Defending champions Real Madrid traveled to the Red Bull Arena Leipzig for their UEFA Champions League matchday five clash against Group F rivals RB Leipzig on Tuesday night (October 25).
Los Blancos only needed a point to progress into the last 16 as Group F winners. The hosts, however, had other ideas, with them inflicting a 3-2 defeat upon the Whites in front of their fans. Josko Gvardiol, Christopher Nkunku, and Timo Werner each scored a goal for RB Leipzig, while Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo found the back of the net for Real Madrid.
As has become the norm under Marco Rose, Leipzig started the game full of intensity and desire. It took them only two minutes to string their first move together, with Emil Forsberg laying the ball off in a dangerous area down the left flank. Los Merengues somehow got to the end of the delivery and cleared the danger.
In the 13th minute, Leipzig won a corner and made full use of their physicality to punish the visitors. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made an instinctive initial save, but had no answer for Gvardiol’s superb follow up. Three minutes after scoring the opener, Leipzig came close to doubling their advantage. Nkunku seared down the left channel and attempted an ambitious shot, which, to his credit, only narrowly missed Courtois’ goal and crashed against the sidenetting.
In the 18th minute, Nkunku got the goal he was looking for, with him dispatching a thunderous shot from inside the box to leave Courtois dead in the water. It took 36 minutes for Real Madrid to create their first real opening of the match. Vinicius Junior played Rodrygo through on goal with a pass down the left flank. Leipzig stopper Janick Blaswich quickly came off his line to narrow the angle and block Rodrygo’s shot.
Just before the break, Madrid pulled one back, with Vinicius Junior applying a headed finish to Marco Asensio’s cross into the area. Despite getting a morale boosting goal right before half-time, Los Merengues could not build on it in the second 45. Leipzig continued to threaten the visitors with their pace, and could have been in front had Werner kept his effort on target n the 70th minute.
In the 80th minute, goalscorer Vinicius Junior had the opportunity to equalize for his team, but his effort, from close range, drifted wide of the mark. A minute after Vinicius’ miss, Werner doubled Leipzig’s lead, applying the finishing touch at the far post.
In injury time, Rodrygo converted a penalty for Real Madrid, but it ultimately served as a consolation strike.
The defeat marked Real Madrid’s first in the 2022-23 campaign, ending their 16-game unbeaten run. Here are three Madrid players who disappointed and two who shone in their defeat to Leipzig:
Underperformed: Eder Militao
Eder Militao, who has been one of Madrid’s most reliable players in the last couple of seasons, was markedly below his best on matchday five. He completely lost Werner for Leipzig’s third goal, was weak in duels, and his long ball distribution also left a lot to be desired.
The Brazilian lost five of seven duels, lost possession 12 times, and misplaced a cross and two long balls on Tuesday. He also committed a foul and was dribbled past once.
Despite his miss in the first half, Rodrygo was arguably the brightest member of Los Blancos’ often unimagintive attack. He carried the ball well, worked hard, and won and converted a spot kick in stoppage time. He sent Blaswich the wrong way to find the back of Leipzig’s net, taking Madrid to an acceptable 3-2 scoreline.
On Tuesday, Rodrygo made a key pass, completed two dribbles, won four ground duels, and delivered two accurate long balls. He also drew two fouls and completed 98% of his ground passes (49 accurate passes).
Underperformed: Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger was deployed as a left-back against RB Leipzig; and it’s safe to say that the experiment was not successful. He struggled to deal with the pace of Leipzig’s attack and did not look confident enough to push further up the pitch. With him failing to break his shackles, it was harder for Vinicius Junior to keep the left flank mobile.
On Tuesday, Rudiger misplaced two long balls, lost possession five times, and made only one interception. He neither recorded a key pass nor attempted a dribble.
Performed: Aurelien Tchouameni
Aurelien Tchouameni was arguably the brightest Real Madrid player on the Leipzig pitch on Tuesday. He circulated the ball well, held his ground in duels, and seemed comfortable while taking the ball forward.
The French midfielder played 68 accurate passes (94.4% accuracy), attempted a team-high five tackles, and won nine of 14 duels. He also completed a dribble, performed a clearance, and drew a foul.
Underperformed: Lucas Vazquez
Lucas Vazquez looked a shadow of his best self on Tuesday. He failed to put dangerous crosses into the area and was inadept at keeping Leipzig’s attacks at bay as well. As a result, many of Leipzig’s attacks came from their left flank.
In Germany, Vazquez lost two of four ground duels, misplaced all three of his attempted crosses, and was dribbled past once. He also committed a silly challenge on Gvardiol early in the second half, which deservedly earned him a yellow card.