Saturday, December 9, 2023

Real Madrid-Braga: To the round of 16, with Brahim and Lunin

Europe is therapeutic for Real Madrid. Enhance your self-esteem, clear your debts, reaffirm your strengths... Ancelotti must be delighted every time he sees a Champions League match on the calendar. In this one against Braga that served to seal their place in the round of 16 (they lack one point to close the lead), Lunin and Brahim vindicated themselves, Vinícius and Rodrygo scored, and Bellingham watched the game peacefully on the bench.

Lunin’s saved penalty

It is customary in Madrid for matches against rivals with less pedigree to be chaotic. Due to unforeseen events, Real Madrid laziness or rival impudence. Before this happy Braga all the starting ingredients were given. The game started before the opening whistle for Ancelotti, since the replacements in the eleven, with the entrances of Nacho, Lucas and Brahim, were compounded by Kepa’s injury in the warm-up. An inopportune puncture gave the opportunity to Lunin, who after five minutes saw Lucas Vázquez commit a penalty that was as naive as it was unnecessary. Penalty that generated an argument in the Braga ranks, with Horta demanding that Zalazar take it, but in the end Djalo executed it. And there the figure of the Ukrainian goalkeeper emerged, who in his first intervention was right by placing an accurate low hand.

Brahim’s goal

An asymmetrical and unorthodox Madrid did not connect to the game while Braga liked themselves with the ball at their feet. Bruma took advantage of Lucas’s bad night and Carletto kept giving orders because he didn’t like what he saw. Until in the 26th minute Mendy, as if possessed by Modric, filtered a pass behind the defense, where Rodrygo appeared to gain the baseline and serve it behind the arrival of Bellingham…and there Brahim appeared. In the absence of the Englishman, the man from Malaga scored his second goal (the first was disallowed due to a prior foul by Vinícius) assuming the honors and showing the electricity that this Madrid needs.

The goal did not discourage Braga, who continued to exhibit all the good and bad of their game. His speed in attack, his defensive fragility. The game arrived at half-time with Vinícius continuing to leave disturbing sensations and the shock uncorked. With Madrid in energy saving mode, Braga was not able to generate chances against Lunin. Only when Brahim or Rodrygo accelerated did they smell the second, the one Ancelotti was waiting for to sit on the bench with the match decided and the pass to the second round sealed.

Vini and Rodrygo, in three minutes

He warned with a shot from Brahim after a pass from a generous Vinícius, but Matheus took the shot from point-blank range. And in the end the goal came in a quick deployment after a robbery by Camavinga with a stampede by Valverde and Lucas that the full-back served to the area, where Vinícius now appeared to close the clash. There was half an hour left in the process for a Madrid that forced the Portuguese to go up and spaces appeared. And only three minutes after Vinícius’ goal A counter between him and Rodrygo ended with the latter’s goal. Braga became a therapy for Ancelotti’s team, with goals from the Brazilians and another from Brahim, who thus vindicated himself.

The finale served for youth player Nico Paz to make his debut, for Modric to add good feelings and for Joselu to sharpen his instincts. Fourth victory of the Madrid in four games that put him back in the playoffs for the title (32 leagues played, 32 times classified). One more point will give you the lead and will allow you to avoid any awkward crossings. Napoli must visit the Bernabéu in the most palatable match of the group and Madrid will close the group by visiting Berlin in another accessible match. Now let’s think about Valencia, where Lunin will defend the goal with justice after paving the way for the team in this match by saving the initial penalty.


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