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Real Madrid World Cup spotlight: Tchouameni on target as France enter semifinals



Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Every game in the World Cup is special in its own way, yet, Saturday just seemed to have that extra layer of cream. Two quarterfinals were played on the night, both having their own unique stories to tell.

The first game of the night saw the Moroccan team take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, the clear favourites of the tie, for a spot in the semifinal. No African side had ever made it to the last four in the World Cup before, but that was going to change at Al Thumama Stadium.

Walid Regragui’s men matched Portugal like-for-like in the opening minutes and took the lead in the 42nd through Youssef En Nesyri’s outstanding header. The 2016 European Champions pushed hard but could not create many solid chances past Morocco’s resilient defence.

Ultimately, the game ended in heartbreak for Ronaldo and Portugal and jubilation for Morocco who became the first side from their continent to make the semifinals.

Later in the night, the world witnessed a battle between two equals. England and France had both impressed in their run-up to the last eight. The two sides fought tooth and nail in an enthralling game involving three goals, but it was the defending champions who took the spoils.

Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchouameni opened the scoring, but England equalised through a Harry Kane penalty. It was Olivier Giroud who gave them the lead late on in the game, but the Three Lions were presented with another penalty moments later to restore parity. Stepping up for the second time against Hugo Lloris, Kane misplaced his shot and sent England crashing out of the tournament.

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

Aurelien Tchouameni (France vs England)

France’s outing against England saw Aurelien Tchouameni go through a roller coaster of experiences, emotions and feelings. He was the hero at one point, but also equally responsible as the villain at other moments in the game.

The Real Madrid midfielder once again started for Didier Deschamps’ side, riding on the back of his superb form thus far. He was deployed alongside Adrien Rabiot in the deep midfield.

His night went into a state of paradise in the 17th minute when he scored a golazo for Les Bleus. The move began in a quick sequence of passes between Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann who passed the ball to Tchouameni who took one touch and struck the ball hard, through the legs of Jude Bellingham and past Jordan Pickford.

Ironically, it was Tchouameni who gave away the equalising penalty to England with a senseless challenge. Bukayo Saka’s menacing run in the French box led to a moment of madness from the Real Madrid ace’s end, tripping the Englishman in the box. The referee did not have to think twice about his decision and pointed to the spot.

Apart from his massive error in judgement in defence, he had a moderate game given the amount of pressure Gareth Southgate’s side put him under. Tchouameni made a crucial intervention in just the second minute of the game to deny Phil Foden’s ball into the area and broke the English play and most of his game followed suit.

In ninety minutes, the youngster recorded 48 touches and completed 37 passes with a success rate of 91%. He made one key tackle and won five duels but did not have too much more to contribute.

In short, France’s midfield was overrun by the English midfield on the night but Tchouameni did well to hold on to the wild game and hamper the opponents’ progress down the middle of the park.

Eduardo Camavinga (France vs England)

As expected, Camavinga did not participate in the quarterfinal tie and stayed on the bench throughout the ninety minutes. Deschamps did not turn to his bench except for Kingsley Coman in the 79th minute.

Camavinga may not have a role to play in the rest of France’s campaign, but sharing the dressing room with such a team will go a long way in developing his game.

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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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