Real Madrid: 4 takeaways from a dream 3-1 win over Liverpool

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid came into Tuesday night’s match against Liverpool with some huge question marks defensively. Dani Carvajal was not yet recovered from his injury, Sergio Ramos had suffered another injury during the international matches, and Raphael Varane tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before the match.

So Los Blancos turned to backups Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez in central defense, and the two defenders delivered.

The end result was a 3-1 win at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, which should have Real swelling with confidence before this weekend’s Clasico and next week’s second leg at Anfield. And Real have Vinicius Junior to thank profusely, as the 20-year-old played the game of his life.

Here are four takeaways from Real’s big win over the Reds.

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Vinicius Junior makes it #ViniDay

That was the hashtag going around Real Madrid Twitter before the match. And Vinicius Junior gave Madridistas something to cheer about throughout the match. Early on, Real kept sending balls over the top to Vini on the left-hand side of the pitch, as Trent Alexander-Arnold was having serious trouble with tracking the Brazilian winger.

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It didn’t take long for Vini to shoulder a beautiful ball from Toni Kroos, and then smash the ball into the bottom corner past Alisson.

Then in the second half, with Real winning by only 2-1 after Mohamed Salah scored, Vinicius responded with a gentle, first-time finish into the far corner to regain Real’s cushion at 3-1.

Vinicius’ composure in his finishes was a sight to behold. We’ve always wondered with Vini, “Imagine how good he could be with additional experience and efficiency in front of goal.”

Well, the young winger was quite clinical against Liverpool. We’ve seen him step up on big stages before, including with spellbinding dribbling in the 3-1 win over Atalanta. But the finishing was lacking in that match, too.

There was nothing lacking about Vinicius against Liverpool. He was creating, scoring, and working for Real Madrid. He was untouchable, and Alexander-Arnold will be having nightmares about this match for a long time. Unforgettable stuff from Vini.

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Marco Asensio scores again

Marco Asensio has now made it four goals in four games. Even as Karim Benzema’s streak of seven straight matches with a goal ended at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Tuesday night, Asensio’s continued after he took full advantage of Alexander-Arnold’s latest error.

Although Asensio messed up a potential goal and assist in the second half for Vinicius, he was tired by that point of the game and needed to be taken off for Fede Valverde.

But before the fatigue, Asensio was strong again for Real Madrid. Earlier this season, Asensio had issues with tracking back defensively, but he did a good job of helping out against Sadio Mane and being there for right back Lucas Vazquez. He had a couple of nice interventions in the box.

When Vinicius and Asensio play like this and finish their chances, Real Madrid are capable of beating anyone.

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Toni Kroos shows the world how good he is

We’ve been talking a lot about how Toni Kroos is having a season for the ages, but it still feels like the 31-year-old is massively underrated. Madridistas give Kroos all the credit in the world, but it seems like fans around Europe do not. Before the match, we had to read the most inane takes on social media from a certain segment of Liverpool fans, basically saying Kroos could not make it in the Premier League.

Well, Kroos absolutely dominated Liverpool, as you’d expect. The Real Madrid left-sided center midfielder had four key passes and created both of the first two goals of the match. Kroos was impossible to press. Liverpool didn’t even bother pressuring him, and when they tried to, he calmly switched the ball to the other side of the pitch with pinpoint precision.

The Kroos and Vinicius connection was the show-stealer in this one, and Liverpool simply had no answers for Kroos’ passing accuracy and command of the pitch. Per, he completed a perfect nine of his nine passes.

Real Madrid, Eder Militao
Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Eder Militao, Nacho Fernandez hold up

Nacho Fernandez had a couple of errors when it came to receiving passes out of the press, while Eder Militao was partially culpable on the goal for taking a poor angle on Diogo Jota, who created the chance that Mohamed Salah buried after Lucas Vazquez played the right winger onside.

But aside from a couple of blemishes, which are to be expected against another elite club in the Champions League, the backup center backs of Real Madrid did well. They played their best in the final stages of the match when Liverpool essentially sacrificed Ozan Kabak for Xherdan Shaqiri and were going all-in for the win. They attacked relentlessly, but Militao and Nacho, along with the likes of Casemiro and Luka Modric in midfield, defended relentlessly.

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This was another big match for Nacho, who has come up big so often this season in the absence of the starters, and it was an even bigger match for the young Militao. I’d say that both men passed the test for Los Blancos. They will be tested again this weekend vs. Barcelona and will have to face an angry Liverpool at Anfield, but Madridistas should feel a little bit more confident about what this pairing can do.