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Immediate Reaction: Club Brugge 1 - 3 Real Madrid

It was ugly, but Real Madrid round out the group stages with a victory. Now to look ahead to bigger things.

Club Brugge KV v Real Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Club Brugge 1 - 2 Real Madrid (Vanaken; Rodrygo, Vinicius). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and tactical review.

Three points and no injuries — it’s hard to ask for more than that as two big games loom beyond the horizon. Tonight’s game in Bruges was difficult and ugly, against a team fighting to keep their season alive — a team not shy about putting in reckless challenges in.

Similar to the game at the Bernabeu in October, where these two sides drew 2 - 2; both Emmanuel Denis and Percy Tau worked well up front to give Real Madrid’s backline problems. Dennis in particular, was a handful to deal with, and often made dangerous runs in-behind Alvaro Odriozola down the flank which got Brugge into good attacking positions. Varane and Casemiro both covered well on that side for the most part, but the space was there, and was particularly exploited in the first half when Rodrygo — well-intentioned in his pressing — hedged too high and ignored the passing lanes behind him.

In midfield, Brugge swarmed Modric with two or three players every time he had the ball, which stifled Real Madrid’s build-up. Getting the ball up the field was laborious, and every time Zidane’s men tried to progress the ball down the flank through Vinicius; Brugge’s right-back Odilon Kossounou kept him in check (and even man-handled him twice). There wasn’t much going for Real Madrid offensively apart from the odd Isco dribbling sequence.

The second half had some more life, if you will. In the 53rd minute, on what seemed like a tame build-up, Odriozola made a blitzing off-ball run down the flank — found expertly by Modric — before crossing to Rodrygo:

Within two minutes, Real Madrid conceded the equalizer through a bizarre sequence. Eder Militao gave the ball away on a pass coming out of the back. Odriozola at that moment was essentially playing in attack. Rodrygo tried to cover for him, and did well to initially win the ball back but had a bit of bad luck and stumbled over.

Nine minutes later, Vinicius gave Real Madrid the winning goal. After a nice touch and pass from Jovic to Rodrygo, the ball eventually fell to Vinny:

As I finish this reaction, Modric scores Real Madrid’s third in the 91st minute — a slick one-touch far post curler from outside the box.

There were interesting wrinkles to this game, and some more ‘big picture’ stuff (Casemiro / Benzema playing time, Valencia looming, etc) which we’ll tackle on tonight’s post-game podcast. Three points, no injuries — it was a good day.

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