Celta Viga 1 - 4 Real Madrid (Aspas; Benzema, Modric, Vinicius, Valverde). Here’s our immediate reaction upon the final whistle. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, Carlo Ancelotti’s quotes, 3 Q and A’s, stats breakdown, and more.
Real Madrid are off to a strong start in La Liga in the 2022 - 2023 season. After picking up three points in Almeria on Matchday One, they went into Balaidos tonight — a notoriously difficult place to play — and won in convincing fashion while getting tremendous outputs from key players all across the pitch.
Luka Modric turned back the clock (is it even a clock anymore? Is he just permanently on a linear continuum where time is irrelevant? Is he even a different age than he was in 2015?); Aurelien Tchouameni — with eyes all on him — put in a masterful shift at the anchor role; Eduardo Camavinga was a solid two-way presence; and Vinicius Jr, supremely confident from his first touch to his last, ripped Celta Vigo apart.
It was slightly cagey to start, as is par the course with Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti did try to an implement a high press, but there were some issues with the cohesiveness of it which Celta exploited more than once. Both Fede Valverde and Dani Carvajal were shaky on the ball, giving the ball away out of the backline which, in turn, led to some nervy sequences.
Real Madrid received some breathing room in the 14th minute, when Renato Tapia’s handball led to a Karim Benzema penalty. Converted, obviously.
Nine minutes later, Eder Militao’s handball in the box handed Iago Aspas an equalizer from the penalty spot.
From there, Celta threatened little, and the game turned on its head when Luka Modric transcended:
Real Madrid went into half-time leading 2 - 1, and of note, they had gotten really good performances from two players in particular: 1) Vinicius Jr (playing with swag all game, efficient with his touches, and working tremendously hard defensively); and 2) Aurelien Tchouameni (Great reads defensively, good coverage all around, and solid contributions offensively while progressing the ball nicely alongside Camavinga). Vinicius’s task was difficult, especially given he wasn’t getting much help on the left wing while Celta had multiple defenders his way — a familiar sight, to be sure.
Nine minutes after the half-time interval, Luka Modric and Vinicius Jr combined for this madness:
THE BALL FROM MODRIC. THE FINISH FROM VINICIUS.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 20, 2022
WHAT A GOAL BY REAL MADRID pic.twitter.com/WXoqJwDC0Q
(Don’t ask what Celta were doing defensively. I don’t care.)
10 minutes later, Real Madrid increased their lead to 1 - 4, after Tchouameni goes into beast mode and the ball eventually ends up at the feet of Fede Valverde:
Beware the Real Madrid counter! ⚠— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 20, 2022
Tchouaméni wins the ball well and in the blink of an eye Valverde is finishing clinically pic.twitter.com/lXEUaaJ1FM
This could’ve been a bigger lead. As the game wore on, the game opened up more and more, and Real Madrid’s transition opportunities increased. Of note: Substitute Antonio Rudiger had a ridiculous ball-progression sequence, leading to another penalty, which Benzema delegated to Eden Hazard. The Belgian missed the spot-kick.
We’ll break this game down in much more detail in the coming hours. The post-game podcast will go up later tonight, and plenty of written content will be on the website.