La Liga title hopes hung in balance when Real Madrid faced Girona on Saturday night. Carlo Ancelotti was dealt with another defensive blow as Los Blancos had zero available center-backs ahead of the game. Despite this, the Italian continued to find a way, starting the game with a center-back pairing of Aurelien Tchouameni and Dani Carvajal with Lucas Vazquez at right-back. Madrid allowed just 0.1 expected goals against Girona, which is their joint lowest tally in any game this season. They did all of this without compromising their offence.
The Royal whites accrued an xG of 3.1 themselves. The diamond formation with Jude Bellingham at the tip and the Brazilian duo up top wreaked havoc on the Catalan side.
Here are the three standout performers from Madrid’s 4-0 win over Girona.
The Kaiser. German Sniper. Maestro. Whatever you refer to Kroos as, the common denominator in this is the fact that he is one of the best midfielders of our generation. If this is curtains on his illustrious career, then he is truly going out on a high.
Toni Kroos misplaced just one pass in the entire 90 against Girona, completing all of his 18 long ball attempts. His progressive pass tally of six was the highest by any player in the game. His passing mastery allowed him to find targets to spread and progress play at will but his defensive effort was also superb.
Partnered by Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde in midfield, Kroos sat at the base and helped pick up loose balls as well. His tally of seven ball recoveries was the highest by any player in the game as well. His territory map would highlight his presence and influence in the middle of the park.
Imagine being the top scoring English player for Real Madrid. Imagine being the top goalscorer of La Liga midway through the season. Imagine doing all this in your first season.
Jude Bellingham doesn’t have to imagine this, he has all these accolades to his name and more. The Englishman scored twice — once with an injured left foot — to give Madrid a three-goal cushion. His movements to appear on the left flank or occupy the central zones to receive passes and maintain box threat is exemplary.
Despite only spending about six months at Madrid, he has developed synergies with the squad and has received multiple standing ovations from the Bernabeu faithfuls. His run on the first goal and his awareness inside the penalty box makes him a threat at all times.
With 16 league goals and three assists, the former Dortmund man is well on his way to reach the 25 goal mark for the season.
When Vinicius is on song, every defender looks amateurish against him. He was schooling Yan Couto on the field with his dribbles and skills. The Brazilian’s tally of nine dribbles was the highest by any player in the game and he completed five of those take-on attempts. His ball carrying was incisive and caused a lot of problems for Girona and his movements and positioning to receive the balls stretched their backline out allowing space for others (like Bellingham) to attack.
His assist for Bellingham’s first was straight out of Modric’s book of trivelas and was executed with perfection. The Brazilian has now recorded a goal or an assist in each of his last four league appearances, including this one. He currently sits on seven goals and four assists to his name. The 23-year-old is coming into his best just at the right moment ahead of the resumption of Champions League.