Football Features

“He does the right thing in the right place at the right time” – Winners and Losers as Real Madrid put Inter on the brink

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:31, 25 November 2020 | Updated: 9:34, 30 March 2021

In a one-sided night of football, Real Madrid dominated and beat Inter Milan in the Champions League.

The win puts Los Blancos up into second in the group on seven points. Zinedine Zidane’s men can now qualify for the knockout rounds by avoiding defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk next week. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Rodrygo

Mere seconds separated Rodrygo’s appearance off the Real Madrid bench and his side’s second goal, scored with Rodrygo’s first touch of the ball. The Brazilian beat Inter in the last gameweek, coming off the bench to score Madrid’s 80th minute winner in that 3-2 showing.

Today he once again came on in the second-half and this time he showed up to smoothly smack home Lucas Vázquez’s wonderful back-post cross. That made it 0-2 and completely cut off Inter’s intense attempts at a comeback, reducing the final half hour to a procession.

He’s not as complete a prospect as some others out there in the world, but Rodrygo just seems to have the ability to do the right thing in the right place at the right time. The boy has got “it,” whatever “it” is.

Loser: Arturo Vidal

A lot of Inter players were poor, but none could match the lunacy of Arturo Vidal. The Chilean is an absolute warrior whose aggression and intensity is highly valued by Antonio Conte, but you wonder why when you watch performances like this.

Vidal was a non-entity in midfield. He failed to make a single tackle or interception, completing just 10 of his 12 chances. He wasn’t a threat in the air, he didn’t cover his defence. In short he did nothing except protest a (correct) no-call on a penalty that the referee, who had just booked him five seconds earlier, issued a second yellow to send him off and condemn Inter to playing with 10 men.

A 33-year-old with a mohawk getting sent off for verbally abusing the referee. What an embarrassment. Have a look in the mirror, Arturo.

Winner: Real Madrid

After getting slapped by Shakhtar and fluking a draw against Gladbach, it would have been easy to write Real Madrid off. But Los Blancos relish a big game and they have showed up superbly against Inter Milan and picked up two valuable wins that has all but assured their passage through to the round of 16.

Loser: Antonio Conte

Inter have two points. Two. Points. That is utterly inexcuseable from a side as loaded with talent as they are and the blame for that has to go to Antonio Conte. He’s always struggled with the Champions League but before he’s at least made it to end of the group stages before failing to qualify. This time he’s just straight-up sucked the whole time. Oh dear.

Winner: Nacho

A lot of Real Madrid players performed well against Inter, but most of them were the established names who have been there and done that in Europe. So fair enough, but that’s not new. What is new was Nacho at the heart of defence putting in a masterful performance.

Real Madrid without Sergio Ramos tend to be brittle and breakable, yet the Madrid captain didn’t play tonight and Madrid didn’t miss him either as a defender or even as a leader. Nacho put in a game-high 5 tackles and a team-high 2 interceptions. Whenever the ball went into the Madrid box, Nacho was there to get it clear.

Loser: Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian striker was absent for Inter’s first match against Real Madrid this season, and Inter only narrowly lost. So the Belgian came into tonight out to prove a point but instead he was absolutely shut down by the Los Blancos backline.

Whether it was Nacho, Raphael Varane or Ferland Mendy, Lukaku simply could not get the better of any of them in a 1v1 situation of which his midfield provided him with several. Antonio Conte even hooked Lautaro Martinez at half-time to give Lukaku more focus and the Belgian still couldn’t deliver.