Real Madrid finish Champions League group stage with perfect record

Real Madrid Champions League
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At first glance, the final standings in Group C make it seem like Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League group stage campaign was routine. They are the only team with a perfect record at the end of Matchday 6 as things stand, though Manchester City could join them on Wednesday if things go their way. They also boast a plus-nine goal differential after six games, thanks in large part to Jude Bellingham’s stellar start to life in the Spanish capital. Take one peek at the actual results, though, and it becomes very clear that Real Madrid frequently made a mess of things before eventually securing the win.

Madrid picked up just two clean sheets during the group stage and either relinquished leads or had to come from behind on several occasions during that stretch. They did both in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Union Berlin, and though there’s an easy caveat because the game would not impact their top spot finish, that was not the case when they faced Napoli earlier this fall. On Matchday 2, they conceded first, came from behind to take the lead, lost that lead, and relied on an Alex Meret own goal to secure the three points. Two matchdays later, they gave up a 2-0 lead and needed to score twice after the 80th minute to seal the deal.

The kings of the Champions League have been leaky at the back throughout the group stage, conceding seven goals in six games. It’s an average defensive record that’s in stark contrast with their elite talent and showing, and highlights the fact that their attack has been there to bail them out of trouble on just about every occasion.

With eight teams left to play on Matchday 6, Real Madrid are tied with Arsenal for the most goals scored during the group stage with 16. They also currently lead the field for shots with 114 and are second for shots on goal with 43 and expected goals with 15.13. They have done so while relying on several different goalscorers. Bellingham is the natural standout with four goals in five games but Rodrygo and Joselu each scored three goals and Vinicius had two in three games.

The most surprising thing about the team’s attacking form is that they arguably have not reached their full potential yet. They have been wasteful throughout their Champions League campaign and have put just 34.7% of their shots on target, ranking 15th in the 32-team field.

They are averaging a little bit better in La Liga at 38.1%, sliding down to fifth despite ranking in the top three in most other attacking categories. Their attacking and defensive situations vary in their domestic league, though — Real Madrid have the best goals against record in La Liga after conceding just 10 goals in 14 games but have overperformed their expected goals tally significantly. Carlo Ancelotti’s side are third in the league with 28.96 expected goals but second with 34 goals scored.

It paints an overall picture of inconsistency for Real Madrid that will be fascinating to follow as they look to overtake Girona as La Liga leaders and duke it out amongst Europe’s elites to win yet another Champions League title. Their offense-heavy approach might just be perfectly imperfect — it is already difficult for many teams to overcome, and it might actually serve as a strong starting point to improve upon either their misfiring streak or their porous defense. It also might be overly reliant on talented attackers and could be easily derailed by a cold streak or a series of injuries.

It ultimately forces the question: Is this a sustainable long term strategy or a sign that Madrid will fall short of their goals by the spring?

Source: https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/real-madrid-finish-champions-league-group-stage-with-perfect-record-despite-tactical-imperfections/

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Muhammad Azaan

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