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Villarreal 2-1 Real Madrid: Player Ratings



Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid dropped three points away to Villarreal on Saturday night to give Barcelona leeway in the title race. The curse of La Ceramica continued as the men in white have now not won in their last six appearances in the ground.

The visitors never settled into the game and were persistently frustrated and uncomfortable by Quique Setien’s tactics. The Yellow Submarines presses relentlessly on the night, forcing Los Blancos into repeated errors.

There is no question as to which team was superior at Estadio de La Ceramica, for Villarreal dished out a performance for the ages. In all honesty, a 2-1 defeat will come as music to Carlo Ancelotti’s ears.

Yeremy Pino opened the scoring for the hosts early in the second period before Karim Benzema equalised from the penalty spot 13 minutes later.

Setien’s men did not have to wait long to regain their lead, as Gerard Moreno scored from the spot just a minute later.

Madrid Universal brings you the ratings of Real Madrid players from the devastating display on Saturday night.

Thibaut Courtois: 6

The Belgian International was continuously under pressure in the opening half and had to be constantly alert, with Villarreal dominating the play and creating waves of chances. His big moment in the opening half came in the 23rd minute when he threw himself at the ball to save Gerard Moreno’s strike.

Courtois was not to blame for Villarreal’s opener, for he was unpleasantly exposed by his defence. Made one more critical save from inside the box in the second period.

Eder Militao: 7

Militao was deployed as a right-back by Carlo Ancelotti on the night. Despite being played out of position, he was arguably the team’s best player in the first half. Not only did he stay solid in defence but also made valuable runs into the opponents’ final third to threaten on goal.

Antonio Rudiger: 7

Rudiger put up a brave display under pressure and kept his cool even in one vs one situations. He made three clearances, two interceptions, one tackle and won four duels on the night.

In the 74th minute, he single-handedly walled off Samuel Chuckwueze from goal in a pressure cooker situation to ensure the score stayed 2-1.

David Alaba: 5.5

The Austrian International suffered in the opening period and was often caught wrong-footed and out of position. Alaba was uncomfortable against the Yellow Submarines’ high press and struggled to play out from the back.

Seconds after Karim Benzema’s equaliser, the former Bayern Munich man conceded a penalty that gifted back Villarreal the lead. It was unfortunate, however, as the ball struck his hand while he was falling to the ground and attempting to support himself.

Ferland Mendy: 4

Mendy once again exemplified why Real Madrid’s concerns at left-back are warranted as he recorded just four recoveries and two duels won during his time on the field.

His lowest point on the night came immediately after the restart when he gave the ball away poorly to Gerard Moreno. His misplaced pass triggered the opposition’s counter-attack which resulted in the opening goal. Mendy was eventually replaced by Rodrygo in the 64th minute.

Toni Kroos: 8

Even on the team’s worst night, Kroos dished out a special performance. The German completed close to 96% of his passes and provided one key pass against Villarreal.

Further, he made seven accurate long balls from as many attempts and was at the heart of every Real Madrid attack throughout the game.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 3

Not good enough. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Suffered and toiled through his hour on the field, Tchouameni was completely outclassed and outperformed by Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin at La Ceramica. As the pivot, he failed to retain possession and played timid against Villarreal’s high press.

Luka Modric: 3

Completed just 78% of his passes on the night, made no key passes and lacked his usual creative edge. Completed three out of five attempted long balls but did not have much more to contribute. A rare off night for the Croat.

Federico Valverde: 6

The Uruguayan did not do much wrong but lost the possession rather easily on a few occasions. Meanwhile, he also completed 91% of his passes, provided one key pass, created a big chance and made four vital clearances.

Karim Benzema: 8

Benzema was one of the few Real Madrid players on song at La Ceramica, providing two key passes and creating two big chances. He also recorded two shots on the night, one of which was on target.

The Frenchman failed to put the ball into an open goal in the 55th minute but was lucky that an unfortunate error from Juan Foyth gifted him a penalty immediately after. The Ballon d’Or winner made no mistake, burying the ball past Pepe Reina.

Vinicius Jr: 5

The Brazilian International was constantly frustrated by Foyth on the night, who denied him any comfort on the left wing. He missed a big chance in the first half but also recorded two key passes.

He lost possession a whopping 16 times on the night, and it is safe to say that Vinicius was far from his dangerous self.


Lucas Vazquez: 4

The Spaniard came on at the hour mark and took over from Eder Militao at right-back, allowing his teammate to move back to a central position. Did not err, but did nothing flamboyant.

Rodrygo Goes: 5.5

Called upon by the manager when the team desperately needed a goal, the Brazilian came as a whiff of fresh air and posed a constant threat on goal. In less than 25 minutes, he took two shots, missed one big chance and made one key pass.

Eduardo Camavinga: 4

Helped improve the tempo of Real Madrid’s game and did not suffer as much under Villarreal’s relentless pressure.

Marco Asensio: NA

Came on too late to warrant a rating.

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Goals, energy, leadership: Three things Bellingham can offer to Real Madrid



Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Real Madrid have been notoriously heavy spenders in the summer transfer market in the past but have not spent an awful lot over the last few seasons due to financial restrictions and their team finding its peak at the right time.

Real Madrid did shell out close to €100 million for Aurelien Tchouameni last year, and got Eduardo Camavinga in the summer of 2021 for around €400 million, too.

It does seem like they have a huge summer planned ahead of them, though. The club plans to splash some cash on multiple positions, including centre-forward, right-wing, central midfield, and across the defence.

Some targets are laid out for these positions, with Kylian Mbappe naturally being on the list.

However, one definite target for Madrid that’s been well-established already is Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. His price tag is set at around €100-140 million, and Los Blancos are among the teams leading the race for his signature, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool.

The Englishman has an obviously high ceiling and is already among the best players in his position in Europe. Moreover, he adds depth across various skillsets and attributes that Real Madrid currently lack or will lack as the clock marches on.

Madrid Universal explores three different things Bellingham can bring to the table for an already talented Galacticos side.

Goals from midfield

Despite not playing an advanced role, Bellingham is a rather experienced poacher in the box. This comes with his thorough understanding of offensive routines, and timing his runs to perfection in the box.

Being 6’1″ and physically gifted, the teenager can attack crosses and passes into the box with ease. He boasts of a rather impressive leap as well, which was more than visible during the World Cup, when he opened the scoring against Iran.

The English midfielder has scored four goals in the league for Dortmund, and has accumulated an xG of 5.25 across the season. That is nearly two more than Madrid’s highest scoring midfielder – Luka Modric.

Currently, Madrid’s goals are rather lopsidedly dependent on the forward line, with Toni Kroos and Modric just chipping in with a combined six goals in the league out of a possible 51.

While both players, and Camavinga, are adept at shooting from range, neither quite provide the box threat or the third-man runs Madrid are currently craving for.

Goal machine. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Once Karim Benzema or Vinicius Jr are boxed out of the game, Carlo Ancelotti’s side struggle with ideas, and are often stuck in a pattern of crossing and hoping for the best.

And even with that, Bellingham could prove to be an excellent solution to their problems, coming up with late runs into the box and attacking crosses and loose balls.

Youthful energy

Far too many times this season, Ancelotti has been criticised for using Modric and Kroos in the same midfield. Especially when their bench holds the likes of Camavinga, Dani Ceballos, and sometimes even Federico Valverde.

However, it is clear that these players have been delegated to certain roles in midfield. Camavinga and Tchouameni shuffle as pivot options, while Ceballos is called upon add more creativity in the centre of the park.

Bellingham, while far from the best ball retainer, certainly has energy and lungs for days. He can run from box to box, receive and turn in a crowded midfield, and chase the ball till the 90.

While they have Valverde in a similar mould, the Uruguayan has been tasked with running the right-wing more often than not, at least under Ancelotti. It will be interesting to see how another coach would utilise both players to their respective strengths should the transfer go through.

Long-term captaincy candidate

At 19, Bellingham has already shown signs of becoming a captain for any side he plays for, for years to come. He has donned the armband for Dortmund several times this season already, and was first awarded with it in October, becoming the youngest captain in Bundesliga history.

Captain material. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, he holds the position of third captain for Dortmund, behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, but has already held the armband multiple times, including twice in the UEFA Champions League.

While Madrid have a fair few leaders in their ranks, including and not limited to the likes of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and David Alaba, Bellingham has clearly proved that he is not only capable of taking on a leadership role, but also spearheading any side for years to come.

If all works out, the price tag of €120+ million will soon start to pale in comparison to the attributes he brings to the table alongside his unbelievably high ceiling and longevity.

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