The incredible story of Lionel Messi and his stellar career saw a fairytale episode on Sunday when Argentina got the better of France in an enthralling battle at Lusail Stadium.
It was not a game for the weak-hearted, as the tempo fluctuated between the two teams voraciously. Argentina were clearly the better team for 70 minutes, but what followed was absolute mayhem.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring against France with an ice-cool finish from the penalty spot after Ousmane Dembele brought down Angel Di Maria in the box. Soon after, the Juventus star doubled his country’s lead with a lethal counter-attacking goal that left the world in awe.
Heading into the final fifteen minutes of the game, Lionel Scaloni’s side seemed to have things under control. Yet, the script was just beginning its cruel series of twists and turns.
A terrible error from Nicolas Otamendi gifted the defending champions a way back as Kylian Mbappe scored from the penalty spot in the resulting spot-kick. 96 seconds later, the PSG star scored a stunning volley beyond the reach of Emiliano Martinez.
Extra time was not devoid of action either, but it was Argentina that dominated and got their third goal via Messi. Less than ten minutes away from utopia, the ball painfully struck Gonzalo Montiel’s hand and gifted France a second penalty. Unsurprisingly, Mbappe took it with both hands.
The World Cup finals went to penalties for just the third time in the history of the competition, but it was Argentina who finally prevailed with four perfect spot-kicks.
Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players in the biggest football game of the year.
The Real Madrid midfielder started the final in his first-ever World Cup but saw a rough result and a dismal performance. There was little if any merit to his 120 minutes on the pitch and the night ended in the worst way possible.
Tasked with containing Rodrigo De Paul and Lionel Messi in the deeper parts of the field, the youngster struggled to deliver. Argentina passed their way past the French midfield with ridiculous ease time and time again in the first half, and it is clear that Tchouameni was among the ones responsible.
He had 86 touches in 120 minutes and completed 54 passes with a poor completion rate of less than 75%. Further, he lost possession a whopping 22 times on the evening.
His defensive numbers provide some support to his poor game, as he managed two clearances, two interceptions and a tackle. Further, he won five ground duels and one aerial duel while on the field.
Kylian Mbappe’s magic helped Les Bleus reach the penalty shootout at Lusail Stadium, but Tchouameni’s missed penalty stopped the party. Kingsley Coman’s miss from the spot put the defending champions under pressure early in the shootout, and the Real Madrid player’s lack of experience got brutally exposed.
Stepping up to take the shot for his team, one could see the nervousness in Tchouameni’s body language. His shot did not even test Emiliano Martinez as it flashed well wide of the left post.
With his team down by two goals, Didier Deschamps called upon Eduardo Camavinga to light a spark in the middle of the field in the 71st minute. Playing perhaps the most important cameo in his career thus far, the young phenom proved exactly why the manager called him up to the squad.
He had not played a single minute in the knockout stages until that point, yet did what the great Antoine Griezmann could not – get France on the offensive. He spent just under 50 minutes on the field and it was no coincidence that France’s two goals came moments after his coming on.
Camavinga completed a whopping 91% of his attempted passes against the high press of Argentina whilst also providing two key passes. He had a successful dribble, three tackles and won seven duels, showing the world why he is so highly rated.
As Carlo Ancelotti said earlier this season, the youngster’s true talents come out when he makes an appearance off the bench. There is still a lot for him to learn if he is to be a starter, however.
Three talking points ahead of Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid | La Liga GW 25
Nestled in the outskirts of Madrid is Vallecas, the home of Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid’s next destination as per the La Liga calendar. The Estadio de Vallecas is famed as one the Spain’s more difficult stadiums for away sides to perform at, but as the league leaders, Real Madrid will gun for nothing short of a win tomorrow.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men enter the game on Sunday with a five-point lead at the top of the table. With five wins in their last six games across all competitions, they also have the momentum on their side.
Their opponents, meanwhile, are not on quite similar terms based on form. Rayo Vallecano have won just five of their 24 league games this season and have scored just 21 times in that duration. Moreover, they currently sit in 14th place on the standings, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid.
Test for the attack
Very few teams have been able to avoid the wrath of Real Madrid this season. The men in white have come out on top in most of the clashes that they have played across all competitions, winning 100% of the UCL games and 19 of their 24 games in La Liga.
Rayo Vallecano is one of the few teams that has managed to take points off the leaders this season, and that goes a long way in establishing their defensive supremacy and resilience this term.
When Vallecano visited the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this season, they ground out a 0-0 draw. Notably, they are the only team other than Atletico Madrid this season to take points away from Real Madrid at home.
Los Blancos created several chances on the night and even missed two big chances. However, the truth behind the statistics is that Rayo Vallecano’s defence was on point, with Stole Dimitrievski dishing out a clinic in goal.
Heading into tomorrow’s clash, all eyes will thus be on the attack. Will Real Madrid’s dynamic forward unit succeed in getting past the defensive unit that plagued them back in November?
Champion worthy team
Everything about Ancelotti’s side this season screams of the word champion. After all, they have made it look ridiculously easy to drop high-class performances week after week, all while battling with debilitating hurdles along the way.
Purely from a fitness perspective, the 2023-24 campaign has been far from simple for Los Blancos. Having lost three players to ACL injuries in addition to the regular list of shorter injuries players have suffered, the manager has never had the entire squad at his disposal.
Yet, the players drop sensational performances whenever called on. Be it in their niche position or a completely alien one in that, every player donning the Real Madrid crest this season has delivered beyond expectations. That, if anything, is the mark of a champion unit.
The Merengues showed their grit and determination to take down Girona by a 4-0 scoreline earlier this month before pulling away with a tight, yet well-fought 1-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League.
They head into tomorrow’s clash riding on the same momentum, knowing full well that every win from this point only engraves their name deeper on the league trophy. As long as the fire continues to burn in them, it will take something very special to take apart this Real Madrid unit.
Nearly at the end of the tunnel
Of all the dilemmas Carlo Ancelotti has faced over the course of the season, his recent defensive crisis was the most serious by far. The manager was pushed into a situation where he had no fit centre-backs to call on, forcing him to start Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni in defence.
Not many expected the same game to turn out to be Real Madrid’s best showing of the season, and though both makeshift defenders put in enormous shifts, Nacho Fernandez’s return for the next game came as a welcome arrival.
The Spaniard is fit for tomorrow’s clash and will be joined by Aurelien Tchouameni once again, for Antonio Rudiger is yet to receive the medical all-clear. Considering that the German is expected to be fit in time for Real Madrid’s next league clash, tomorrow could be the last time the French midfielder is forced to play out of position in defence.
Needless to say, this can only be described as the light at the end of a long and winding tunnel. Tchouameni put in a tremendous shift to ensure that the handicap did not affect Real Madrid’s season, and the manager will be delighted to see that the days with two fit central defenders are not far away.