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Real Madrid 5-1 Celtic: Player ratings



Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Real Madrid just needed a win on Wednesday night to guarantee themselves the top spot in Group F of the UEFA Champions League. Yet, they orchestrated the complete demolition of Celtic at Santiago Bernabeu to jump atop the standings.

The first half was nervy, with the visitors not too far behind Carlo Ancelotti’s men in terms of quality. However, Real Madrid turned up the heat in the second half and showed why they were the defending European Champions.

Federico Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius, Marco Asensio and Luka Modric all got a slice of the cake with goals on the night. Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Real Madrid’s humbling at the Bernabeu.

Thibaut Courtois: 9

The Belgian had a sublime first-half performance with the highlight of his display being a penalty save. Made two more saves from inside the box in the opening period to maintain his team’s lead. Recorded a further three saves in the second period and even got his glove to the goal eventually conceded.

Daniel Carvajal: 7

Solid in defence with four defensive actions, also created two chances and took one shot on goal. Made was for Lucas Vazquez in the second half.

Eder Militao: 8

Did exceedingly well to keep Reo Hatate’s shot out six minutes past the hour mark. Made five clearances, two recoveries and one headed clearance on the night. Further, he won 100% of his ground duels and an aerial duel. The best defender on the field by far.

David Alaba: 7

Not a particularly flashy display for the Austrian International but did the dirty work to keep his side in the running for a clean sheet as long as he was on the field. Made six defensive actions in his 66 minutes before he made way for Nacho.

Ferland Mendy: 6.5

The Frenchman was once again silent in attack but reliable in defence. Was responsible for the one black mark on the team’s performance – the penalty conceded in the first half courtesy of sloppy defending to take down Abada.

Federico Valverde: 9

It was the Uruguayan’s powerful strike in the fifth minute that won Real Madrid the first penalty after striking Jenz’s arm. Constantly tested Joe Hart from distance, and created two chances in just the first 45 minutes.

Can claim full credit for Real Madrid’s fourth goal as he created the chance out of nothing with his powerful cross to Vinicius. Got the cherry on the cake with an unstoppable shot from outside the box to make it five on the night.

Toni Kroos: 7

Crossed 100 passes, as is the norm for the German midfielder. Silent but instrumental in possession, worked hard off of it.

Luka Modric: 7.5

Stepped up to take Los Blancos‘ first penalty in the fifth minute and calmly buried it into the bottom corner to give them the lead. Controlled the midfield and broke Celtic’s defence with ease time and time again. Was critical in the buildup that resulted in the second spot-kick too. Came off for Dani Ceballos in the 66th minute.

Marco Asensio: 9.5

A world-class display from the Spaniard who was involved in almost every attack for the men in white. Was involved in the buildup to both penalties, bamboozling the visitors’ defence with his cheeky passes.

Scored a banger in the 51st minute as he smashed the ball past Joe Hart to make it 3-0. Also got the pre-assist for the team’s fourth goal before directly assisting Valverde for the fifth.

Rodrygo Goes: 8.5

The youngster was instrumental in winning the second penalty on the night as his shot struck O’Riley’s arm in an unnatural position in the box. Stepped up and calmly dispatched the ball to double his team’s lead. Created a massive chance for Vinicius in the 22nd minute with a lovely bit of solo play but saw the chance go begging.

Vinicius Jr: 8

The Brazilian was active in front of the goal in the first half but just could not find the back of the net. Missed one of the easiest chances of the game from Rodrygo’s phenomenal cross when he failed to bury the ball into an open net.

Eventually found the back of the net in the 61st minute when he got onto the end of Fede Valverde’s powerful cross across the face of the goal. Made way for Karim Benzema in the 64th minute.


Karim Benzema: 6

Involved heavily in the buildup but failed to create any clear threat in front of the goal. Clearly missing match fitness.

Lucas Vasquez: 7

Conceded the set piece that resulted in Celtic’s only goal of the night. Nevertheless, a good all-round display with four defensive actions and one chance created in less than 30 minutes.

Dani Ceballos: 6.5

Did well to cover for Luka Modric, and created one big chance.

Nacho: 5

Poor effort in defending Celtic’s freekick. No contribution worth mentioning during his cameo.

Jesus Vallejo: 6.5

A good and short cameo for the Spaniard. Calm defensively made four interventions in just 17 minutes.

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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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