Real Madrid Show Exactly Why Experience Matters In The Champions League

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid showed the world the value of experience in football’s most prestigious competition.

Real Madrid have done it again. They have once again performed extremely well under pressure. Each time they are in a rough spot, they give in an incredible performance and win the hearts of fans, along with winning the game itself. This game against Borussia Monchengladbach was no different. In what was easily their best performance of the season, the team clicked at the right time. They were balling. That’s something you don’t really say for Real Madrid these days, given how inconsistent and underperforming they have been. But that wasn’t the case in their most important game of the season so far. They knew what was at stake, and they showed the hell up. The best (or worst) part is, it could’ve been a hell of a lot more than just 2-0.

In all honesty, I haven’t seen the team play this well in more than a year. The last time I enjoyed a Real Madrid performance this much was way back in November last year, in the game against PSG, or the game against Galatasaray on the matchday before that. It was beautiful, and so was this. Apart from (unfortunately) Vinicius Jr, each and every player either performed really, really well – or did what they had to do since they didn’t see much of the ball. Raphael Varane did his job very well, Courtois saved a couple of shots but was largely untested. Rodrygo had a great assist and a couple of other fantastic crosses. The rest? Absolutely brilliant performances from every remaining starter. I’ll give you a few examples.

After months of seeing a mediocre, burned-out Casemiro ever since the continuation of last season post-lockdown, we finally saw the Casemiro that we know and love. It was easily his best performance of the season, and it’s not even close to the one on second place. He did almost everything right. His passing was great (except on a few occasions); he had that beautiful pass to Rodrygo in the build-up to the second goal. Defensively he was sound as ever, although he didn’t have a lot to do. He had two tackles, won both of them, had 15 presses and was successful in six of them, which was the highest percentage (40%) for anyone who attempted more than five presses. He had SEVENTEEN recoveries, third-highest for the season. He didn’t lose the ball at all. In short, great performance. Looks like he’s close to getting back to his best.

Karim Benzema is the leader of this team’s attack. He helps in the build-up, in the attack, in times of high press from the opposition. You know very well what he does. When he plays well, the team plays well. It’s directly proportionate. Well, Karim Benzema played really well. Like with many other players, this was his best performance of the season, and like the rest of the team, the guy showed up when it mattered most. Two great goals, two great headers, along with so many more chances that were saved fantastically by Yann Sommer (he even hit the bar once!). He had five key passes, and four passes into the penalty area, completed 54 out of his 57 passes (94.7%), his highest numbers this season, both in terms of attempts and pass completion. 70 touches, again, his highest number this season. He could’ve scored a hat-trick easily if luck was a little more on his side.

Toni Kroos was also incredible. Again, another experienced player that has won more Champions League trophies than most clubs, much like the players I’ve mentioned above and below. He was absolutely brilliant in this game. He had that sense of calmness, and like always, did that simple move to get out of press so elegantly. Even in those situations, he didn’t lose the ball a single time. 107 touches, 96 out of 103 passes completed. You know what this guy can do.

Lucas Vazquez, in the simplest way I can put it, had arguably the best game of his entire career. Five key-passes, 117 touches, a beautiful assist, sound defensively, and a billion other things while playing on a position that’s not even his? This performance deserves a lot of praise. Wow.

Luka Modric is a gift of God. He showed us exactly why he is still around. It was his best game in two years and a half, by far. It reminded me of his performances in the three-peat era. The great ones. He is 35 years old. He has been playing without break for so long, and he dropped this performance as if it were easy to do. The best player on the pitch in that game, arguably. Everything he touched turned into gold. I repeat, he is 35 years old.

Next. 5 Real Madrid players who must shine against Atletico Madrid. dark

From being almost out of the group stage in humiliating fashion to winning the group, Real did it all in one game. That too, in style. That’s what experience gets you.

Real Madrid continue with the most important string of games in the calendar so far, facing city rivals Atletico Madrid next. With the form they’re in, every single player would have to be at their best if the team has any chance to beat the league leaders, and get a head-to-head advantage.