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36 shots, 2 goals - Real Madrid leave shooting boots at home vs Shakhtar

Wayward finishing put a dampener on a superb Real Madrid performance against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League

Roddy Cons
Wayward finishing put a dampener on a superb Real Madrid performance against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League
Soccrates ImagesGetty

Real Madrid continued their perfect start to the 2022-23 Champions League with another victory against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabéu. In a kind group, it must be said, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have taken nine points from nine so far and already look to be through to the knockout round given the five-point lead they hold over the second-placed Ukrainians.

Carlo Ancelotti’s mixed feelings about Real Madrid performance

But Ancelotti may well have mixed feelings about his team’s latest victory. Los Blancos put in a stellar performance – rated by many as their best of the season so far – while deploying a 4-4-2 system, the first time they have ventured away from 4-3-3 this term. Rodrygo has often started on the right side of a front three but on Wednesday lined up in a central role alongside Karim Benzema, a switch which will have given Ancelotti plenty of food for thought going forward.

Rodrygo and Benzema fed off each other brilliantly and their general link-up play was superb, with Vinícius Júnior, playing off the left as always, often their final target. However, it was an attacking performance which promised so much but ultimately delivered so little. A strange thing to say, perhaps, given that both Rodrygo and Vinícius netted what proved to be decisive goals.

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos: “We should have won 7-1″

It’s hard to believe that it was only 2-1″, midfielder Toni Kroos told Movistar after the game. “We should’ve won 7-1.” You could even say the German was being slightly conservative.

Madrid fired 36 shots at the Shakhtar goal across the 90 minutes, 14 of which were on target. Visiting goalkeeper Antoliy Trubin made 12 saves in total, several of which were smart stops down low, although none were jaw-dropping.

Vinícius Junior and Karim Benzema wasteful for Real Madrid against Shakhtar

Vinícius has been Real Madrid’s standout performer this term – he’s the only player to have started every game, he’s played the most minutes and now scored seven times in 11 games in all competitions this season. His goal last night settled the match and was characteristic of the ‘new’ Vinícius, yet he was also the main culprit in front of goal; nine efforts, all from inside the box. At least a couple more should really have rippled the net. More like the ‘old’ Vinícius.

Benzema was criticised for his performance in the home draw against Osasuna, in which he missed a penalty, but looked back to somewhere near his best with his general play against Shakhtar. His finishing, though, didn’t quite match that, with eight shots leading to a grand total of zero goals. After a recent injury, perhaps the Frenchman just needs another game or two to re-discover his sharpness in front of goal.

Rodrygo player of the match versus Shakhtar

As for Rodrygo, he was awarded the player of the match award, with Ancelotti claiming after the game that “he has enough quality to play anywhere.” Some incredibly clever movement and link-up with Benzema in particular could well have cemented his place in the starting line-up for the next few matches, one of which is El Clásico.

Madrid’s pressing was very effective and enabled them to win the ball high up the pitch, while the speed of their passing and movement was superb and cut Shakhtar open time and again. Ancelotti looks to have found another effective system to use moving forward but how concerned will he have been by his team’s inability to kill off their opponents?

With so many games coming up in such a short space of time, including El Clásico on 16 October, putting games to bed early and being able to rest key players towards the end of certain games could prove vital. With that in mind, is poor finishing something Ancelotti should be worried about? Or was it just one of those nights?


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