At the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night, 64 minutes had passed and the Real Madrid supporters were complaining.
RB Leipzig controlled the majority of the action and all scoring opportunities. Madrid has failed to make a shot on goal. Changes required to be made by Carlo Ancelotti.
It was expected that Eduardo Camavinga would be the first player to quit; he had not even kicked the ball in midfield. Most people who were watching believed that the rested Toni Kroos would soon enter the game and add more structure to Madrid’s performance.
Instead, Ancelotti chose to insert winger Marco Asensio, who has made few appearances this year after wanting to leave the team. Fans who disapproved of Asensio’s recent behavior loudly whistled when he made his first appearance of the season at the Bernabeu.
Asensio filled Camavinga’s position in the midfield three but Federico Valverde, a midfielder by trade, continued in his role as the “false winger” in the front three, causing some brief confusion along the right side of Madrid’s lineup.
The mood among Madrid’s players and supporters had dramatically changed less than 30 minutes later. Excellent goals from Valverde and Asensio gave their club a 2-0 lead and handed the Champions League champions of last season complete control of group F.
The most urgent and unexpected circumstance was the one involving Asensio. He had reacted violently just the previous Sunday when he hadn’t even been used as a substitute in the La Liga matchup versus Real Mallorca. Because Mallorca is his local team and where he began his career, the extremely public kicking of a water bottle and slumping in the dugout was partially caused by this. However, it was also an expression of his general dissatisfaction with his marginalized position in Madrid.
Madrid’s supporters and commentators did not enjoy what they perceived to be a petulant response from a player who they believed did not need any additional playing time. Asensio’s situation was not well received by his teammates or the coaching staff within the club, who felt that he was solely to blame for the direction his career has taken in recent years.
After signing with Jorge Mendes’ agency, the 26-year-old is claimed to have been disappointed that he had not been able to gain a transfer to another elite team.
After signing with Jorge Mendes’ agency, the 26-year-old reportedly became disappointed that he had not been able to obtain a transfer to another elite club. Of all the players at the Bernabeu, Ancelotti was reportedly the most understanding. On Sunday, what appeared to be a blatant display of disrespect would have been used by many managers to punish a player. However, the Italian claimed to have understood Asensio’s “rage” following that game, and at the pre-Leipzig press conference, the Italian had lauded his “harder work” in practice this week.
When Asensio secured Madrid’s victory on Wednesday with a lovely strike from the edge of the area, sending an unstoppable shot right inside the far post, that strategy appeared especially clever after 90 minutes had passed.
Valverde’s opening goal featured a redemption tale as well, albeit one with a lengthier time frame. The Uruguayan was in a similar circumstance to Asensio in February of last year. After a string of minor injuries, his form deteriorated, and even when he was available, he rarely began. Ancelotti therefore largely favoured Camavinga, 19, as a back-up to the midfield trio of Kroos, Casemiro, and Luka Modric as his first choice.
Valverde understood the lesson at that point and worked to regain his form throughout their Champions League quarterfinal run. His vigor and athleticism were instrumental in Madrid’s heart-stopping comeback victories over Chelsea, Manchester City, and Paris Saint-Germain. That guaranteed him a starting spot in the final against Liverpool in Paris, and he reacted by providing a standout assist for Vinicius Junior’s game-winning goal.
Only one thing was missing from Valverde’s performance: more goals, especially given that he frequently played as one of Madrid’s front three. He had been a consistent scorer while growing up in Uruguay, but in his first four seasons at Real, he managed just five league goals.
There must be some prudence. For Sunday’s La Liga game at Atletico Madrid, Asensio will be back on the bench and Kroos will be back in the starting lineup. Ideally, important center-forward Karim Benzema will also be able to make a full recovery from his injury.
However, Madrid and their coach appear to be able to handle the situation at the moment, regardless of what occurs.