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Leipzig Won the Audience's Hearts and Real Secured a Place in the UCL Quarter-Finals. What Did We See in Madrid?

Real Madrid drew 1-1 at home with Leipzig. Thanks to their victory in the first leg, the Madrid team progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Carlo Ancelotti's Strange Decisions

Unexpectedly, Rodrigo did not start in the lineup. Vinicius was accompanied by Federico Valverde and a false nine, Jude Bellingham. Because of this, Real didn't even attempt high pressing, calmly allowing the visitors to build positional attacks. Perhaps Ancelotti wanted to deprive RB of the opportunity to play on fast counterattacks. Still, the fact that Madrid didn't concede in the first half was luck.

In the second half, the strangeness continued: Real first switched from a 4-3-3 to a defensive 4-4-2, conceded, and then returned to their basic setup after substitutions. The purpose of this maneuver remains a mystery.

Leipzig's Attack: Spectacular but Ineffective

Taking advantage of the opportunity to attack positionally, the Germans showcased themselves beautifully. Xavier Schlager dropped deep to play in the central zone, full-backs pushed high up the flanks, and Simons and Olmo drifted freely from the sides toward the center. The Dutchman and the Spaniard acted as Raumdeuters, roaming around the opponent's third in search of space and freeing up space on the flanks for David Raum and Benjamin Henrichs. As a result, something resembling a 3-5-2 emerged, where an incredibly versatile midfield overloaded Real's zonal defensive midfield and constantly posed a threat. The only goal came from Raum's cross, which Valverde failed to cover, having moved to secure the central zone.

Xavier Schlager - the Unnoticed Hero

The Austrian showed a fantastic work rate. When Leipzig confidently pressed (perhaps they should have done it more often), he chased the opposing anchor and covered Christopher Nkunku. When the Germans retreated deeper, depending on the ball's location, he covered either Bellingham or Valverde. He dropped as the third defender in positional plays and helped advance the ball. Additionally, he covered for Amadou Haidara, thwarted several Real counterattacks, and occasionally joined the attack himself – it was precisely him whom Valverde was distracted by during the goal moment.

Published by Patrick Jane