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Three talking points from Real Madrid 2-3 Villarreal

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

The story of Federico Valverde and Alex Baena is the centre of attention of the media on Sunday morning. Yet, that does not take light away from the fact that Real Madrid virtually dissolved any remaining La Liga title hopes with their 2-3 defeat to Villarreal.

Carlo Ancelotti shuffled his cards and took the gamble with a rotated lineup. With the tough fixture nestled between two more weighted games, one cannot blame the manager for doing so. As it turned out, the rotated side was just not good enough for Quique Setien’s men.

The domestic league already appeared to be a lost cause for the Merengues, and there are no doubts remaining after Saturday’s result. Barcelona have the chance to go 15 points clear on Monday night, and with just ten games to go, a comeback is unlikely.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 2-3 Villarreal.

1. Taste of their own medicine

Real Madrid under Ancelotti have overseen some of football’s finest comeback victories. These wins span across the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga and involve some of football’s elite clubs.

Last season, Los Blancos tore apart Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Chelsea in inspiring comebacks on their way to the title. The story this season has been no different.

Real Madrid did the same with Liverpool at Anfield. From 2-0 down to 5-2 up, they made the defenders in red look like novices. Last week, they took down Xavi’s Barcelona in a 4-0 demolition to complete a special comeback in the Spanish Cup.

Yet, Villarreal are a club Real Madrid have struggled against in recent years and the trend continued last night. Not only did the men in white lose but they were given a taste of their own medicine – the bitter pill of being at the receiving end of a Remontada.

Ancelotti’s men took the lead twice on the night, yet fell to a painful defeat. Asensio’s shot deflected off Pau Torres in the 16th minute to put the hosts ahead, but Samuel Chukwueze levelled in scintillating fashion just 23 minutes later.

Three minutes after the restart, Vinicius Jr dribbled past the defenders in yellow and put the ball past Reina only for Jose Luis Morales to level once more with a neat finish.

The final blow on the night was delivered by Chukwueze, the rightful man of the match, with a stunning curling effort past Thibaut Courtois. Villarreal thus completed the comeback over the hosts at the Santiago Bernabeu and inflicted a serious blow on any title hopes remaining.

2. The fated left flank

Chukwueze was too hot to handle for Real Madrid (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

The left-back department has to be a matter of serious concern heading into the summer transfer window. It has become the norm for opposition to target Real Madrid down their Achilles Heel in recent weeks and it is no longer possible to turn a blind eye.

Ferland Mendy has been under severe criticism this season for his subpar contributions in the final third. Many doubt the Frenchman’s ability to reach the level required at the Spanish capital with the club even considering his exit. Yet, the situation without him is far worse at the moment.

Ancelotti has no direct replacements for the injured left-back and deployed Nacho Fernandez to take over duties on the left against Villarreal. For 90 minutes at the Bernabeu, the Spanish defender was smoked.

Chukwueze made a laughing stock of Nacho who spent the entire game chasing after the dynamic and skilful winger. He made just one tackle, one interception and two clearances on the night and went on to lose four of his five fuels. Further, he was dribbled past four times on the night and lost possession six times.

Villarreal’s first goal was all about the lifeless left flank’s defensive concerns. Chukwueze received the ball from Giovani Lo Celso and conveniently danced past Nacho to find the bottom left corner. The second equaliser was more of the same, with the winger eliminating Real Madrid’s fullback with ease before firing a cross into Morales.

The left flank was again exposed for the winner when Villarreal’s man-of-the-match cut in from the wing to take his outrageous shot.

3. No room for spillovers

Two games into the restart of club football after the international break, Ancelotti’s men looked to be in the driver’s seat. They had put the ball into the net ten times including four against Barcelona and conceded none.

Yet, the second defeat of the season to Villarreal changes the dynamics. Los Blancos now head into the decisive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal with the defeat fresh in their memory and the momentum no longer on their side.

The first reaction of the players in white after the defeat was to quickly accept their lack of quality on the night and reassure each other that the result would play no part in the game against Chelsea.

One knows that the veterans in the dressing room with Ancelotti will take care of the situation, but it will be vital for the team to enter the pitch on Wednesday unscathed.

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Features

Euro 2024: Rating every Real Madrid player’s performance at the tournament

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Euro 2024 came to an end last night with Spain being crowned the champions of Europe thanks to a 2-1 victory over England in Berlin.

Considering how well La Roja played throughout the tournament and their performance in the finals on Sunday night, they were the deserved winners of the trophy.

With Spain lifting the trophy, Real Madrid veteran defender Dani Carvajal added another title to his already successful campaign finishing 2023/24 as a La Liga, Champions League, and EURO winner.

Nacho and Joselu, who were still contracted with Real Madrid when the Euro started, joined Carvajal on that list while Jude Bellingham finished on the losing side.

Real Madrid had a total of 13 players representing them at the Euros in Germany and not all managed to make a solid impression. Here are how the Merengues’ stars fared at the European Championships.

Spain

Dani Carvajal: 8/10

The Spanish right-back was one of the stars of the show at the Euros, playing an integral role in La Roja’s success. Carvajal kicked off his first Euro with a goal in the opening game against Croatia and continued to be a reliable player for Spain both in defence and attack.

Carvajal forged a strong partnership with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal on the right flank and even played a key role in the team’s opening goal against England in the final.

Nacho: 6/10

Technically no longer a Real Madrid player, Nacho was still contracted with the club when the Euros kicked off. Starting in the opener against Croatia, he helped Spain to a clean sheet against Croatia.

The veteran defender also put in solid shifts in the quarter-final and semi-final ties against Germany and France, respectively and helped see out the game against England last night.

Joselu: N/A

Behind the likes of Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal in the pecking order, Joselu, who left Real Madrid at the end of June, played just 90 minutes across two games.

England

Jude Bellingham: 6.5/10

Failed to deliver. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having enjoyed a dream season with Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham was unable to replicate those performances for England.

While he did score two crucial goals, including a stunning bicycle kick to keep his team alive against Slovakia, and assisted Cole Palmer’s strike in the finals, his overall display left a lot to be desired.

France

Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

Real Madrid’s newest acquisition, all eyes were on Mbappe heading into the Euros. And even though France made it as far as the semi-finals, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the expectations with a nose injury impacting his displays.

Mbappe finished the tournament with a solitary goal and two assists, but as he admitted after the defeat to Spain, his Euro will go down as a failure.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6/10

Making a return from injury during the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder was a solid presence in the centre of the park for France alongside N’Golo Kante without really standing out a great deal.

The 24-year-old provided strength and stability in midfield for Les Bleus and even tried to get upfield in matches. But his shooting from distance was way off the mark.

Not up to the mark. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga: 5/10

Starting just one of France’s six games and featuring as a substitute in three more, Eduardo Camavinga was not a major presence for Didier Deschamps’ side at the Euros which came as a surprise.

The Real Madrid starlet did show glimpses of quality when he did get a chance but not enough for him to make an impact.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Having made a return to the France setup for the first time since 2022, Mendy did not play a single minute at the Euros, with former Real Madrid left-back, Theo Hernandez being preferred by the manager.

Germany

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Carrying on from where he left off for Real Madrid, Rudiger was a solid presence at the heart of the German defence at the Euros in his homeland.

Came up against some tricky forwards throughout the hosts’ quarterfinal run but did well to hold his own, but was guilty of losing Mikel Merino for Spain’s goal that eliminated Germany.

Toni Kroos: 6.5/10

It was not a fairytale ending for Kroos, who waved goodbye to his international career with a forgettable display against Spain during which he could have been easily sent off for the array of fouls he committed.

Prior to that, however, Kroos was instrumental for Germany in their run until the quarterfinals, stringing play together from the centre of the park.

Turkey

Arda Guler: 7/10

Arda Guler made a good impression at the Euros. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

One of the breakout stars of the Euros, Arda Guler showcased his talent and potential, helping Turkey to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The 19-year-old started off with a wonder-goal against Georgia and also added two assists to his tally in his first major tournament, following in the footsteps of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. A bright future awaits.

Croatia

Luka Modric: 6/10

Unlike recent years, Luka Modric’s Croatia were unable to get past the group stages, with the veteran midfielder finishing the tournament with a goal from under 240 minutes.

Ukraine

Andriy Lunin: 2/10

Started the tournament as Ukraine’s No. 1 against Romania but made costly errors that saw him lose his place in the starting XI. Did not feature again after the opener as his team crashed out of the group stages.

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