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Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Standing ovation for Modric, Courtois has a stinker



Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

Sunday was the penultimate day of the second round of group stage fixtures in Qatar and it brought with it some of the most shocking results of the tournament.

The first game saw Japan take on Costa Rica. The Asians were the clear favourites heading into the game but came out second-best after conceding a late goal.

The most unexpected result of the day came when Morocco outclassed Belgium and put two goals past them to take all three points. The result could spell the end of the tournament for Roberto Martinez’s side.

Croatia then pummelled Canada by scoring four goals and stamped their authority in the World Cup as the former runners-up.

The highlight of the day came in the form of Spain vs Germany, a game that was arguably the biggest clash in the group stages. The two teams shared the spoils in a closely-battled encounter, however, as the game ended 1-1.

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

Luka Modric (Croatia vs Canada)

The 37-year-old started his nation’s second World Cup game and was once again the one casting the spells in the middle of the park. Alongside Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic, he took charge of creating chances on the day and wreaked havoc.

In 86 minutes on the field, Modric had 68 touches and 41 accurate passes with a completion rate of over 85%. Further, he recorded two key passes and created two big chances.

Despite being the oldest player on the field, he actively contributed to defence too with two interceptions, three tackles and four duels won, leaving the pitch with a standing ovation from fans.

Eden Hazard (Belgium vs Morocco)

Watching Eden Hazard’s evident regression from his status as an elite player is not easy. His intention to make a difference is visible, but his boots lack the same quality they used to possess.

The Belgian played until the hour mark against Morocco but barely contributed in the final third. He completed just 26 passes, made one key pass and had just one shot on target. His xG for the entire game was a mere 0.05, and that reflects the minimal level of threat he posed.

Thibaut Courtois (Belgium vs Morocco)

Courtois had an off night for Belgium against Morocco (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

On Sunday, the world witnessed what was perhaps Thibaut Courtois’ career-worst performance. The Belgian was the worst player on the field and is one of the biggest reasons why his side lost the plot in the second half.

He conceded cheaply in the first half via a well-taken freekick but was lucky that the goal was disallowed for offside.

Yet, Belgium conceded a carbon copy of the disallowed goal again in the 73rd minute, only that the Morocco players timed their run well the second time. Courtois let the ball slip past his hand at the near post, a mistake unacceptable at his level.

He made himself small for the second goal too and put up a helpless figure. Clearly, his confidence has taken a blow and it will be up to Roberto Martinez to fix the same. Nevertheless, the goalkeeper made two saves including one from inside the box.

Marco Asensio (Spain vs Germany)

After an explosive start to his World Cup campaign against Costa Rica, Marco Asensio faced a tough test against Germany on Sunday and he struggled to influence the game with the same effect.

He failed to take a shot on target and had just one key pass in his 66 minutes on the field. In terms of the buildup play too, Asensio was barely involved and will hope to bounce back stronger against Japan.

Dani Carvajal (Spain vs Germany)

Dani Carvajal received his first start in Qatar on Sunday and made a mixed impression.

On one side, the veteran did not make any glaring errors and was relatively safe in possession. Yet, it seemed like the Germans found it easier to foray into Spanish territory through his flank and easily exploited the spaces behind him.

He had just three defensive actions against Germany and was dribbled past twice. Nevertheless, the silver lining of his performance was that he completed 100% of the long balls he attempted.

Antonio Rudiger (Spain vs Germany)

The Real Madrid defender seemed to be the early hero on the night for Germany as he sent a powerful header past Unai Simon in the first half. However, his goal was instantly ruled out for offside.

Defensively, the game was far from his best. He had six defensive actions on a night when his partner registered 16. Moreover, he completed less than 85% of his attempted passes.

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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.

Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.

After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.

Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.

As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.

1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal

Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.

Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.

For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.

The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.

The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.

His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.

With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.

2. Concern shifts from right to left-back

The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.

Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.

Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.

David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.

The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.

Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.

3. No margin for error

Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.

Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.

The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.

Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.

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