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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Real Betis



Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Only two teams boast a perfect winning record so far in La Liga: Real Madrid and Real Betis. Both teams stand on nine points in the league standings and are first and second in the table respectively.

That could change as La Liga heads into its fourth matchday. Real Madrid and Betis face each other on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu and either one or both of the teams will certainly lose their perfect start to the season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side dished out a fine opening-day performance over Elche, scoring three times and maintaining a clean sheet. They then defeated Mallorca by a 2-1 margin before edging a 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Meanwhile, Los Blancos have been going from strength to strength since their Matchday 1 scare against Almeria. In the subsequent games, Carlo Ancelotti’s side scored seven goals and conceded just two.

The clash at the Bernabeu could well be the most awaited game of the weekend. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.

1. The concerning lack of a clean sheet

Last season, Thibaut Courtois stood second on the list of goalkeepers with the most clean-sheets. Only Alex Remiro of Real Sociedad boasted a better record than the Belgian international who achieved it in 16 league games.

However, that form has not continued to the new season. While Courtois has been magnificent in all three games so far, he has conceded one goal in every game.

Against Almeria, the shot-stopper failed to save Largie Ramazani’s effort in just the sixth minute. Needless to say, the early setback did not help Real Madrid’s case.

Just six minutes after Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos the lead over Celta Vigo, Courtois conceded the equaliser at the other end. A similar situation repeated itself against Espanyol when Joselu scored the equaliser past the Belgian late in the first half, killing Real Madrid’s lead on the night.

Given that the team have failed to maintain a single clean sheet in three games, all eyes undoubtedly turn to the goalkeeper. Yet, one knows that several other factors are involved.

For starters, the defence of the team is equally responsible for the goals conceded. From a broader angle, every player on the field can be held answerable for the same.

On Saturday, Real Madrid will look to put an end to the unwanted streak. Needless to say, it will take a special performance from the defenders and goalkeepers to deny a side like Los Verdiblancos of a goal in ninety minutes.

2. A real test for Aurelien Tchouameni

The world turned upside down for Real Madrid’s new signing Aurelien Tchouameni when Casemiro announced his departure from the club. All of a sudden, the Frenchman was under pressure to perform at the highest level, week in and week out, in a new environment.

With the pressure on his shoulders, he started for Los Blancos against Celta Vigo two weeks ago. At the end of ninety minutes, he was arguably the best player on the field.

On the night, he recorded three key passes, three successful dribbles, four clearances, three interceptions, two tackles, seven duels won and a blocked shot. A week later, he again impressed with his all-round performance against Espanyol. Moreover, he also provided his first assist for the club.

The youngster will look to ride on the wave of momentum ahead of the clash against Betis, for it will not be an easy task by any means.

The Seville-based side have an incredibly reliable double pivot of William Carvalho and Guido Rodriguez who will not be easy customers, although the former is a doubt. Tchouameni will also have to handle the guile and deception of Nabil Fekir who is amongst the most technically gifted playmakers in the league.

3. Tinkering with the full-backs

Carvajal or Vazquez at right-back? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Carlo Ancelotti made some surprising decisions ahead of Real Madrid’s game against Espanyol last week. For the game at RCDE Stadium, neither of the first-choice full-backs started.

Dani Carvajal was benched on the night as Lucas Vazquez started at right-back while David Alaba started at left-back ahead of Ferland Mendy.

The results, however, were mixed. Alaba did not have the best of nights defensively, losing possession six times and making an error that directly led to a shot. Vazquez did better in defence but lacked the cutting edge going forward.

Heading into a crucial match, the manager could look to entrust the right-back duty to Carvajal. His experience will come in handy against the likes of Juanmi and Alex Moreno down the flank.

The left-back situation is not as clear. Mendy may be the first-choice starter, but the Frenchman has often struggled to make an impact in the final third. The race to start is open between Alaba and Mendy, and it remains to be seen as to whom Ancelotti trusts.

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Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with a narrow 1-0 win over Union Berlin.

The victory was deserved from the point of view of domination of play. Real Madrid were the only team attacking for large parts of the night and created chances to no end.

Yet, one must tip the hat to the visitors’ resilient defence. Playing the first UEFA Champions League clash in the club’s history is difficult enough, let alone at the Santiago Bernabeu. Union Berlin did so and with some style.

Until the 93rd minute, a draw appeared to be the most probable result. The visitors refused to cave into Real Madrid’s relentless attacks and poured their hearts out on the field.

In the end, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men did what they do best. A last-minute winner from Jude Bellingham gave the hosts all three points.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin.

The power of Real Madrid

Real Madrid are one of the few teams in the world that can never be written off. Such is the ability of the team, more so under Carlo Ancelotti, that they can pull off a win even after a howler.

Their unfair advantage, in part, owes itself to the ridiculous individual quality they possess on the field. Any player is capable of turning the game around with a moment of magic.

Yet, the most important factor that works in their favour is the mental resilience in the squad. Real Madrid never believe it is over until it really is, and Wednesday night’s game provided further reassurance as to why they are the mentality monsters.

For 90 minutes, the visitors frustrated Real Madrid to the limit. They stuck to their defensive lines with discipline and did not give Los Blancos much to work with.

Yet, Real Madrid’s perseverance was visible through the ordeal. The intensity of their attacks amplified with every passing minute and showed no signs of tapering down.

Poetically, they found the winning goal in the final minute of added time when all doors seemed closed, with Jude Bellingham being the hero yet again.

Forwards need to step up

Rodrygo, Joselu need to step up. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

The men in white had 75% of the possession on Wednesday night at Santiago Bernabeu and kept making the required penetrative attacks. 

In 90 minutes, the hosts racked up an xG tally of 3.80. Yet, shockingly, they were goalless even in the penultimate minute of the game.

Real Madrid took 32 shots against Union Berlin as opposed to the opposition’s four. Seven shots were on target while 10 were blocked. 

In terms of big chances, the me in white churned up five in the 90 minutes of which they missed four. They also struck the woodwork twice last night.

The team’s struggles in the final third place the spotlight on Rodrygo Goes and Joselu, who were the team’s two forwards at Santiago Bernabeu. Both players suffered disappointing nights in front of goal and just could not catch a break from their poor luck.

The Spaniard had three shots on target, five off it, and three attempts blocked against Union Berlin. All of it, however, was in vain. 

The Brazilian was not much better with three shots and one blocked chance. Nevertheless, their poor results were not for a lack of trying if that is any silver lining.

Far from convincing 

Real Madrid’s mentality and fortitude to push for a win is indeed a reason to be optimistic. However, that does not hide the fact that the men in white struggled and toiled on to no end.

The Champions League has no minnows, but one would expect Real Madrid to show their dominance at some point in the game and close the deal. However, that spell of play never arrived.

Los Blancos may be on a six-game winning streak so far this season, but there is reason to believe that a factor of luck has been essential for most of their scalps.

All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti now. The manager has a world-class roster at his disposal, and it will now be up to him to enhance Real Madrid’s performance in the final third. After all, putting away chances is as important as creating them.

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