MADRID — Real Madrid continued their red-hot start to the season as goals from Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo were enough to send the LaLiga champions past Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
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Carlo Ancelotti’s team has won all four games this season and is at the top of the table.
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1. Vinicius Jr. adds scoring consistency to his game
Despite all his dramatic improvement last season, which he ended with the winning goal in a Champions League final, Vinicius Junior never managed to hit the net in three straight games. In fact, he hadn’t done so as a Real Madrid player – the last time as a teenager for Flamengo – before that streak of goals against Celta Vigo, Espanyol and now Real Betis on back-to-back weekends.
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Saturday’s attempt was also a special goal – exactly the kind of finish that used to surpass him. He timed his run to David Alaba’s pass behind the defense and, at just the right moment, coolly put the ball over Rui Silva into the Betis goal. It wasn’t all perfect of him, mind you – he had a great chance to restore Madrid’s lead just after Betis equalized and shot over the bar – but the signs are that a player who was once ridiculed for his graduation is now has developed a real goal threat week after week.
Last year’s 17 league goals were hugely impressive – only Karim Benzema and Iago Aspas scored more goals in LaLiga – and if Vinicius can add to that tally this season, that’ll be worrying news for everyone else.
2. Last year’s good Bernabeu mood continues
Saturday was Madrid’s first home game of the season after starting the 2022/23 season with three straight away wins to allow work on the Santiago Bernabeu refurbishment to continue at full speed in August. The new stadium isn’t nearing completion – it’s not expected until May – but on the pitch, the team is seeing the finished article close.
Home games at the Bernabeu were key to Madrid’s wonderful Champions League winning streak last year. This was a very different occasion – a sunny afternoon in early September – but last season’s love affair between the public and Carlo Ancelotti’s team shows no signs of breaking down just yet.
Before kick-off, there was high spirits as the home fans were presented with the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup trophies, and that upbeat mood continued when Vinicius gave the team an early lead. Even Betis’ quick equalizer didn’t do much to dampen the mood of the crowd – Madrid have come back from much, much worse – and Rodrygo’s second-half winner felt like a kind of inevitability.
It’s four league games and four wins for Madrid, with attention returning to that club’s favorite competition, the Champions League, next week.
3. Betis are close but they will be alright
Betis’ 2021/22 season was remarkable: they lifted their first trophy in 17 years by winning the Copa del Rey and finished fifth in LaLiga, just outside of Champions League spots. That success may raise expectations to levels beyond what is reasonable, but a difficult summer transfer market – during which the club spent most of their time registering signings and holding on to key players – was a necessary dose of realism.
Their start to the season was impeccable, with three wins from three they were level at the top with Madrid before Saturday’s defeat and even with that narrow defeat they were long competitive. Sergio Canales is one of LaLiga’s most elegant and influential playmakers – although they unfortunately lost his partner Nabil Fekir early on here through injury – and Borja Iglesias, who assisted Canales in scoring, is an exceptional centre-forward.
The squad has a decent mix of youth and experience – Joaquin, 41, came off the bench late – and manager Manuel Pellegrini is a steady hand.
Last season will be hard to follow, but chasing fourth place is a reasonable goal this time.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois 6; Dani Carvajal (6), Eder Militao (6), David Alaba (7), Ferland Mendy (6); Aurelien Tchouameni (8), Luka Modric (7), Eduardo Camavinga (6); Rodrygo turns 8, Vinicius Junior 8, Karim Benzema 7.
Subtitle: Federico Valverde (7), Dani Ceballos (6), Toni Kroos (6), Antonio Ruediger (6).
Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Rui Silva 6; Youssouf Sabaly (6), Luiz Felipe (7), Edgar Gonzalez (6), Alex Moreno (6); Guido Rodriguez 6, Andres Guardado 6; Sergio Canales 8, Nabil Fekir 5, Juanmi 6; Borya Iglesias 7.
Subtitle: Luiz Henrique (7), Willian Jose (6), Aitor Ruibal (6), Joaquin Sanchez (6).
Best and worst performers
BEST: Aurelien Tchouameni, Real Madrid
A hugely impressive home debut dominating the midfield. Tchouameni looked equally good with or without the ball – earning the applause of an appreciative Bernabeu crowd with some clever touches, clean passes and well-timed interceptions.
WORST: Nabil Fekir, Real Betis
Fekir tends to shine against the big teams but here he barely had time to influence the game before being substituted with an injury.
Highlights and notable moments
As mentioned in the reaction points, the atmosphere at the Bernabeu seemed perfect today. A great day for a great game and it never hurts when the home team wins…
Good to be back pic.twitter.com/PGniwCExpD
— Alex Kirkland (@alexkirkland) September 3, 2022
After the game, Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for the Betis visit:
👔 @Mr Ancelotti: “We started the season well. Today’s game was difficult, we had problems getting the ball because @RealBetis_en is a tough rival. Later we controlled the ball well and were more vertical and we deserved to win.”#RealMadridRealBetis pic.twitter.com/yKVMfz9sCB
— Real Madrid CF 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 3, 2022
After the game: what the managers, players said
“We’re really happy. It’s just starting. After three away games we’re back with the fans and we won. … I’m happy to score a goal and help when we needed it. I come from one injury back and I’m getting better every day…I always want to [to start] and i will keep working, i think i can be [a starter]. spring [Valverde] is a top player, it’s tough to compete with him.” — Rodrygo, Real Madrid forward
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Real Madrid starts the season with 5 straight wins in all competitions for the first time since 2016-17 (first 6 games won this season)
– Real Madrid have won 56% of their LaLiga games against Real Betis (63 wins in 112 games). The only teams it has played at least 100 times and has a higher win rate against in LaLiga are Zaragoza (64%), Espanyol (61%), Celta (59%) and Real Sociedad (57%).
– Of Vinicius’ 40 goals with Real Madrid, 30 were with the right foot, 8 with the left and 2 with a header.
Real Madrid: Can Ancelotti & Co. keep the good mood going? Real Madrid have three games to play in the next 10 days, visiting Celtic on Matchday 1 of the Champions League (6 September) before taking on Mallorca in LaLiga (11 September) and then RB Leipzig on Matchday 2 of the Champions League (14 September). ) receives. It seems reasonable to expect them to remain perfect after this trio of games in the season…
Real Betis: Pellegrini’s side have time to shake off a hard-fought loss to the defending LaLiga champions. The next game is at HJK Helsinki in the Europa League on Thursday, before their home league fixture against Villarreal (September 11). They are still second in LaLiga behind Madrid after four games.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-the-match/story/4736320/vinicius-jr-propels-real-madrid-to-stay-perfect-in-laliga-how-long-can-this-go Vinicius Jr. propels Real Madrid to stay perfect in LaLiga. How long can this go?