Real Madrid returned to winning ways on Wednesday evening, defeating Las Palmas 2-0 thanks to goals from Brahim and Joselu. The first goal arrived at the end of a first half in which it looked like Real Madrid were cursed in front of goal, but the Spaniard popped up to open the scoring and steer the team towards three points. There’s a lot to discuss after this one, so let’s do so with three answers and three new questions.
1. Would the diamond be used in Bellingham’s absence?
When the starting XI was released there were a few rotations, something totally normal for a midweek round of LaLiga action. One of the players rested was Jude Bellingham, while there were changes at both full-back spots, so fans were wondering if the diamond formation – which was constructed around and to help the Englishman – would be kept. More or less, it was, with Brahim occupying the Bellingham role. And, the Spaniard had a good game, opening the scoring right at the end of the first half when he converted with Real Madrid’s 18th shot of the game. He was brought off on the hour mark, but absolutely made the most of his first start of the season and made the case that he deserves more minutes.
2. How many minutes would Vinícius play?
Vinícius was back in the squad and expected to play some part in this game. So, when would he be substituted on? Well, the Brazilian came on in the 57th minute, with the score already at 2-0 by that point. That was surely the best possible circumstance for him to be reintroduced. With Real Madrid at home against a much weaker opponent and comfortably leading, there wasn’t any pressure on Vini’s shoulders as he looked to regain his match sharpness. He had 21 touches during his half hour or so on the pitch, but he’s back and now the question is whether he’ll be fit enough to start at high-flying Girona on Saturday.
3. Could Real Madrid beat Las Palmas at their possession game?
The Las Palmas of García Pimienta are an interesting team. They have been dominating possession since being promoted back into the league in the summer, boasting the third-highest possession stats (an average of 57.5%), behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid. So, who’d win the battle for the ball in this one? Well, it was the islanders in the end, as they finished with 53% by the time of the final whistle. That led to a classic Ancelotti line, when he was asked about this after the game. “I’m not a super fan of possession, I’m a super fan of goals,” he said.
1. What percentage of Joselu’s goals will come at the Bernabéu?
Joselu is now on to three goals for the season, and all three of them have come at the Bernabéu. That makes some sense, considering that most of his minutes have also come at the Bernabéu. The striker is playing 75 minutes on average per home game this season, compared to 34 minutes on average per away game. This is more than just a coincidence, as Ancelotti spoke recently about how he thinks Joselu can be more effective in the types of situations Los Blancos will face at home, rather than away. After the Real Sociedad win, the coach said of the striker: “It’s no coincidence that he’s scored two goals in these two home games because he has more chances when we play at home and play more crosses and can be closer to the opposition goal.”
2. Can Rodrygo’s assist help end his goal drought?
Rodrygo’s goal drought has continued for another game, with the Brazilian failing to take multiple decent chances. It was interesting to hear Ancelotti talk about it afterwards and suggest that the issue is psychological. “The goal will come at the moment when he doesn’t think about scoring,” the coach said. If it is a matter of confidence, then surely Rodrygo’s assist for Joselu in this game will help in that sense. The Brazilian’s quickly flicked cross was perfect and was just his second goal contribution of the season, after scoring in the opener against Athletic. It wasn’t a Rodrygo goal, but this key contribution will surely boost his confidence.
3. How serious are the injuries to Alaba and Rüdiger?
There was fresh injury panic for Real Madrid, as David Alaba had to go off in the first half with an issue and as Rüdiger finished the game limping. With Éder Militão already out injured, that’s a major concern in central defence. We don’t know the full extent of either injury yet, but it is expected that Alaba will miss Saturday’s trip to Girona. Rüdiger, meanwhile, should be able to make it, but it’s a far from ideal situation.