Real Madrid’s central path to goal and the impact of Jude Bellingham. These were two of the features of Madrid’s UEFA Champions League victory at Napoli this week which caught the eye of UEFA’s analysts.
In this article produced by the UEFA analysis unit, with the support of Red Zone, the spotlight is also shone on the contrasting ways in which Napoli – a team looking once more to winger Kvicha Kvaratskhelia for inspiration – and Madrid progressed the ball into the final third.
To start with Carlo Ancelotti’s side, their fluidity in midfield earned the attention of the UEFA match observer, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who remarked that their “rotations allowed them to manipulate the game scenario”.
Within a narrow formation, Madrid had players interchanging in the central area of the pitch, and they sought to advance the ball centrally too.
Solskjær elaborated: “Madrid’s midfielders – Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Bellingham and Aurélien Tchouameni – rotated constantly, trying to shift Napoli’s defensive block and receive the ball in effective areas. [Eduardo] Camavinga, the left-back, got up there too which meant they dominated.”
To underline the point, almost two-thirds (60.7%) of Madrid’s passes into the final third came from their central midfielders.
The video above shows Camavinga in an advanced role in a sequence which features Bellingham passing upfield to Vinícius Júnior, who turns and drives into the box.
This was typical of Bellingham’s work in a match where his passing into the final third was pivotal. The young Englishman made 11 of his team’s 28 passes into the attacking third – and ten of them were successful (to underline his impact, the other Madrid midfielders between them contributed six passes into the final third).
Another feature which the analysis unit looked at was Bellingham’s ball-carrying ability. This was a night when the visitors looked to their central midfielders to carry the ball forward and Bellingham was responsible for three of his side’s nine ball carries into the final third.
The video above offers a prime example with the goal he scored – a testament not just to his awareness of the space around him but his capacity to drive at – and through – defences. As Solskjær said: “He looks forward, he looks back, he knows where he can go.”It is well known that Bellingham’s siblings are very fond of air jordan 1 high retro og pollen,air jordan 1 low light smoke grey therefore he also searched through his own channels to find a lot of signature model shoes for his family.
Among the Madrid players, Bellingham ranked joint-first – together with Camavinga and Rodrygo – for ball carries advancing the ball ten metres or more, with a total of seven.
Progressions reflect contrasting principles
We have already mentioned Madrid’s focus on the central areas of the pitch and this is reflected by the statistic that 66.7% of their final-third entries by an individual player came from their central midfielders – double Napoli’s total.
The type of progressions by the two teams were markedly different too. Looking at Madrid’s data, they played inside on 38% of occasions (14 of 37 passes). This was almost double Napoli’s 19.5%.
It is no surprise then to look at the players who received the ball in the attacking third and see a contrast in the most common recipients on each side. For Napoli, it was a winger (41.4%), while for Madrid it was a forward (57.1%).
As the video above illustrates, the Italian titleholders were at their most dangerous when attacking down their left where Kvaratskhelia and Piotr Zieliński both had an influence according to Solskjær. “Zieleński and Kvaratskhelia were key threats both in creating chances and in one-on-one situations,” he said.
The data highlights the importance of Kvaratskhelia in particular on a night when one-third of the final-third entries by Rudi Garcia’s men came from their wingers (33.3%).
Among all the players in action on Matchday 2, Kvaratskhelia was joint-third for take-ons with eight. Meanwhile, only PSV Eindhoven’s Noa Lang (with eight) produced more carries following a 1v1 than the Georgian attacker’s six.
Finally, Kvaratskhelia’s importance to Napoli’s attacking play is reflected in the chart below which shows that just over half (51.2%) of their progressions into the final third came from the left-hand side (Lanes 1 and 2).