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Real Madrid World Cup spotlight: Asensio, Courtois shine, but Hazard underwhelms

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Wednesday brought with it some of the 2022 FIFA Word Cup’s most important results. There were shocks and surprises, both good and bad, as a new set of teams made their debut in Qatar and showed the world what they bring to the table.

The day kicked off with a clash between 2018 runners-up Croatia and Morocco. Luka Modric’s side were expected to coast to a win in their opener but could only manage a stale draw. 

The action then shifted to Germany vs Japan, a game that brought with it arguably the biggest talking point of the day. After taking an early lead against the Asians, Germany lost the plot in the closing minutes and conceded twice to forfeit all three points. 

Spain then took on and demolished Costa Rica by seven goals, the highest number of goals ever scored by La Roja in a World Cup game. Luis Enrique’s side announced their arrival in style and could not have dreamt of a better start in Qatar.

The final game of the day saw Belgium defeat Canada by one goal. However, the game had no dearth of action as the Red Devils were made to work hard for all three points.

Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on the night.

Luka Modric (Croatia vs Morocco)

While the 2018 edition of the World Cup saw just one goalless draw, there has been no shortage of 0-0 scorelines in Qatar. Croatia were expected to open their campaign with a bang after their deep run four years ago, but were forced to settle for just one point without even finding the back of the net once.

While the game in itself was uninspiring and lacking in attacking chances, Croatia’s team revolved around Luka Modric for any sort of initiative on the ball. The midfielder was everywhere on the pitch, commanding his defence at times and also creating a spark in the final third.

Croatia’s orchestrator-in-chief had 107 touches on the night and attempted a whopping nine crosses and eight long balls while also making close to ten defensive contributions. He was named the Man of the Match for his tireless 90 minutes, and rightfully so.

Antonio Rudiger (Germany vs Japan)

Germany’s defeat to Japan was the most shocking result of Wednesday, especially considering that they were leading with 15 minutes to go. To concede two goals from there on and lose the match does not read well for the German defence, and Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger was part of the backline that collapsed.

The former Chelsea player did not do much wrong on the night and was solid for most parts of the game. He won 100% of his duels, made five recoveries, two clearances and two blocks. At the same time, he missed one big chance at the other end.

But there was more than one instance in the second half when he appeared to take things lightly against Japan. Nevertheless, questions need to be asked of the German defence after a collapse like Wednesday’s.

Marco Asensio (Spain vs Costa Rica)

Luis Enrique gave Asensio a start in Spain’s curtain-raiser and the Real Madrid forward did not disappoint. In a team that has lacked a decisive figure in front of the goal in recent years, Asensio played that role when needed whilst dropping into the spaces during the buildup.

He scored La Roja’s second goal with a well-timed half-volley off Jordi Alba’s cross and was a constant threat in Costa Rica’s area. He had one shot on target out of four total shots and even had one blocked attempt. Simply put, Asensio made a strong case to be a regular starter for Luis Enrique’s side.

Dani Carvajal (Spain vs Costa Rica)

The veteran stayed on the bench through the ninety minutes as the manager opted to give Cesar Azpilicueta the start at right-back. 

Thibaut Courtois (Belgium vs Canada)

Courtois starred for Belgium against Canada (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Thibaut Courtois has set high standards for himself through his consistently top-class displays at the club level. Starting for the Red Devils against Canada, he was once again at his surreal best to see his side to a narrow 1-0 win.

In the ninth minute of the game, Tajon Buchanan won a penalty for his team and Belgium seemed set to go behind. However, Courtois stopped Alphonso Davies with a perfect dive to deny the North American side.

In addition to the saved penalty, the Belgian also made three saves from inside the box and completed close to 80% of his passes.

Eden Hazard (Belgium vs Canada)

Handed a start by Robert Martinez against Canada, Eden Hazard disappointed once again. Yet, it was not unexpected given the forward’s horrendous form for Real Madrid.

In over an hour on the field, Hazard failed to take a single shot both on and off the target. His contributions on the field were close to nothing, especially in attack. Hazard was eventually replaced by Leandro Trossard in the 62nd minute.

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Features

Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Vinicius, Rodrygo, Militao advance to the Round of 16

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Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The second round of group-stage fixtures in Qatar came to a close on Monday in what was a day of very high-quality football. The first two games alone accounted for 11 goals in what was the highest tally in a day in this edition.

The first game saw Serbia and Cameroon face off in an epic clash that saw no end of twists and turns. The game ended 3-3 with the teams sharing the points.

The next game saw South Korea go 2-0 down quickly against Ghana before coming back in the second half. However, the African side scored once again on demand to steer themselves to a win.

Brazil needed a late winner from Casemiro to break the deadlock against Switzerland in the third game and secured their spot in the Round of 16.

The last game between Portugal and Uruguay was expected to be a match of equals. That perception quickly changed when the Europeans produced a dominant performance and killed off the game with two goals.

Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Monday.

Vinicius Jr (Brazil vs Switzerland)

Over the past few years, Vinicius Jr has carved out a reputation for being a thorn in defenders’ feet, be it with his world-class dribbling or his antics. As one of the best young wingers in business, he stands out in chance creation even when faced against the best in the business.

However, it appeared like Silvan Widmer had Vinicius in his pockets for large parts of the game. The two created a fabulous battle down Brazil’s left-wing but it was often the Real Madrid player who came second best.

The youngster scored a goal in the 66th minute with a perfectly placed shot after beating his man. However, it was ruled out for an offside intervention after the VAR review.

Apart from sporadic moments of magic, Vinicius did not offer much. He had just one shot on target, completed just one of his five attempted dribbles and missed one big chance. Moreover, he did not complete a single cross accurately and lost more than 50% of his duels. But he was involved in the buildup to the goal.

Eder Militao (Brazil vs Switzerland)

After spending 90 minutes on the bench against Serbia, Militao received his first World Cup start on Monday night. However, the manager deployed him as the right-back as opposed to his usual position in central defence.

Despite playing in a foreign position, the Brazilian was convincing in defence and stopped the likes of Ruben Vargas and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Understandably, Militao did not look to burst into the final third and create chances like a traditional full-back but was still heavily linked in the build-up play. He completed 87% of his attempted passes, five out of eight long balls and even provided a key pass.

Rodrygo Goes (Brazil vs Switzerland)

Rodrygo impressed after coming on from the bench (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)

After Brazil’s underwhelming first half, the manager turned to Rodrygo at the start of the second period. The youngster came on for Lucas Paqueta at halftime in an attempt to ramp up Selecao’s threat in the final third and the decision paid off.

It was the young sensation who assisted Casemiro’s goal in the 83rd minute. Receiving the ball from Vinicius, Rodrygo just flicked the ball away from defenders and into the feet of Casemiro to set up an ideal half-volley.

Apart from his assist, the Real Madrid man came painfully close to scoring in the 94th minute only to be denied by Manuel Akanji. He had one shot on target, one blocked, and a key pass.

Federico Valverde (Uruguay vs Portugal)

Uruguay have perhaps been the most disappointing team in the World Cup this year. The squad is filled with quality players from Rodrigo Bentancur and Darwin Nunez to Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Diego Godin.

The South Americans once again dished out an average game against Portugal, but it was Valverde who seemed the most inspiring in the Uruguayan team.

The in-form midfielder did not pose much threat to the goal on the night but worked like a machine off the ball. He recorded three interceptions, and two tackles, and won two tackles against Fernando Santos’ side in addition to a key pass and a big chance created. 

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