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

The main talking points from the goal fest at the Bernabéu.

Real Madrid CF v UD Almeria - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid took part in another 4-2 scoreline, this time in their favour as Los Blancos thrashed Almería. Karim Benzema was the main man, producing a first-half hat-trick, while Rodrygo continued the scoring at the beginning of the second half. Although Almería netted a couple of goals along the way, this was a commanding performance from the home side. There was actually a lot to talk about from this game, so here come three pre-match questions that were answered and three new ones that we should now discuss.

Three answers

1. Could Vinícius match or surpass his 2021/22 numbers in this game?

Vinícius went into this game just one assist away from exactly equalling his direct goal contribution stats from 2021/22. Last year, the Brazilian produced 22 goals and 20 assists across all competitions. With his early assist against Almería for Benzema’s opener, he exactly equalled that stat line and now has 22 goals and 20 assists this season. Considering we’re still in April, those numbers will only increase further. That’s really impressive stuff, as Vinícius has managed to not only repeat the productivity of his breakout season but actually add to it.

2. Would we see more defensive concentration from Real Madrid?

You could tell after the Girona game that Ancelotti was furious about the individual and collective performances in defence. He has stated several times since then that a lack of defensive concentration was the problem and that this needs to be improved. So, would there be more defensive focus here? Well, not for the full game. Real Madrid switched off just before half-time to allow Almería to pull one back, leaving Lázaro completely unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box to tap in. And, the defending on the Robertone goal wasn’t great either. So, there’s still work to be done in terms of that defensive focus.

3. Could Real Madrid approach this game like a Copa del Rey final dress rehearsal?

With this LaLiga game taking place just seven days before the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna, Ancelotti could treat this match as something of a dress rehearsal. The Italian will likely make heavier rotations in midweek against Real Sociedad, but here was an opportunity to field a fairly strong line-up, perhaps the exact starting XI that will play the final, and to do so against a team in Almería who usually play a similar style to Osasuna. Today’s starting XI might even have been the exact Copa del Rey starting XI, which, we should keep in mind, will probably be quite different to the team that starts vs Manchester City three days after the final. We could see Lucas Vázquez start the final and Carvajal start against City, for example. But, Almería didn’t allow Real Madrid to tactically prepare for the clash vs Osasuna, as Rubi’s team totally changed their approach and formation for this trip to the Bernabéu, not even fielding a natural centre-forward.

Three questions

1. How are Benzema’s Pichichi chances now?

With his hat-trick in this win, Benzema closed the gap to Robert Lewandowski at the top of the Pichichi standings. With the Frenchman rippling the Bernabéu net three times this Saturday, he now has 17 league goals and is just one behind Lewandowski’s tally of 18. So, can Benzema actually win this year’s top scorer prize, retaining the title he won last campaign? Ancelotti has said that this isn’t a priority and suggested that Benzema will probably sit out several more games from now to the end of the season, but the fact the Frenchman is even this close is impressive, since he has missed 11 LaLiga matches already in 2022/23.

2. Was Vinícius’ 10th yellow of the LaLiga season actually a welcome one?

As well as adding to his impressive attacking stats, Vinícius also collected yet another booking in this game. The one shown for arguing with the referee in the first half was his 10th of the LaLiga season, which means he’ll have to serve another yellow card accumulation suspension on Tuesday for the away LaLiga game at Real Sociedad. Is this actually a welcome suspension? Considering the Osasuna final and the Manchester City first leg are both coming up afterwards, this rest is actually good news for the winger and for the team. While it’s concerning in general that Vinícius has so many bookings, with six of the 10 being for dissent, this suspension actually comes at a good time.

3. Why was it raining in the Bernabéu press box?

Ending on a personal question: why was it raining in the Real Madrid press box? This match took place under bright sunny conditions – the kind Xavi would probably hate – but the roof of the Bernabéu press box was leaking for the entire game. It was quite a surreal experience, to be watching a game on a sunny spring evening but have a rain filter when watching the action. So, what was happening? Probably it was just some pipe leaking, and you have to remember that this is a stadium under construction. Exceptions like this almost prove the rule, highlighting how incredible it is that the stadium has been operational without many problems during all this redevelopment. But yes, today’s experience was quite freaky. And quite wet.

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