On the final group stage game — Matchday 6 in Group D — Real Madrid took care of business against Inter Milan to top the group, and potentially, carve themselves an easier opponent in the round-of-16.
This was a battle for first place at the Bernabeu, featuring two teams that fielded strong lineups. Real Madrid, fielding their strongest available XI — at least in Carlo Ancelotti’s eyes — started the game on the back-foot, as they let Inter have the ball, and struggled to stay compact and close down Inter’s midfielders. Brozovic and Barella were allowed to pick out incisive passes, and Carlo’s men were reliant on big challenges in and around the box — particularly from Eder Militao, Luka Modric, and Casemiro. Vinicius (who was good again defensively) and Rodrygo, worked hard on the wings to help their fullbacks.
Got better towards the end of the half. Lots of reliance on big Casemiro / Modric interventions in Zone 14 though. Shape overall hasn't been good enough to keep a very good Inter team out of dangerous spots.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) December 7, 2021
Real Madrid were set up to attack on the counter-attack as they defended deep, and relied on getting the ball to the Brazilian wingers as quickly as possible. It took them a while to get going, but eventually they found space to attack, particularly when Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal moved up the pitch with underlapping runs.
Real Madrid’s opening goal came through a beautiful build-up sequence, capped by a Toni Kroos long-range stinger:
Toni Kroos shows off his range again— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 7, 2021
(via @TUDNUSA) pic.twitter.com/Pj4c4OuNVD
In the second half, Real Madrid improved on a few things: They pressed a bit better, and were able to calm the game down and have less chaotic defensive moments.
A key moment in the game arrived when, after a strong challenge from Militao, Nicolo Barella retaliated with a punch to the Brazilian’s leg. He received a red card for this incident:
Barella was sent off for this! #UCL— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) December 7, 2021
Inter did not threaten much from that point on. They lost a key creator and ball progresor. Any attacks through subs Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal were tame and harmless. Inter also struggled with Real’s pressing.
Real Madrid substitute Marco Asensio sealed this win with an absolute classic Asensio banger:
You won't see a cleaner strike than this— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 7, 2021
Marco Asensio with an absolute rocket for Real Madrid #UCL pic.twitter.com/p6aRLdhWvV