfit took over and began dominating the possession. Messi took a close shot in the 31st minute but his effort went wide. PSG seemed to have got the lead four minutes later through a Kylian Mbappe finish. The goal was immediately ruled out, however, because of an offside position in the buildup.
In the 39th minute, Real Madrid went a goal down after Mbappe neatly worked the ball past Courtois. It was Neymar who set the Frenchman free, but one felt the goalkeeper could have done better. The first half ended with Real Madrid chasing two goals on aggregate with a big second half ahead of them.
The first big chance of the second half fell to Mbappe once again. The PSG winger yet again converted his chance and scored, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
A big moment in the game arrived at the hour mark when Donnarumma lost the ball to Benzema in the box. The rebound fell to Vinicius who linked up with Benzema for the equaliser on the night.
After Benzema’s goal, Los Blancos looked rejuvenated. The attacks intensified with Benzema receiving a few direct chances to score. With thirty minutes on the clock, Real Madrid needed one goal to force extra time.
Karim Benzema was the man to step up to the occasion once again in the 75th minute. When his team needed him the most, the striker picked up the ball in the box and fired it past a helpless Donnarumma.
Just a minute later, he completed his hat-trick and gave Real Madrid the lead on aggregate when he capitalized on a Marquinhos error.
Despite their best effort, PSG could not find a way back into the tie. Real Madrid pulled off a stunning comeback to oust the Ligue 1 leaders. They now move into the last eight of the UCL, high on confidence.
Three talking points ahead of RCD Mallorca vs Real Madrid
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
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.