Real Madrid played host to Espanyol and delivered a tactical masterclass in a routine 4-0 victory. The new Spanish champions asserted their dominance over their visitors from the very beginning of the match, winning every second ball in the opening half.
Thanks to a brace by Rodrygo, a goal by Marco Asensio and a finish by Karim Benzema to make it four, Los Blancos went back to winning ways against Los Pericos, and, more importantly, to the Cibeles Fountain to celebrate their record 35th league title.
In this article, join Madrid Universal as we explore three lessons we learned from that enthralling performance.
1. A well deserved 35th league title.
League titles are often described as the manager’s trophy, and with reason. In comparison to the Champions League, Copa del Rey or the various super cups that exist, leagues demand an immense amount of consistency all throughout a season.
It is imperative that one be superior over 38 matchdays to all their rivals, to clinch the trophy. The consistency, rather than luck on a Tuesday evening, is what determines the winner of the contest.
It goes without saying that Real Madrid were consistently the best in the entire country. Be it at home, where they lead the points tally with 40, or away where they again lead with 41, Real Madrid have preserved the same level of performance irrespective of their opponent.
The goalscoring magnificence of Karim Benzema, the jaw-dropping saves from Thibaut Courtois, the blistering pace of Vinicius Junior, and, of course, tactical mastery of Carlo Ancelotti got Real Madrid yet another crown to add to their expansive collection.
It is not over yet for Real Madrid. Barcelona have been on the ascendancy ever since Xavi Hernandez, and will, with more signings, mount a challenge in the coming campaign.
For now, it’s party time for Los Blancos.
2. Brilliant showing by the reserves and youth
Carlo Ancelotti made a number of changes to the starting eleven. Among these were Jesus Vallejo, Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo, who moved to the left-wing this time round.
From the heart of the defence, Vallejo was mesmeric. The central defender held his ground all throughout the match, making crucial interceptions and acting as the perfect passing conduit to link defence and attack. He did a sumptuous job deputising for David Alaba despite his few minutes this season.
Ceballos, meanwhile had an afternoon to remember. Despite being relatively low in the pecking order, he executed each and every task with utmost class.
The Spaniard nutmegged his rivals, lacerated the Espanyol defence through his dribbling ability, and had the fans rejoicing every time he touched the ball.
Camavinga is a man for the future, and his performance gave off the impression that he was a first-team veteran. The Frenchman did everything perfectly. Whether it was a run into space, a through ball, or a tackle; every single task was perfectly timed and expertly executed.
Finally, La Liga’s man of the match, Rodrygo, had a memorable afternoon from the left-wing. The Brazilian scored two wonderful goals, one on the near and the other on the far post.
Games like these are proof that he should have a more prominent role, but with the summer reinforcements, will it happen?
3. The perfect game before UCL semis
Los Blancos are in dire need of goals, given they are facing arguably the best team in all of Europe this week. An in-form Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, and Thibaut Courtois will be crucial to a place in the final.
Yesterday, both Real Madrid and Manchester City won by four goals to nil. Los Merengues have the added advantage of having lifted a league title, and might come into the match with the emotional edge over their opponents.
Madrid can come out guns blazing against City, given the Champions League is all they have left to fight for.
The Sky Blues, meanwhile are in a tight race with Liverpool for the Premier League, and their quest for domestic dominance might come in the way of a continental fight.
Real Madrid have experience as their advantage because if any side knows how to mount an European comeback, it’s Real Madrid.
Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Vinicius, Rodrygo, Militao advance to the Round of 16
The second round of group-stage fixtures in Qatar came to a close on Monday in what was a day of very high-quality football. The first two games alone accounted for 11 goals in what was the highest tally in a day in this edition.
The first game saw Serbia and Cameroon face off in an epic clash that saw no end of twists and turns. The game ended 3-3 with the teams sharing the points.
The next game saw South Korea go 2-0 down quickly against Ghana before coming back in the second half. However, the African side scored once again on demand to steer themselves to a win.
Brazil needed a late winner from Casemiro to break the deadlock against Switzerland in the third game and secured their spot in the Round of 16.
The last game between Portugal and Uruguay was expected to be a match of equals. That perception quickly changed when the Europeans produced a dominant performance and killed off the game with two goals.
Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Monday.
Vinicius Jr (Brazil vs Switzerland)
Over the past few years, Vinicius Jr has carved out a reputation for being a thorn in defenders’ feet, be it with his world-class dribbling or his antics. As one of the best young wingers in business, he stands out in chance creation even when faced against the best in the business.
However, it appeared like Silvan Widmer had Vinicius in his pockets for large parts of the game. The two created a fabulous battle down Brazil’s left-wing but it was often the Real Madrid player who came second best.
The youngster scored a goal in the 66th minute with a perfectly placed shot after beating his man. However, it was ruled out for an offside intervention after the VAR review.
Apart from sporadic moments of magic, Vinicius did not offer much. He had just one shot on target, completed just one of his five attempted dribbles and missed one big chance. Moreover, he did not complete a single cross accurately and lost more than 50% of his duels. But he was involved in the buildup to the goal.
Eder Militao (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After spending 90 minutes on the bench against Serbia, Militao received his first World Cup start on Monday night. However, the manager deployed him as the right-back as opposed to his usual position in central defence.
Despite playing in a foreign position, the Brazilian was convincing in defence and stopped the likes of Ruben Vargas and Ricardo Rodriguez.
Understandably, Militao did not look to burst into the final third and create chances like a traditional full-back but was still heavily linked in the build-up play. He completed 87% of his attempted passes, five out of eight long balls and even provided a key pass.
Rodrygo Goes (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After Brazil’s underwhelming first half, the manager turned to Rodrygo at the start of the second period. The youngster came on for Lucas Paqueta at halftime in an attempt to ramp up Selecao’s threat in the final third and the decision paid off.
It was the young sensation who assisted Casemiro’s goal in the 83rd minute. Receiving the ball from Vinicius, Rodrygo just flicked the ball away from defenders and into the feet of Casemiro to set up an ideal half-volley.
Apart from his assist, the Real Madrid man came painfully close to scoring in the 94th minute only to be denied by Manuel Akanji. He had one shot on target, one blocked, and a key pass.
Federico Valverde (Uruguay vs Portugal)
Uruguay have perhaps been the most disappointing team in the World Cup this year. The squad is filled with quality players from Rodrigo Bentancur and Darwin Nunez to Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Diego Godin.
The South Americans once again dished out an average game against Portugal, but it was Valverde who seemed the most inspiring in the Uruguayan team.
The in-form midfielder did not pose much threat to the goal on the night but worked like a machine off the ball. He recorded three interceptions, and two tackles, and won two tackles against Fernando Santos’ side in addition to a key pass and a big chance created.