Real Madrid 2 - 1 Real Betis (Vinicius, Rodrygo; Canales). Here’s our quick reaction at the final whistle. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes from the press conferences, and much more.
Managing Madrid was press row at the stadium tonight, where fans at the Bernabeu enjoyed Real Madrid’s first home game since the 2021 - 2022 season. Carlo Ancelotti’s men created several great chances, and probably should’ve put this game to bed much sooner than scraping by with a marginal victory; but it’s hard to argue with getting 12 points out of a possible 12 while new signing Aurelien Tchouameni continues to get integrated smoothly and Vinicius Jr continues to play with confidence and efficiency.
This evening’s immediate reaction will come out similar to my personal notebook. Several bullet points from the game, tactical and otherwise:
- I’ve enjoyed Rodrygo not providing symmetry. Ancelotti hasn’t deployed the Brazilian as a traditional right-winger who keeps width and spacing, but rather has him overloading the left side constantly alongside Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema. That in itself created several clear cut chances (and also the winning goal against Espanyol last week), and Rodrygo was unlucky not have a couple assists.
- Another terrific Tchouameni game. The way he covered ground tonight was remarkable, and perhaps that’s specifically important because beyond a couple good pressing sequences early, Real Madrid’s defensive structure could’ve been better. Nevertheless, Tcouameni’s positioning all over the field was impressive, as was his defense and ball-winning. He also won six aerial duels.
- This was Eder Militao’s best game in a long time. He had five crucial defensive interventions by my count. He got to every 50/50 ball with authority, and stopped several breaks.
- Real Madrid’s 1 - 0: Classic ball progression from David Alaba and elite off-ball movement from Vinicius. Beautiful finish as well:
- On that note, Alaba and Mendy did that thing where they switch positions regularly. Alaba was everything from a left center-back, left-back, and inverted wing-back today. It worked. Their understanding has been good from the beginning. That’s still the best solution to get the best out of both of them.
- Dani Carvajal got quite a bit of criticism today, particularly for not marking Sergio Canales on Betis’s equalizer, but he worked hard to win the ball, track back, and even had the hockey assist for Real Madrid’s winning goal....
- .... Which by the way, was perfect movement and passing from Fede Valverde (who had just been introduced as a substitute). It was his cut-back that gave Rodrygo the goal.
That's my favourite Fede thing: Subtle off-ball run into the half space that breaks the entire defense. Rodrygo deserved that. He's had a hell of a game.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) September 3, 2022
There is a lot more to discuss from this game, including the performance of Karim Benzema, which we’ll break down in great detail on tonight’s post-game podcast. Lots of coverage coming your way tonight.