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Three talking points from Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid do not disappoint in the UEFA Champions League, a competition whose pressure even the best in the world crumble under. Their dream run in the competition continued on Wednesday night in Madrid as they pounced to a 2-0 lead over Chelsea in the first leg of the quarterfinal.

The scoreline is kind on the London-based side, for Carlo Ancelotti’s men did not take all the chances that came their way. Yet, it now raises the demand for Chelsea to score at least three goals against the defending champions next week at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea.

1. An elite set of forwards

When the spotlight shone the brightest, every single one of Real Madrid’s forwards stepped up to the occasion. Be it the starting trio or those called off the bench, they all left their mark.

Carlo Ancelotti opted to deploy Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo Goes on the night and the three ran riot in the Chelsea area.

The first goal came through a combination play between Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Jr. The Spaniard’s lobbed pass over the defence found the Brazilian who volleyed it first time. Kepa got an arm to it, but Benzema was there to score his sixth goal in five appearances against Chelsea.

Rodrygo, though not directly involved in a goal, was instrumental with his combination play in tight spaces. The youngster opened up the opposition defence on numerous occasions and completed two of his three dribbles.

The manager opted to substitute Rodrygo in the 71st minute and brought on Marco Asensio as his replacement. The winger did not take long to leave his mark on the game as he neatly tucked the ball beyond Kepa from outside the box just 3 minutes into his cameo.

For Los Blancos to have all four forwards fire in tandem in a high-pressure situation speaks volumes about the manager and the dressing room. It is not surprising that Real Madrid are the knockout kings.

2. One-way traffic

Chelsea were poor against Real Madrid (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Chelsea dominated the first few minutes of both halves and in a short spell in stoppage time. Apart from those few occasions, it was all Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

The Blues struggled to even get the ball out of their own half, falling prey to the high press of Real Madrid’s midfield core time and time again. The visitors were disorganised and lacked coordination, unsurprisingly falling short of the defending champions.

Real Madrid had close to 60% of the possession on the night and dominated statistics both in attack and defence.

Of their 18 shots on the night, Real Madrid had ten on target and forced a staggering eight saves from the opposition shot-stopper. They also created four big chances, three of which they went on to miss.

The team completed a whopping 12 dribbles on the night as opposed to Chelsea’s six. Further, they won 46 duels, 17 tackles and 11 interceptions at the Bernabeu.

Carlo Ancelotti thus has only positives to take away from the midweek fixture but one wonders how Frank Lampard can salvage anything to hold onto.

3. Halfway there

As dominant as the two-goal lead appears against clearly inferior opposition, it is the norm of the UEFA Champions League to never write off a game until it is over.

Next week, the two European giants face off again, this time in London and Frank Lampard’s men will be hungry to strike back.

Chelsea’s problem on the field is not a lack of quality but the sheer absence of coordination and understanding. The Blues have some of the world’s best players in their ranks with an audacious number of backups. Needless to say, the chance of individual brilliance helping them next week cannot be ruled out.

Real Madrid have taken one big step towards securing a semifinal berth in the Champions League. 90 minutes of quality football is all that stands between Carlo Ancelotti and a place in the final four.

Needless to say, the Merengues must stay grounded and hold their own at Stamford Bridge and play as if it is a new game.

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Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

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

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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