Real Madrid sealed a laboured win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Spanish capital on Wednesday night as they won 2-1 in a game which could easily have ended with a much higher scoreline for the home team, given their total of 36 shots and 3.55 xG.
Here are three stats that help to tell the tale of the game.
7: Andriy Lunin’s Real Madrid appearances without a clean sheet
Seven games into his Real Madrid career, Andriy Lunin is still waiting for his first Real Madrid clean sheet. It’s an unenviable record, one which gives him the highest number of appearances of any goalkeeper to play for the club and fail to record a clean sheet, but he could retain his place against Getafe and change that.
Now, this doesn’t have to be a negative. To be fair to the Ukrainian, he has conceded seven goals from 9.2 xG, which actually shows that he is performing better than would be expected as a goalkeeper in denying the opposition.
Correlation does not equal causation and it would be incredibly harsh to judge the goalkeeper on displays which include two Copa del Rey games against Alcoyano. Conceding there doesn’t lie solely on the shoulders of the man between the sticks.
In fact, when we look back through history, there is an interesting precedent. A certain Iker Casillas conceded in his first 12 starts for Real Madrid. He kept a clean sheet when coming on as a substitute against Atlético Madrid with the team already three goals down in his fourth appearance for the club, but it was not until game number 14 that he last a full 90 minutes without conceding. Then it happened in back-to-back games!
3.24: xG since Karim Benzema’s last goal, but...
Is the form of Real Madrid’s talisman becoming a concern? This was his third game in a row without scoring, with an injury in between, and while that alone may not be a concern, he has missed some big chances.
What’s more, Real Madrid have now underscored their xG by more than one for the second consecutive game for the first time since February. The fact that such a blip occurs as Benzema returns and plays all 180 minutes only 72 hours apart may raise question marks over the management of his fitness. He looked lethargic and off the pace again on Wednesday night, and it may be some time before he is back fully fit and firing at his best.
What is also intriguing is to look beyond the headline. While Benzema’s xG remains high, suggesting he is getting into goalscoring positions, his xA in these games has soared. Since he last scored, his xA per 90 has rocketed to 0.29, from an average of 0.18 xA across the last three seasons.
His goalscoring threat may be reduced, albeit temporarily, but he is doing even more to bring in the others around him to make them become more clinical and lethal in front of goal. That’s helping them too. For example, Rodrygo Goes’ 11th Champions League goal takes him level with Raúl for the record number of goals scored in the competition for the club while under the age of 21.
315: Days since Shakhtar last tasted defeat
There really should be no underestimating this Shakhtar team. At first it looked as though Real Madrid could cruise to an easy victory, but the Ukrainian side were certainly no pushovers. That has much to do with the mentality of a team which hasn’t been beaten in 315 days and we’re unbeaten in 11 matches in a row coming into this encounter at the Bernabéu.
Shakhtar’s tragic circumstances would have given them the perfect excuse to put up little fight against the European champions, but even after this game they remain second in the group with four points having beaten RB Leipzig and drawn with Celtic.
This game showed a continuation of several trends for them. They have now scored six goals from 1.91 xG in the Champions League, while conceding only four from 6.62 xG. They’re grinding out results against all the odds and against the run of play. Real Madrid did well to deny them the chance to inflict the same result on them in Spain, just as they did on their German and Scottish counterparts.
Real Madrid and Shakhtar are familiar foes following all of the meetings in recent years. So much so, that of the three times that Shakhtar have conceded two or more goals in the last 12 months, two have come at the hands of Real Madrid. The Ukrainians will be hoping to keep a shut-out in the reverse fixture to end that streak.