Real Madrid are staying top of the LaLiga table, thanks to a 3-1 win over Sevilla. Even if they’re not having a good season, Sevilla are still a strong team and this was an impressive victory, one that threw up the following talking points.
1. What’s going on with Benzema?
Not for the first time this season, conflicting injury reports about Karim Benzema came out on Friday. Some claimed he was injured. Some said he had completed training normally. Ancelotti said he was fine. So, would he play or not? And, if not, would he still present his Ballon d’Or to the crowd? Well, the Frenchman didn’t make the line-up and was left out with what has been described as minor discomfort, but he did step out on the Bernabéu pitch to present his Ballon d’Or in street clothes. It was a special moment for Madridistas, especially with former Ballon d’Or winners Zinedine Zidane and Luka Modrić part of the festivities.
2. Would Real Madrid make it 15 in a row?
Real Madrid vs Sevilla at the Bernabéu always finishes one way, in a home victory. Coming into this game, Real Madrid had won 14 of their past 15 home matches against the Andalusian side and the one that they didn’t take the three points from was in the coronavirus year at the Estadio Alfredo de Stéfano. Therefore, Real Madrid had won 14 in a row against Sevilla at the Bernabéu, every single meeting since 2008. So, would they make it another home win against the southern side? Yes, of course they did.
3. How would Courtois do after his injury?
After missing six matches with injury, Courtois was back in goals for this one. So, how would he do? Well, the Belgian once again conceded a goal, to mean he still has no clean sheet in seven LaLiga appearances this season. He’ll be disappointed not to have saved from Lamela after getting into a good position to block it, while he only had one more save to make in the game. The best goalkeeper in the world will surely be back to his best before long.
1. How will Vinícius respond to Ancelotti’s praise?
Vinícius didn’t score, but he was the star of the show with two brilliant assists that made it so easy for Luka Modrić and Lucas Vázquez to score. Ancelotti revealed afterwards that he had a chat with the Brazilian following the full-time whistle to tell him how proud he was of the performance. The coach said in the post-match press conference: “Vinícius gave two assists, but two assists to basically make a goal. To me, that can be even better than scoring a goal yourself and I told him that. I told him he should be really happy with what he did today because he should great humility.”
2. Can we stop calling Rodrygo a ‘false nine’?
Rodrygo played at centre-forward in this game and not for the first time. And every time he plays there, he’s described by many as being a ‘false nine’. But, can we stop labelling him as such? Ancelotti has described the Brazilian as “the complete forward” and it’s true. Rodrygo can play right wing, left wing, as a second striker and as a real No.9. Sure, his characteristics are different to most traditional centre-forwards, but that’s also the case with Benzema. As Ancelotti added on Saturday: “Rodrygo is moving around right now and doesn’t have a fixed position, like Benzema.”
3. How long will Valverde be out?
The one sour note to Real Madrid’s excellent final 20 minutes was the injury suffered by Fede Valverde. A frustrated Papu Gómez kicked out at the Uruguayan and Valverde was clearly hurt. How serious was it? Well, the initial analysis is that it’s just a knock and not an actual injury. So, he’ll sit out the midweek game against RB Leipzig, since Real Madrid are already qualified anyway, and should be absolutely fine to return next Sunday against Girona. If he keeps up his great form in that game, he really could win a second LaLiga Santander Player of the Month Award in a row.