A TOUCH OF CLASS

Real Madrid ensured that they topped Group D in the Champions League with a commanding 2-0 win thanks to goals from Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio. Carlo Ancelotti’s side were professional and turned up when they needed to maximise their chances for an easier opponent in the next round.

 

 

Inter Milan started the match brightly, Marcelo Brozovic firing a warning shot in the seventh minute on the volley just over Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar. Nicolo Barella had a half shout for a penalty soon after when he was tugged by Dani Carvajal but the contact was not enough for referee Felix Brych to point to the spot.

The Nerazzurri pressed the home side high and Carvajal was again involved in the action as he made a crucial block on Ivan Perisic’s shot from a cross. It was Real Madrid though that took the lead against the run of play thanks to a moment of sheer quality and brilliance from Toni Kroos.

 

The German midfielder received the ball from Rodrygo, took a touch to set himself up and unleashed a pinpoint shot with his weaker left foot across Samir Handanovic who was left with no chance. It was not a classic Kroos shot as he used his instep instead of the side-foot but the goal was a thing of beauty nonetheless.

The goal only encouraged Simone Inzaghi’s side to continue on the front foot. Perisic was heavily involved, combining well with Barella and Calhanoglu but the final pass would not come. Lautaro Martinez had his first notable contribution in the 23rd minute when he shot over on the turn on the volley.

Vinicius was the out ball for Real Madrid who continued to drop deep as the half progressed. Inter though were guilty of being overly enthusiastic at times, especially Denzel Dumfries who was caught out of position multiple times as Vinicius remained high and wide. It was the right-back Carvajal though that created a good chance for striker Luka Jovic as he found himself behind the Inter defense. The Spaniard played in Jovic through 1-v-1 with Handanovic but the Slovenian goalkeeper came out quickly to close down the angle.

 

 

Inter pushed but Madrid created the better chances, nearly doubling the lead twice just before the break through Rodrygo. First, Kroos played in the winger with a neat pass to the edge of the box but Rodrygo’s off-balance shot could only strike the far post of Handanovic’s goal. The Brazilian then shot wildly wide when Casemiro found him in space in the box following a corner. An even encounter in the first half but Madrid went in with their noses ahead.

Inter nearly equalised right after the restart when Calhanoglu played in Barella. The midfielder though shot over from a situation where he really should have been testing Courtois. That seemed to wake Madrid up as they had their first real spell of sustained pressure in the match.

 

 

Casemiro headed over from a corner before Jovic had two half chances from the left-hand channel. The angle was against him on both occasions though but he did well to draw a save in the second one. Luka Modric grew into the game and began to pull the strings with his brilliant passing range and Inter struggled to get out. Handanovic was called into action once again as Inter defended a set-piece very poorly and allowed Casemiro to shoot from the edge of the box but the goalkeeper got down well quickly to keep scores level.

Inzaghi responded by making a triple substitution which seemed to work well. Alexis Sanchez was immediately involved, picking up the ball near the edge of the box after Madrid gave the ball away in a dangerous area. The Chilean’s shot however was disappointingly wide.

Things then got heated between the sides as Eder Militao pushed off Barella into the side advertisement boards after the ball had run out of play. The Inter midfielder’s reacted by throwing a fist at Militao’s leg and the referee promptly showed him a red card for that. A moment of madness from the Italian whose movement in midfield had arguably been Inter’s biggest threat.

 

 

The one man advantage handed Los Blancos the bulk of possession which they used well, keeping Inter at an arm’s length and threatening Handanovic’s goal every now and then. Rodrygo continued to be a threat, keeping the Inter goalkeeper on his toes with a good volley from an acute angle.

It was substitute Marco Asensio though who secured the three points and the top spot for Ancelotti’s side, curling in a stunning shot from the left wing into the far corner off the post. The Spaniard served up a timely reminder of his technical skill and showed that Madrid’s squad is not one to be trifled with.

 

 

It was nearly three as Carvajal sneaked in past Perisic who was waiting for the ball to run out to pull it back to substitute Mariano Diaz. The striker though took too long and Handanovic was able to smother the chance. Madrid saw the game out without fuss and here are our talking points from the match.

 

KROOS KONTROL

Toni Kroos has been amongst the best midfielders in the world for about a decade now and at 31, he is showing no signs of slowing down. His goal was exceptional and even beside that, he was arguably Madrid’s best player on the field. He not only showed class on the ball but also off it, covering the left wing defensively to allow Vinicius to remain up front as an attacking outlet.

 

 

He played a delightful pass to Rodrygo just before the break as well that nearly doubled Madrid’s lead which was just one of many well-weighted through balls he played throughout the match. After Barella’s red card, Kroos dominated the ball, dictating play until he was substituted off to a standing ovation from the Bernabeu crowd.

 

THE WINGED WONDERS

They might not have got the goals on the evening but Real Madrid’s Brazilian wingers Vinicus and Rodrygo have been excellent all season and they kept the good form going on Tuesday. Vinicius was very effective at isolating defenders and beating them, leading to Inzaghi substituting off Dumfries at half time and Rodrygo’s efforts really deserved a goal.

 

Courtesy: Real Madrid/Twitter

 

No team in Europe would like to face Madrid who have talent overflowing through the brim. The pace and trickery of the pair is impossible to defend against. Vinicius has already found his shooting boots and added goals to his game and the prospect of Rodrygo doing the same is scary.

 

NO POINTS BUT INTER CAN TAKE HEART

It is little solace but Inzaghi’s Inter were impressive for most of the gamete especially until the red card. Their build up play out from the back was easy on the eyes and effective in surpassing Madrid’s press and their midfield runners were a threat continuously. Their qualification in second spot makes them a tricky opponent that group toppers would want to avoid in the next round.

The Nerazzurri might not be as dominant in the Italian league as last season but this defeat was their first in 11 matches. They have good squad depth across the pitch and just need to find the extra quality in the final third since the departure of Romelu Lukaku and the absence of Christian Eriksen.

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