What was at stake?
Coming into the game, Real Madrid were on the brink of dropping to the Europa League as they needed to avoid defeat against an in-form M’gladbach side to go through to the round of sixteen of the Champions League. Anything other than defeat was enough, but the probabilities of a win were slim as well. After a horrible display against Shakthar last time out, Los Blancos had to put up a fight in their final group game.
How did the game pan out?
The game had a slow start to it, and Real Madrid were moving the ball comfortably. For the first five minutes, the game looked even and well balanced. However, within the next five minutes, Real Madrid started to look dangerous on the flanks. With the involvement of Casemiro in the midfield, Real’s full-backs were allowed to push higher. Madrid then had a quick attack, and Lucas Vazquez delivered a lovely cross, which was headed goalwards by Karim Benzema. A strong leap and perfectly executed header gave the home side the lead.
Real Madrid kept the ball moving and had a couple of good moments in the final third. Soon later, Los Blancos doubled their lead through another Benzema header. This time it was Rodrygo with another beautiful cross, which Benzema finished with ease. M’gladbach had a great chance, which fell to Alassane Plea, and he looked likely to beat Courtois after being played through on goal. However, the French international chipped Courtois and went across the goal and missed the target in the process. That was the moment Madrid became slightly aware of what could happen, but it was a huge chance poorly missed for the away side.
Zidane’s side dominated the first half in all departments. Madrid had 64% of the ball and had 7 shots with 3 on target and 2 in the net. M’gladbach had only 4 with 3 off target, including Plea’s one-on-one chance. The German side defended pretty well and still had a chance of coming back, given they were just two goals down.
The second half started with Marco Rose making two offensive changes by sending on Valentino Lazaro and Denis Zakaria. Lazaro was brought to provide pace on the lanes. In contrast, Zakaria was sent on to increase the intensity in the press. It worked quite well as Marco Rose’s side looked more robust in the midfield but still couldn’t beat Madrid’s veteran midfield trio.
Real Madrid created some glorious opportunities in the second, and most of them fell to Karim Benzema. Two of them were again splendid crosses which he headed, but Yann Sommer had them saved. The other won was a powerful volley that hit the inside of the crossbar and somehow failed to cross the goal line.
However, Real Madrid got the huge result they needed, and the performance also carried a statement with it. On the whole, Madrid could now look forward to their knockout round, and the same goes for Borrusia M’gladbach. The German side always qualified despite losing as Inter and Shakthar played out a goalless draw, which enabled the Ukrainian club to progress to the knockout rounds.
Fixture Details: [fixture 17361034]
A player who has been criticized a lot this season for various reasons. However, his ability to play in different positions is what makes him well-trusted by his manager. Vazquez not only assisted the first goal but was critical in some of his defensive contributions as well. He made 1 clearance, completed 1 interception, and also 1 tackle. The unnatural full-back was not dribbled past a single time throughout the game against an attack-minded side.
The 29-year-old completed an impressive 5 key passes, 4 crosses as well as 5 long balls. He also created 3 big chances and hit the woodwork once. Undoubtedly one of his best performances for the Spanish giants, and with Carvajal’s injury issues, Vazquez could be important this season.
The player because of whom both the full-backs and both the advancing midfielders had an effective game. Zidane’s decision to play Casemiro was a crucial one, and he got it spot on. Maybe not the most beautiful players, but when you have Kroos and Modric alongside you, then it’s essential to be defensively sound.
The 28-year-old won 3 duels, 1 tackle, and also completed 1 interception and 1 clearance each. He also completed 5 long passes along with 58 passes in total and recorded 87.9% accuracy in the process.