Real Madrid made it five goals without reply in their Champions League campaign to date with two late strikes from Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio against RB Leipzig putting Real Madrid top of Group F on six points.
The win at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu came after a hard fought battle against the Germans in the first meeting between the two clubs, but the Spanish side emerged on top.
Here are three stats that explain the game.
4: Years since Real Madrid won their first Champions League match of the season at the Bernabéu
Real Madrid have failed to win their opening Champions League game of the campaign on home turf since 2018, when Isco, Gareth Bale and Mariano scored in a 3-0 win over Roma under Julen Lopetegui. Club Brugge, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol form the illustrious list of clubs who have visited since then to start the European campaign in the Spanish capital, and all three denied Los Blancos the three points. For 79 minutes, it looked as though RB Leipzig could join that list.
Real Madrid have had no shortage of success, particularly in Europe, over that time period, but it does reflect a trend in recent years to get off to a slow start. This, Real Madrid’s eighth consecutive win in all competitions, continues a start to the campaign which looks set to enter the history books as one of the best in decades.
In Europe, it could also prove additionally important given the intense fixture list. With the winter World Cup coming up, securing qualification from the group early and allowing Ancelotti a chance to rest key players even if only for the last group stage game against Celtic in November could make a big difference, while it could give more room for flexibility for the match against Shakhtar Donetsk before the Clásico in October or the game in Leipzig immediately after facing Sevilla.
+2.38: Fede Valverde’s xG overperformance in 2022/23
Another game, another goal, another conversion from a chance which rates at lower than a 10% probability of scoring. Fede Valverde’s strike against Mallorca on Sunday came in at just 0.05 xG, and his opener against Red Bull Leipzig ranked at a marginally more probable 0.08 xG. With a season total of 0.62 and three goals, he is far outperforming his xG and converting chances which he would not normally be expected to score. He’s adding a clinical touch at the perfect time with Karim Benzema unavailable.
For context, the next best xG performance from Real Madrid’s squad this season is Rodrygo Goes who is overperforming by 0.67 xG, three and a half times the margin that Valverde is performing at. Stepping up is what the Uruguayan has done time and time again and bringing this cutting edge to his game has been crucial to build upon his promising form in the right forward position last season. The criticism labelled at him was that Rodrygo or Marco Asensio offered a more direct goal threat. Not any more.
This was the first time that Fede Valverde has ever scored in back to back fixtures, and means that he has already trebled his goal return from last season. Maintaining such form will, of course, be crucial, but this start to the 2022/23 season means he has already matched his personal best tally of three goals from 2016/17 (with Castilla) and 2020/21.
3: Home UCL games in a row without a shot on target in the first half
One of the most remarkable stats of the evening came from Opta as they shared that since their records began in 2003, Real Madrid have only failed to register a shot on target in the first half of three home Champions League matches. Those three have been Real Madrid’s last three Champions League matches, against Chelsea, Manchester City and now RB Leipzig.
Of course all three games have had a happy ending for Madridistas, with the first two leading to victory in Paris. That doesn’t mean that it may not be a slight concern for Carlo Ancelotti. Without Benzema available, Rodrygo lacked the physical presence that would have been able to hold the ball up and get into goalscoring positions in the first half. With just 0.42 xG in the first 45 minutes, compared to Leipzig’s 0.72 xG, the Germans will feel that they had chances to take the lead and change the flow of the game.
Equally, it shows the clinical nature of Real Madrid in Europe. The confidence and belief required, as well as the physical stamina to keep going late on in games, is what has made the difference. Seemingly now part of Ancelotti’s game plan, the Italian is content to allow teams to sit deeper into a low block and try to frustrate Real Madrid before ravaging them as their legs grow tired and he can turn to energy and pace from the bench.