Real Madrid emerged unscathed from a potential banana skin in Portugal as they overcame Braga to make it three wins from three in the Champions League, a record only matched by Bayern Munich across groups A through to D.
The 2-1 win came from a Rodrygo goal early on, followed by a second from Jude Bellingham who scored his third goal in as many games in the competition for the club. Álvaro Djalo, who announced he was a Barcelona fan in the build-up to the game, pulled one back for the home team with a well-taken shot past Kepa.
These three stats take a look at some of the curious facts from the game.
41: Shots later, Rodrygo scores again
It is no surprise to anybody reading this that Rodrygo Goes has had something of a goal drought. going 954 minutes without scoring for Real Madrid since he scored the team’s first strike of the season at San Mamés against Athletic Club in LaLiga.
Over those 954 minutes, he has attempted 41 shots, with 12 on target, and has had an incredible 6.43 xG without scoring. There has been much discussion surrounding his position, but Carlo Ancelotti has persisted with deploying the Brazilian as a number nine and it was that approach which eventually paid off as he got his goal.
He opened the scoring in Portugal, though, as he nipped in at the near post to poke home Vinícius’ cross and give Real Madrid the lead. It was a poacher’s finish with the little slice of luck that has been missing from the Brazilian’s game in recent weeks.
In doing so, he became the club’s joint-fifth highest goalscorer in the Champions League, drawing level with legends like Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo Nazario, Luis Figo, Guti, Gareth Bale, and his own teammate, Vinícius. It’s a testament to his incredible goalscoring record in the tournament, and there still seems to be potential to climb even further, with Fernando Morientes only one goal ahead on 17.
1.34: xG conceded per 90 this season, the highest since 2018/19
A worrying trend for Real Madrid this season has been the number of chances conceded. While the season average now sits at 1.34 xG against per 90, this game was again above that average, with Braga having 1.48 xG compared to Real Madrid’s 0.8. It was only clinical finishing which saved Real Madrid, with Braga registering an impressive seven shots inside the box.
The season average figure of 1.34 is a number which is up from 1.27 in 2022/23, and increased slightly from 1.3 in 2021/22. All three seasons with Carlo Ancelotti in charge are a significant increase from the 0.97 xG against per 90 and the 1.14 which Zinedine Zidane registered in 2019/20 and 2020/21 respectively.
In 2018/19, the figure would reach 1.37, the highest since xG figures have been accurately recorded. Equally, it must be noted that if we limit this calculation to just LaLiga and the Champions League, the only two competitions Real Madrid have been involved in to date, the figure drops to 1.33. For an even more direct comparison, at this stage of the season with Julen Lopetegui only days away from the sack, the number was 1.15 xG against per 90.
It’s a concern for Ancelotti that this team is conceding so many high-quality chances. Barcelona this weekend will provide a tough test of the side’s abilities to defend and shut down a prolific attack. With the injuries suffered in the backline, it’s not a surprise, but it is still a worry for the team.
4: Portuguese teams to have faced Real Madrid
This was the first official meeting between Real Madrid and Braga, making them the fourth team from the other side of the Iberian peninsula to take on Los Blancos. They join Porto, Benfica and Sporting in an exclusive group and makes them the first side outside of the nation’s “big three” to take on the Spanish giants.
It was the 22nd time that Real Madrid have taken on a Portuguese team, but was curiously only Real Madrid’s second win against a Portuguese team on their home soil in the past 20 years. The previous win came against Sporting in 2016, when Karim Benzema scored an 87th minute winner in Lisbon.
Before that, you had to go all the way back to 2003, when a certain Jose Mourinho was in charge of Porto as they fell to a 3-1 defeat courtesy of goals from Iván Helguera, Santi Solari and Zinedine Zidane at the Estádio das Antas.
Braga would have been hoping for a fate more similar to that of Benfica, who have won both of their previous meetings with Real Madrid on home turf. They came in 1962 and 1965 in the old format of the European Cup, but they remain unbeaten at home against Real Madrid thanks to those two wins.
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