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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s win over Celta

The main talking points from Saturday’s win.

Real Madrid V Rc Celta De Vigo - La Liga Santander Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

Real Madrid picked up the three points on Saturday night as they defeated Celta Vigo 2-0, with Marco Asensio scoring the opener before assisting Militão for the second. While it was far from the most important fixture of the season, there were several pre-match and post-match talking points.

Three answers

1. Would Benzema start or was his knock serious?

Coming into this game, there was some mystery over the condition of Karim Benzema. The No.9 was taken off in the Chelsea second leg with “a knock”, one that the player himself wanted to play through before he was withdrawn by the coaching staff. So, would it be serious enough to limit his game time here? Nope, not at all. The French striker played all 90 minutes here and looked fine physically, even if it wasn’t his best performance. The lack of any serious physical issue is really good news for Madridistas.

2. Could Asensio keep up his scoring run?

Marco Asensio got the nod here in a rotated starting XI and he entered the game keen to keep up his recent scoring run. And, he did exactly that when he turned in a Vinícius cutback just before half-time, before later putting in the corner for Militão’s goal. With this latest goal and assist, Asensio now has eight goals and five LaLiga assists this season, in 1,038 minutes across 24 appearances. That works out as a direct goal contribution every 80 minutes, which is the best rate in the entire division for players with more than 10 appearances.

3. How would Gabri Veiga do in his first game at the Bernabéu?

This was also a big opportunity for Celta Vigo’s attacking midfielder Gabri Veiga, who has had an outstanding breakout season at the age of 20. Never before had he played at the Bernabéu, so it was going to be interesting to see how he’d do on this stage. The truth is that it wasn’t his best performance as he started and spent the first hour on the pitch, losing possession several times and failing to contribute anything to attack other than a couple of off-target shots. But, that said more about the way Celta Vigo were dominated in the first half, than it did about him specifically. He is still one to watch, and Real Madrid are indeed watching him and the fact he has a €40m release clause. This was his first performance at the Bernabéu, but certainly not the last…

Three questions

1. Was this Camavinga’s best performance so far?

This was an incredible performance from Camavinga. Even though he was once again deployed at left-back, before shifting into midfield later in the second half, he dominated the game in many senses. As well as locking down his part of the defence, winning 11 duels and making five tackles in the game, the Frenchman also got forward and contributed in attack. Was this his very best performance for Real Madrid? There have been a few standout games of course, as this was his 89th match for the club, but there might not be another game where he was this impressive.

2. Does any other defender have as many goals as Militão?

Militão produced a thumping header for Real Madrid’s second goal of the night, and this kind of sight is becoming quite regular. The Brazilian now has five league goals for the season, all of them headers, which is a quite incredible stat. How incredible? Well, not since Sergio Ramos in 2016/17 had a defender scored so many headed goals in a LaLiga season. Not just for Real Madrid, this is for all teams. The Brazilian is, with his five goals, the defender with the highest scoring tally in the 2022/23 LaLiga campaign and you sense he might not even be done yet.

3. Could a bad Bernabéu pitch be an advantage against City?

The Bernabéu pitch was in a bad state once again, which is really frustrating considering this is already the fourth surface put down this season and it only got changed in the last week of March. The reason for the poor quality is simple: it’s all the dust from the construction work. But, now what? Will Real Madrid change it again? Ancelotti has said they will change it before the Manchester City game. Perhaps a poorer quality pitch could be an advantage against Manchester City, though. Pep Guardiola has never quite reached Xavi levels of gardening inspection, but he does want pristine playing surfaces for his team to zip the ball around on and a slightly bumpier terrain for the first leg might not be the worst thing. However, it seems the club will lay a new turf just before the visit of the Premier League side.

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