A quick tactical read on Madrid’s first loss
All streaks are bound to perish and Real Madrid’s 20-match-long unbeaten streak ended in Germany on matchday five of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Already missing captain Karim Benzema, vice-captain Luka Modric, and arguably the team’s best player right now, Fede Valverde, Real Madrid were also missing their sharpness and intensity in this game.
Only Manchester City has more touches in the final third than Real Madrid in this edition of the Champions League. 30% of Real Madrid’s total touches are in the opponent’s defensive third. However, against Leipzig, this number dropped to 21.6%.
Real Madrid struggled to circulate the ball against Leipzig’s aggressive and well-organized pressing. Leipzig’s counter-pressing was also efficient and quick. Among Madrid’s touches in their final third most were just outside the halfspaces. Getting the ball past Leipzig’s last line of defense felt tedious for Madrid’s players who were not helping themselves with the lack of urgency in their movement on and off the ball.
Leipzig’s transition dynamics kept troubling Real Madrid’s defense throughout the game. Madrid’s defensive unit probably had its worst game of the season. The lack of synergy, communication, and lack of organization in their positioning resulted in conceding three goals.
The only positive from Madrid’s game was perhaps the performance of Eduardo Camavinga who had the chance to showcase some of his skills, decision-making, and passing acumen under pressure. Camavinga did not participate in defensive actions as much as he would usually do. But he had to take the initiative in the midfield with his passing and ball-carrying. Camavinga often played as the furthest midfielder as Kroos and Tchouameni both had to drop deep to just sustain possession at times.
Real Madrid need to immediately bounce back over the weekend when they will face Girona in LaLiga before hosting Celtic for the final game of the Champions League group stage next week.
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