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Real Madrid – The Impenetrable Battleship

 

“Warship” named Real Madrid is being “armored” by the Italian maestro – Carlo Ancelotti: they have conceded only 9 goals, the fewest in La Liga after 15 rounds, despite the absence of both the number 1 goalkeeper Courtois and the number 1 defender Militao. Since El Clasico in round 11, Real has only conceded one goal in the victory against Valencia with a score of 5-1.

Ancelotti left Milan in 2009 and wandered across Europe since then, but the Italian essence is still distinctive through his pronunciation (calling Xavi “Javi” or Vinicius “Vinichus”) and especially in his football style: if you don’t concede, we have a great chance to win. It’s a message he has reiterated many times since the beginning of this season and is becoming a reinforced motto from the success of the arch-rival Barca in the previous season (2022/23) with the astounding certainty of Ter Stegen’s Wall (20 goals conceded, far ahead of the second least conceded team Atletico – 33 goals).

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The Italian strategist has not only patched up the two major defensive holes named Courtois and Militao but also transformed the defense that conceded 36 goals last season into a solid “fortress” through highly commendable efforts. Especially, he achieved this with two different goalkeepers (Kepa, with 7 goals conceded in 10 matches, and Lunin with 2 goals conceded in 5 matches), while the defense has always undergone personnel changes for various reasons.

Only Rudiger is almost always present (1660 minutes this season, also the most played in the team), while Alaba and Mendy are injured, and Nacho is suspended, forcing Ancelotti to make many adjustments, even pulling Tchouameni back to play center-back in the 4-0 victory against Osasuna.

Real Madrid: Carlo Ancelotti says he will rely on Andriy Lunin in Thibaut  Courtois' absence - BBC Sport
Carlo Ancelotti says he will rely on Andriy Lunin in Thibaut Courtois’ absence

Goalkeeper Lunin even kept his gloves clean in the latest 2-0 victory against Granada, when its main task was to keep warm on a cold night in Madrid. That night, Granada couldn’t even shoot, despite having a formidable attack with Bryan Zaragoza and the Albanian star – Myrto Uzuni (5 goals this season and 23 goals last season). Against Rayo Vallecano, the same thing happened with Kepa, even though Real was held to a 0-0 draw.

 

Real Madrid also has the highest clean sheet rate With 8 clean sheets in 15 matches this season, Real is the only team with a clean sheet rate above 50% and the highest in La Liga. Barcelona is not the team with the second least goals conceded but is the second-highest in clean sheets: 7 matches. Three teams have kept clean sheets in 6 matches: Rayo Vallecano, Athletic Bilbao, and Real Betis.

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