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Three talking points ahead of RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid | UEFA Champions League



Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

The Red Bull Arena awaits a spectacular clash on Tuesday night as the UEFA Champions League returns after a long hiatus. It will be Real Madrid’s first game of the knockout stages against an opposition that can never be written off in RB Leipzig.

RB Leipzig may not be enjoying a run as emphatic as they did last season in the Bundesliga, but have established themselves as one of the league’s biggest clubs at this point. After 21 games in the Bundesliga so far, Marco Rose’s men sit in fifth place with 37 points, 18 points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Recent weeks have been far from ideal for Leipzig, and they have lost three of their last five outings and won just one. What is more striking is that they have conceded a total of 11 goals in that duration.

Real Madrid, coming on the back of a resounding win over Girona, will fancy their chances of taking home a solid lead, but it is clear that form is not a factor when it comes to the UCL.

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

Objective Europe

The 4-0 win Real Madrid surfed to over Girona last weekend had implications that supersede boundaries. After all, it can be described as the game that gave Los Blancos that league title and opened their wings on other avenues.

One of the most challenging elements for Carlo Ancelotti’s men in recent years has been balancing between La Liga and the Champions League. The European competition has always remained Real Madrid’s top priority, but the focus on the big fish has not come without a price.

Oftentimes, the Merengues’ prioritisation of the European competition has directly impacted their chances on the domestic front with the occasional poor result and slip-up often creeping in. This season, on that front, is different.

The UCL is just entering the serious knockout phase starting tomorrow, and it thus becomes significant that Real Madrid almost have the league in their bag already. Boasting a five-point lead over second-placed Girona and a ten-point lead over Barcelona with just 14 games to go, it would require a monumental mess-up for Los Blancos to not win the title.

The 4-0 win over Girona thus liberates them from the shackles of La Liga and enables the team and the manager to focus on the UCL with their everything. After all, the men in white are one of the favourites in Europe as well.

Returning hero

Back from injury. (Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

Real Madrid maintained a clean sheet against La Liga’s highest-scoring side last weekend with no fit centre-backs available. The accomplishment is worth its weight in gold, especially considering the circumstances it came under, and only goes on to prove the supremacy of the squad Carlo Ancelotti has.

Aurelien Tchouameni and Dani Carvajal started as the two centre-backs on the night and dished out a resilient and disciplined performance, giving Girona no shot on target in 90 minutes. Continuing with the makeshift duo may thus not be a bad idea, but Nacho’s return to the squad is a welcome one.

Having recovered from his niggle, the club captain is expected to be available for selection later today and will win his place in central defence back. He will likely be paired with Tchouameni while Carvajal moves out to right-back once again.

Having a natural centre-back available for the big game, thus, is a major boost to Real Madrid’s chances. Playing away from home in the first instalment, the focus will be on taking home a reasonable lead, or at least, with no deficit to chase.

No Bellingham, no problem

After scoring a brilliant brace, Jude Bellingham left the field against Girona with discomfort to his ankle. The initial prognosis was fair, but tests revealed that the player was just one millimetre away from suffering a gruesome injury.

Bellingham will be unavailable for a few weeks at least, and will thus be out of the picture tonight against RB Leipzig. Arda Guler and Brahim Diaz pop up as the best options to replace him, with the latter having the stronger case.

Diaz was Real Madrid’s best player by far in the team’s recent clash against Atletico Madrid. His attacking runs compensated for the absence of Vinicius Jr. and helped the team create back-to-back big chances.

He was not rewarded with a start against Girona but made a positive impact after coming on as a late substitution. In just 30 minutes, he provided a key pass, recorded one shot and missed one big chance.

All eyes tonight, thus, will be on who Ancelotti chooses as Bellingham’s replacement and how the fated one fares. After all, the battle for the attacking midfield role has been nonexistent in recent months after Bellingham’s rise at the club.

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Real Madrid 1-0 Sevilla: Player Ratings



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Following Barcelona’s convincing 4-0 win against Getafe yesterday, the onus was on Real Madrid to reinstate the eight-point gap between the sides as they hosted Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu today.

Lucas Vazquez opened the scoring for los blancos after ten minutes, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul on Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.

Madrid found it difficult to unlock Sevilla’s defence after that, with the first-half ending 0-0 after just one shot on target from both teams combined.

Madrid started the second 45 with more intent, creating some better scoring opportunities, but were left without success until an unbelievable effort from Luka Modric scathed the post and went in.

Sergio Ramos put in a wonderful performance on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Sevilla, but it was not enough as Madrid escaped with all three points and an eight-point lead on top of the table.

Andriy Lunin: 8

Was not called into action in the first-half, and was pretty much faultless in possession. But made an incredible save off Romero’s effort in the second half and was extremely proactive collecting crosses, too. Game-changing.

Lucas Vazquez: 7

Did a good job overlapping and was unlucky that his goal was disallowed. Did well to deal with Romero and Ocampos defensively.

Antonio Rudiger: 6.5

Rudiger was lucky that Romero and En-Nesyri did not convert their efforts from close range, as he often left space in behind. Went up to attack with the score at 0-0, too, but came back fruitless.

Nacho: 6

Was substituted off after 75 minutes after an mostly average display. Again, lucky that he was not punished for the space he left behind.

Ferland Mendy: 7

A few decent moves for Mendy today, but for the most part, his inability to overlap properly gave Vinicius too much to do.

Federico Valverde: 8

By far the most active midfielder today, Valverde was everywhere. Ran the show for Madrid, both in possession and stopping counter attacks before they even started. Missed the easiest chance of the game, though.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5

Did his job as the 6 well, kept the game ticking and kept finding the spare man in midfield. Moved back to the defence eventually, and came away with a clean sheet.

Toni Kroos: 7

With Madrid struggling to break through Sevilla’s defence, Kroos was tasked with a lot of deep progression. Created some tame chances here and there, but failed to find properly find a man through.

Brahim Diaz: 7.5

Kept Kike Salas and Ocampos on their toes, making some tremendous solo runs from deep, but was often left without support. Created a brilliant chance for Valverde, that was scuffed.

Rodrygo: 7

Did not take many risks in possesion, but was crucial in Vinicius and Brahim finding space on the wing by offering support.

Vinicius Jr: 7.5

With the Sevilla defence looking very organised, the onus was on Vinicius to create something out of nothing. He attempted a few different things, including flicking the ball over players and attempting shots from distance, but all unsuccessful.

Has to be credited for the effort, though, especially with the rest of the team lacking.


Luka Modric: 8.5

Super-sub Luka Modric coming in clutch for Madrid today with his wonder goal from outside the box. Was also brilliant in possession, increasing the tempo of the game.

Dani Ceballos: N/A

Alvaro Rodriguez: N/A

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