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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 Sevilla vs Real Madrid



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Valladolid was far from convincing. They may have been the more effective side, but the Merengues were far from being the better team against Andoni Iraola’s men.

Saturday brings with it the team’s penultimate game of the campaign as Real Madrid take on Sevilla. The Andalusian side have not been impressive in La Liga this season but have always been one to turn up against the big teams. Tomorrow’s game is expected to be no different.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make drastic changes ahead of kickoff, especially given the incomplete squad travelling for the game. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.

1. Final game on the road

The 2022-23 season has flown by in the blink of an eye. It may have been a rocky campaign and could have ended with better results, but there is a feeling that the squad has a lot to take away from the season as it is.

From the highs of completing a special Copa del Rey comeback win over Barcelona to the lows of losing three successive Clasicos, the men in white have seen it all. As the season now approaches the curtain-closing phase, Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be eager for a strong finish.

Sunday night will see the Merengues‘ final away game of the season as they travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan to take on Sevilla. The 2021-22 champions have not had the best of seasons on the road in La Liga this season and a statement finish would go a long way in boosting the morale.

Sevilla have been far from their best this campaign domestically. Though they are well placed to taste glory in the UEFA Europa League once again, they languish in tenth place on the league standings with just 13 wins in 36 games.

Los Blancos boast a fine record at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and are unbeaten at the stadium in their last eight appearances. Their last defeat at the venue came back in 2018, and the objective tonight will be to extend the aforementioned streak.

2. Tchouameni’s point to prove

Point to prove. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

As much as Aurelien Tchouameni’s initial months at the club were called paradise, the Frenchman has not had life easy at Real Madrid in his first season.

The Frenchman initially stepped in as a more than able replacement for Casemiro in the middle of the park. His astute reading of the game and defensive awareness made him a monster in midfield and his position in the starting lineup appeared safe.

Tchouameni’s situation, however, took a steep turn after the FIFA World Cup. Coming back from a fatiguing World Cup and a minor niggle, the defensive midfielder no longer found his name on the starting lineup as he became second fiddle to Eduardo Camavinga.

The entry of Toni Kroos as an option for the pivot role further reduced the Frenchman’s involvement.

The youngster thus has a point to prove on Sunday night. He is expected to start at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and will look to orchestrate the team’s play from deep in midfield whilst holding the fortress simultaneously. After all, it could be his final chance to prove his worth ahead of the new season.

3. Only three forwards

Real Madrid’s squad list only names three forwards making the trip to Seville to take on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side – Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, and Alvaro Rodriguez.

The manager does have a fourth option in Federico Valverde and could look to mix and match his options on the night. However, Carlo Ancelotti maintained a low profile on the starting lineup ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially when asked about Eden Hazard’s chances of participating.

Given that it is the team’s penultimate game of the season, Ancelotti could well look to start all three pure forwards on the night. After all, each has their own special reason to participate.

For Hazard, the game against Sevilla could well be his final away game in a Real Madrid shirt. The Belgian is reluctant to leave the club at the moment, but everything could change in June if he begins to attract interest.

In Alvaro Rodriguez’s case, tomorrow’s game presents itself as an audition to seal a place in next season’s dynamics. The youngster has impressed whenever given the chance so far and will look to keep his high level going.

Rodrygo Goes, arguably, needs the game the least of the three candidates. Yet, with Ancelotti publicly asking him to take more prominence, he has a point to prove.

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