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 1-0 Sevilla: Player Ratings
Following Barcelona’s convincing 4-0 win against Getafe yesterday, the onus was on Real Madrid to reinstate the eight-point gap between the sides as they hosted Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
Lucas Vazquez opened the scoring for los blancos after ten minutes, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul on Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.
Madrid found it difficult to unlock Sevilla’s defence after that, with the first-half ending 0-0 after just one shot on target from both teams combined.
Madrid started the second 45 with more intent, creating some better scoring opportunities, but were left without success until an unbelievable effort from Luka Modric scathed the post and went in.
Sergio Ramos put in a wonderful performance on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Sevilla, but it was not enough as Madrid escaped with all three points and an eight-point lead on top of the table.
Andriy Lunin: 8
Was not called into action in the first-half, and was pretty much faultless in possession. But made an incredible save off Romero’s effort in the second half and was extremely proactive collecting crosses, too. Game-changing.
Lucas Vazquez: 7
Did a good job overlapping and was unlucky that his goal was disallowed. Did well to deal with Romero and Ocampos defensively.
Antonio Rudiger: 6.5
Rudiger was lucky that Romero and En-Nesyri did not convert their efforts from close range, as he often left space in behind. Went up to attack with the score at 0-0, too, but came back fruitless.
Was substituted off after 75 minutes after an mostly average display. Again, lucky that he was not punished for the space he left behind.
Ferland Mendy: 7
A few decent moves for Mendy today, but for the most part, his inability to overlap properly gave Vinicius too much to do.
Federico Valverde: 8
By far the most active midfielder today, Valverde was everywhere. Ran the show for Madrid, both in possession and stopping counter attacks before they even started. Missed the easiest chance of the game, though.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5
Did his job as the 6 well, kept the game ticking and kept finding the spare man in midfield. Moved back to the defence eventually, and came away with a clean sheet.
Toni Kroos: 7
With Madrid struggling to break through Sevilla’s defence, Kroos was tasked with a lot of deep progression. Created some tame chances here and there, but failed to find properly find a man through.
Brahim Diaz: 7.5
Kept Kike Salas and Ocampos on their toes, making some tremendous solo runs from deep, but was often left without support. Created a brilliant chance for Valverde, that was scuffed.
Did not take many risks in possesion, but was crucial in Vinicius and Brahim finding space on the wing by offering support.
Vinicius Jr: 7.5
With the Sevilla defence looking very organised, the onus was on Vinicius to create something out of nothing. He attempted a few different things, including flicking the ball over players and attempting shots from distance, but all unsuccessful.
Has to be credited for the effort, though, especially with the rest of the team lacking.
Luka Modric: 8.5
Super-sub Luka Modric coming in clutch for Madrid today with his wonder goal from outside the box. Was also brilliant in possession, increasing the tempo of the game.