Real Madrid once again engineered a special comeback to secure all three points from Mallorca’s hand on Sunday. The game at Santiago Bernabeu was closely fought in the first half, but was followed was a ruthless demolition of the visitors.
Vedat Muriqi opened the scoring in the 35th minute but the joy was short-lived as the hosts equalised on the cusp of half-time. Then, Carlo Ancelotti’s men struck thrice in the second half to down their opponents and move back atop the La Liga standings.
There are several positives to take away from the game at Bernabeu but also a couple of glaring problems that warrant urgent resolution. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid’s win over Mallorca on Sunday.
1. No Benzema, no worries
The big talking point ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Mallorca was the absence of Karim Benzema. The French international suffered a knee injury midweek against Celtic and was unavailable for the clash today.
There was speculation as to how Ancelotti could fill the void left by Benzema. After all, he was not only the team captain but also their primary goalscorer.
Yet, Real Madrid had few problems without their talisman. Los Blancos put four past Mallorca at the Bernabeu and showed the world that they do not depend on any individual player to score goals.
Federico Valverde opened the scoring with an unbelievable solo effort late in the first half to equalise the scores. Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo took their shares of spoils in the second half before Antonio Rudiger completed the scoring in stoppage time.
Interestingly, all three departments contributed to the goals on the afternoon when the team lacked its central striker. This just goes to show that, if need be, Los Blancos can produce the goals from anywhere.
2. The Brazilian samba
Real Madrid and Florentino Perez have been very active in the Brazilian market in recent years. Unsurprisingly, the team now has several young stars from the South American country with many more in the line to impress.
Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo are arguably the most famous Brazilian players at Real Madrid right now and have become extremely vital to Ancelotti’s plans. It is often easy to forget that the two players are just 22 and 21 years old, respectively.
The duo started against Mallorca and took the pitch by storm. They wreaked havoc in the visitors’ box, often toying with defenders and creating chances. In the end, they had two goals and an assist between them to show their involvement.
Real Madrid’s second goal of the game saw both Brazilians combine in a scintillating fashion. Rodrygo received the ball in midfield and went on a mazy run to take out several defenders from the equation.
He then spotted his compatriot’s run and slid in a pass and Vinicius finished past the opposition goalkeeper to give his team the lead.
In the 89th minute, Rodrygo gave the world another glimpse at his talent. The youngster shook the Mallorca defence with the ball at his feet, leaving two defenders on the ground and another one stranded before calmly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper.
It may have taken a couple of seasons for Real Madrid’s Brazilian stars to develop and adapt to the team but one can now say that the wait was well worth it.
3. Where are the clean sheets?
Real Madrid have already played five league games this season but have conceded a goal in every single outing. The lack of a clean sheet one month after the commencement of the league is worrying, to say the least.
The responsibility has to be put on both the goalkeeper and the defence, more so on the latter.
Thibaut Courtois averages over 2.5 saves per game with a save percentage of 72% in La Liga this season. There was little that he could do in most of the goals conceded, but the same cannot be said about the defence.
Against Mallorca too, Los Blancos conceded a goal purely because of their awful defending. While Kang-in Lee’s delivery of the set-piece was perfect, both Antonio Rudiger and Ferland Mendy were sloppy in marking their men.
Needless to say, it is unacceptable for a team of Real Madrid’s stature to concede from a set-piece.
The clean sheet has evaded the Spanish side for too long and it will be amongst Ancelotti’s priorities to fix this situation. Last season, the team kept 16 clean sheets in La Liga and things will have to change immediately if they are to better that number this season.
Real Madrid 3-1 Atletico Madrid: Player Ratings
A scintillating Madrid derby saw Real Madrid leap past Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid by a scoreline of 3-1 to book a place in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. As one-sided as the scoreline looks, the game was far from that.
Atletico Madrid took the early lead through Alvaro Morata in the first half and held onto their lead for close to an hour. However, Rodrygo had other plans and equalised for the hosts with a stunning solo strike to force extra time.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr then scored in the first and second periods of extra time to give Real Madrid the win. Notably, Los Rojiblancos were down to ten men by that point, with Stefan Savic having been sent off.
Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings for both teams at the Madrid derby.
Thibaut Courtois: 8.5
Absolutely gargantuan. Made a whopping five saves to keep his side in the game throughout, including four from inside the box.
Nacho Fernandez: 7.5
Playing as a right-back, Nacho did a great job at controlling Reinildo and Antoine Griezmann.
Eder Militao: 8
Calm, cool, and composed. 13 recoveries, seven clearances, four headed clearances, one interception and six duels won in addition to a game-high 117 passes.
Antonio Rudiger: 7
Tight performance from the German, was part of Real Madrid’s resilient defence that prevented an Atleti equaliser late on.
Ferland Mendy: 4
One of the Merengues’ worst players in the first half, limited their width in the final third and did not involve in the buildup. Replaced before half-time after suffering an injury.
Luka Modric: 7.5
Played the full 120 minutes and returned to his imperial best after a mild slump in recent games. Had 136 touches, completed 94% of his passes. Led the team with 22 passes into the final third and assisted Rodrygo’s opener.
Eduardo Camavinga: 7
Did well as the pivot against Simeone’s men, and showed the world that he can compete with Aurelien Tchouameni for a spot as the holding midfielder.
Toni Kroos: 7
Reliable as ever in his 74 minutes on the field. Completed 97% of his passes, created two chances and had 11 passes into the final third. Defensively, he recorded six recoveries, a headed clearance, two clearances and won three duels.
Federico Valverde: 6
A relatively sub-par performance from the Uruguayan. Took five shots against Real Madrid, but only one hit the target. Looked slightly off from the get-go but did not make any glaring mistakes either.
Karim Benzema: 8
A lively presence in attack created three chances and took four shots on the night. Had his big moment in the first half of extra time when he found himself at the receiving end of Rodrygo’s ball across the goal. Faced with an open goal, the Frenchman gave his side the lead.
Vinicius Jr: 8.5
Phenomenal, as is the norm. Was a constant threat down the left flank, and created five chances including a big chance. Got the assist to his name on the night, though Rodrygo deservedly can claim to have been the one to spot Benzema’s good position.
Scored a solo golazo in the final minute of the game to make it 3-1 after he ran past the entire Atleti defence and beat Oblak with a low shot.
Dani Ceballos: 8.5
Kept up his good form in the derby, and found Vinicius for the final goal of the game. Sensational cameo with 120 touches despite not playing the first half.
The youngster came on in the 70th minute for Valverde and got on the scoreboard just ten minutes later. Scored a world-class goal to level things up by running beyond four Atletico defenders and poking the ball past Oblak.
Was a lively presence throughout, and injected energy into Real Madrid’s forward line when they needed it the most. Assisted the second goal with great presence of mind.
Marco Asensio: 3
Discouraging cameo disappeared on the field after coming on.
Jan Oblak: 6
Continued his poor run of form. Could have reacted better to both Rodrygo and Vinicius’ goals as he was easily beaten near the post.
Nahuel Molina: 7.5
The Argentine’s one-touch ball across the face of the goal after receiving Koke’s pass was the reason Los Rojiblancos could take the lead. Was massive in defence with six recoveries and three clearances. Not much he could do about the goals scored by Real.
Stefan Savic: 5
The veteran centre-back was taken to the cleaners by Rodrygo for Real Madrid’s equaliser but was solid for most of the remainder of the game.
Made a headless decision to commit to a late poor tackle on Camavinga. As a result, he saw a second yellow and left his team a man down for extra time.
Mario Hermoso: 6.5
Average performance from the Spanish defender was left to fight a lone bate after Savic’s sending-off.
One of the Rojiblancos’ most disappointing players against Real Madrid. Offered absolutely nothing in the final third and suffered defensively against Rodrygo in the second half.
Was absolutely vital for Atletico’s opening goal as he found Molina with a very difficult lofted ball. However, a relatively average performance from the Spanish veteran apart from his moment of magic. Nothing flashy.
Rodrigo de Paul: 7
The World Cup winner played over 80 minutes and drove Atletico’s midfield. Created two chances and a big chance, and completed 90% of his attempted 71 passes.
Thomas Lemar: 4.5
Barely visible in his 75 minutes on the field, no major contributions or extensive involvement in Atletico’s play.
Antoine Griezmann: 6.5
Led the charge for Atletico in attack and put in a hard-working defensive performance to back it up. Yet, one would expect more impact from a player of his stature.
Angel Correa: 5
Was a shadow of his true self, and lost a game-high nine duels at Santiago Bernabeu.
Alvaro Morata: 8
Helped Atletico Madrid take the lead against his former club with a simple finish into an open goal. Had just 12 passes in 63 minutes, and completed just six. Could not record a single shot on goal apart from the one he scored from.
Axel Witsel: 4.5
Came on at the hour mark for Morata as Diego Simeone looked to flip on the defensive switch. Created and missed a big chance each during his stay on the field but was horribly undone by Rodrygo for the Merengues’ equaliser. Involved in another mess-up in Real Madrid’s second as he failed to clear the ball.
Yannick Carrasco: 4
Just 22 touches and 14 passes in close to 45 minutes of action.
Memphis Depay: 6
Had a good chance to equalise in the 109th minute but put forward a tame effort. A good cameo from the Dutchman from a creative perspective, nevertheless.
Saul Niguez: 6
Good defensive numbers in his cameo but could not give Simeone’s side any edge in the final third.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: 6
Nothing flashy from the central midfielder completed 100% of his attempted dribbles.