Real Madrid 3-2 UD Almería (Bellingham, Vinícius Júnior & Carvajal). A bizarre game. Here is my reaction to the match. On the way: Player ratings, post game interviews and a podcast.
Real Madrid would be looking to bounce back from their cup exit in the derby with a league match against bottom of the table Almería. For some reason (despite an at times shaky game from Andriy Lunin), Kepa Arrizabalaga was back starting in goal despite being the weaker option. There were no real shock changes anywhere else. On the bench, Eduardo Camavinga sat next to Luka Modrić and Arda Güler. One of the best Castilla graduates of all time in his position in Sergio Arribas started for the visitors. Nacho Fernández captained the team.
The first half was a weird one. Within a minute Madrid were 1-0 down as the away side won the ball immediately and an attacker was allowed to gain the ball in the box with time and send a strike past Kepa Arrizabalaga. The visitors then dominated the opening minutes, with Los Blancos only managing to make it an even playing field at best as the half went on. Things turned disastrous when a peculiar goal went in from distance, with Kepa somehow beaten. The visitors ended the half on top once more, going into the break with a shock 2-0 lead.
The whole of Real Madrid Twitter has just unleashed on Kepa after that goal they just conceded. It's nailed on his coming back in the summer.— Chelsea Dodgers (@TheBlueDodger) January 21, 2024
I really hope there is a buyer out there for him.
The second half started slower than Madrid needed, but took an important turn when VAR checked out a dubious penalty shout and awarded a spot kick. Jude Bellingham rolled the ball in and the comeback was on. So it seemed anyway, as a good low finish from Sergio Arribas looked to end any hopes of a result. Having not seen a replay to confirm why, VAR was again at hand to disallow that goal to the frustration of the away players. This gave Madrid another helping hand, as they equalised shortly after Vinícius Júnior did very well to turn a cross into the box into a strong shot using his shoulder, giving the goalkeeper no chance. VAR was up again to check, but again favoured Madrid, confirming the 2-2 score-line. Jude Bellingham thought he had won the game with time to spare, but his goal was then disallowed for offside. Vinícius had another strong chance to take the lead, but couldn't convert this time. There was a large amount of time added on for all of the VAR controversies, which would just lead to even more madness. First off, a wasted chance from Aurélien Tchouaméni at the edge of the box. Then, a red card for an Almería player after a second bookable challenge. Finally, a late winner after Dani Carvajal capitalised on a Bellingham header to score Madrid’s third.
I can’t wait to listen to the VAR discussions when they’re released tomorrow/Tuesday.— Michael (@LaLigaMichael) January 21, 2024
Almeria will feel they were on the receiving end of some unfair calls that cost them a historic upset if Real Madrid.
Outrage in La Liga today. pic.twitter.com/02cIOWGsZP
Full time, 3-2 after a really bad game - but one thing remains clear: the level needs to be raised heavily after a big drop off post SuperCup, and fast. Any thoughts?