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Real Madrid’s imbalance and attacking brilliance in El Clasico show why they are favorites in the Champions League



Real Madrid's imbalance and attacking brilliance in El Clasico show why they are favorites in the Champions League

Now that Real Madrid have climbed up the ladder in La Liga and booked a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League, there has been one question that has quietly haunted them all season: they can’t keep getting away with this, can they?

Despite their dominance all season, Real Madrid always looked a little unbalanced during the biggest games, bending and on the verge of breaking. That was the case on Sunday in the latest edition of El Clasico, when they twice fell to Barcelona and let the visitors dictate the pace while having little to no answer to teenage sensation Lamine Yamal. Things were similar on Wednesday as they seemed to merely absorb the pressure as Manchester City put 33 shots to their nine in the Champions League quarter-finals.

And yet on both occasions it was Real Madrid who came out on top. At the end of a season-defining week, they emerged as the oddsmakers favorites to win the Champions League after a penalty shootout against City and took an eleven-point lead in La Liga after a 3–2 win over Barcelona. It seems like they can – and will – continue to get away with it, thanks in large part to an attacking unit that gets them out of trouble time and time again.

This week alone was a microcosm of Real Madrid’s season as it forced them to showcase their range. Their ability to counter City’s attack, and the fact they lead La Liga with just 22 goals conceded this season, demonstrate their defensive capabilities. Even on days when the backline plays a big role, Real Madrid’s star-studded attack feels like the centerpiece of the team’s strategy – and the results speak for themselves.

Against City, it felt like the reason they were able to keep the reigning Champions League winners at bay was because they could start their attack at the drop of a hat. That’s ultimately why they started a front line with Jude Bellingham, Vinicuius Junior and Rodrygo, even as they prioritized their defensive strengths, eventually taking the lead after just twelve minutes. The trio took advantage when play was slightly disrupted, giving them the go-ahead and just enough of a base to stay alive – and win the tie.

The game situation was different against Barcelona, ​​who outwitted Real Madrid’s defense and took the lead twice. Eduardo Camavinga seemed to struggle with Yamal, while goalkeeper Andriy Lunin mismanaged the situation before Fermin Lopez’s goal. At that point, the attack was carried out in the expected manner: Vinicius Junior recorded a goal and assist, while Bellingham scored the match winner in the 91st minute.

Although Barcelona marginally outscored Real Madrid with the teams both shooting 14 times, the La Liga leaders ultimately outscored the opposition due to their offense. They shot eight times on target to Barcelona’s six, outscoring them by 2.41 to 1.33 in terms of expected goals.

There are questions about whether or not it is a sustainable strategy as Real Madrid have exceeded their expected goals by around seven goals in La Liga and three in the Champions League. That said, Real Madrid appear to be leaning on an attack-first mentality with the expected arrival of Kylian Mbappe next season.

It seems like the sense of imbalance could be Real Madrid’s signature look for the foreseeable future, but maybe that’s by design. An all-star team like the one they are trying to build will be a showcase for attacking talent and while it may not be the most practical strategy for success, Real Madrid could prove they can find an equally effective strategy. way to the top – and a flashier approach to get there, as they are one of the few clubs that can actually make it happen.