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Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid hosted Atletico Madrid on Saturday night in La Liga, hoping to take points off their local rivals and put pressure on leaders Barcelona. Fresh off their 5-2 win at Anfield, the men in white were the favourites to take three points.

The game, however, panned out differently. The storyline of the 90 minutes saw a number of highs and lows for the Merengues who were forced to overcome adversity and fight hard for a point in the end.

The struggle on the evening was not for a lack of chances. Karim Benzema himself had at least three clear-cut opportunities to give his side the lead but was uncharacteristically poor in front of the goal.

Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, took the only chance that came their way. But youngster Alvaro Rodriguez came up clutch for Los Blancos at the Bernabeu, ensuring that they came away with a point at least.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Saturday’s Madrid derby.

1. A missed opportunity

It really does not get easier than playing the Madrid derby with an extra man for almost half an hour. Having the opportunity at their doorstep, Real Madrid failed to even remotely capitalise on it.

Just over 60 minutes into the game, Atletico Madrid’s half-time substitute Angel Correa was sent off in a contentious decision. The midfielder elbowed Antonio Rudiger who went down and the referee handed him the most severe punishment.

Down to ten men, Atletico Madrid were struggling at the Santiago Bernabeu. With over 30 minutes to go, the tie was Real Madrid’s to lose.

Yet, the Merengues failed to create any concrete chances even fifteen minutes after the sending-off. In fact, it was Atletico Madrid who pushed forward in attack and kept the ball more.

To not score against a ten-man team is a crime in itself for a club of Real Madrid’s stature. To concede a goal in such a situation is horrendous, and that was what happened in the 78th minute when Jose Maria Gimenez headed the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

The season is long and influenced by a plethora of factors. Yet, the missed chance to take three points against Diego Simeone’s men with a numerical advantage could come back to bite Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

2. The rise of a star

Real Madrid’s saviour vs Atletico (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

The clock read 77 minutes when Ancelotti called off Nacho Fernandez for the youngster climbing up the ranks, Alvaro Rodriguez. Less than 60 seconds later, Los Rojiblancos had buried the ball into the net and Real Madrid found themselves behind at home.

The youngster was only on the field for 13 minutes but was the one to put a towering header past Jan Oblak late in the game to equalise the score. Rodriguez managed just two touches and one pass on the night, and yet made the winning move.

The storyline is familiar, for the 18-year-old did the same thing against Osasuna last week. After coming on in the 87th minute, Rodriguez found a great through ball to assist Vinicius for the eventually disallowed goal in the 91st minute. Unperturbed, he repeated his feat and assisted Marco Asensio seconds later to help Real Madrid seal a 2-0 win.

Going by his recent performances, it is clear that the Castilla striker is an impact player. His ability to make things happen in a matter of minutes makes him a lethal weapon for Ancelotti, even for the seasons to come.

The Bernabeu has a new star, and Ancelotti has confirmed that the Uruguayan could be a first-team player as early as next season.

3. Slowly, but surely slipping away

As if Barcelona’s eight-point lead in La Liga was not wide enough, Ancelotti’s men gifted their rivals with a welcoming chance of extending it to double digits with the result against Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona take on Almeria on Matchday 23 and are the favourites to take three points against the 19th-placed side. A win at the Power Horse Stadium will take Xavi’s men to 62 points, a whopping ten points above Real Madrid.

Every time the Merengues slip up, Barcelona inch closer to lifting the league title. Yet, all hope is not lost.

Real Madrid take on Barcelona at Spotify Camp Nou in March in La Liga. A win in Catalonia, quite simply, could be Los Blancos’ best hope of reducing the deficit and catching up with the Blaugrana.

It is high time that Real Madrid pull up their socks domestically and end their inconsistencies. Winning the UEFA Champions League is indeed the top priority, however, it is not worth risking every other competition for the elimination-based European event.

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Goals, energy, leadership: Three things Bellingham can offer to Real Madrid



Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Real Madrid have been notoriously heavy spenders in the summer transfer market in the past but have not spent an awful lot over the last few seasons due to financial restrictions and their team finding its peak at the right time.

Real Madrid did shell out close to €100 million for Aurelien Tchouameni last year, and got Eduardo Camavinga in the summer of 2021 for around €400 million, too.

It does seem like they have a huge summer planned ahead of them, though. The club plans to splash some cash on multiple positions, including centre-forward, right-wing, central midfield, and across the defence.

Some targets are laid out for these positions, with Kylian Mbappe naturally being on the list.

However, one definite target for Madrid that’s been well-established already is Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. His price tag is set at around €100-140 million, and Los Blancos are among the teams leading the race for his signature, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool.

The Englishman has an obviously high ceiling and is already among the best players in his position in Europe. Moreover, he adds depth across various skillsets and attributes that Real Madrid currently lack or will lack as the clock marches on.

Madrid Universal explores three different things Bellingham can bring to the table for an already talented Galacticos side.

Goals from midfield

Despite not playing an advanced role, Bellingham is a rather experienced poacher in the box. This comes with his thorough understanding of offensive routines, and timing his runs to perfection in the box.

Being 6’1″ and physically gifted, the teenager can attack crosses and passes into the box with ease. He boasts of a rather impressive leap as well, which was more than visible during the World Cup, when he opened the scoring against Iran.

The English midfielder has scored four goals in the league for Dortmund, and has accumulated an xG of 5.25 across the season. That is nearly two more than Madrid’s highest scoring midfielder – Luka Modric.

Currently, Madrid’s goals are rather lopsidedly dependent on the forward line, with Toni Kroos and Modric just chipping in with a combined six goals in the league out of a possible 51.

While both players, and Camavinga, are adept at shooting from range, neither quite provide the box threat or the third-man runs Madrid are currently craving for.

Goal machine. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Once Karim Benzema or Vinicius Jr are boxed out of the game, Carlo Ancelotti’s side struggle with ideas, and are often stuck in a pattern of crossing and hoping for the best.

And even with that, Bellingham could prove to be an excellent solution to their problems, coming up with late runs into the box and attacking crosses and loose balls.

Youthful energy

Far too many times this season, Ancelotti has been criticised for using Modric and Kroos in the same midfield. Especially when their bench holds the likes of Camavinga, Dani Ceballos, and sometimes even Federico Valverde.

However, it is clear that these players have been delegated to certain roles in midfield. Camavinga and Tchouameni shuffle as pivot options, while Ceballos is called upon add more creativity in the centre of the park.

Bellingham, while far from the best ball retainer, certainly has energy and lungs for days. He can run from box to box, receive and turn in a crowded midfield, and chase the ball till the 90.

While they have Valverde in a similar mould, the Uruguayan has been tasked with running the right-wing more often than not, at least under Ancelotti. It will be interesting to see how another coach would utilise both players to their respective strengths should the transfer go through.

Long-term captaincy candidate

At 19, Bellingham has already shown signs of becoming a captain for any side he plays for, for years to come. He has donned the armband for Dortmund several times this season already, and was first awarded with it in October, becoming the youngest captain in Bundesliga history.

Captain material. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, he holds the position of third captain for Dortmund, behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, but has already held the armband multiple times, including twice in the UEFA Champions League.

While Madrid have a fair few leaders in their ranks, including and not limited to the likes of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and David Alaba, Bellingham has clearly proved that he is not only capable of taking on a leadership role, but also spearheading any side for years to come.

If all works out, the price tag of €120+ million will soon start to pale in comparison to the attributes he brings to the table alongside his unbelievably high ceiling and longevity.

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