Real Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao: match review

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A brace from Rodrygo ensured Real Madrid comfortably steered past Athletic Bilbao in a 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, further asserting their dominance on the league table.

Carlo Ancelotti fielded a 4-3-1-2 formation which transitioned into a 4-4-2 system during the game, with Jude Bellingham returning to the lineup after being suspended for the previous two league fixtures.

Rodrygo started on the left side, as Vinicius Junior was suspended for this match, and showed how effective he can be on that particular flank, as he gave the Merengues a lead just 8 minutes into the game after putting a curler from outside the box, into the back of the net.

Federico Valverde also had a crack from distance in the 38th minute when he forced Julen Agirrezabala into making a save.

Just on the brink of halftime, Aurelien Tchouameni’s header was inches away from ending up in the net. Athletic Bilbao would have breathed a sigh of relief because the game could have been over in the first half if that ball had gone into the net.

Three minutes into the second half, Rodrygo put a fine through ball in for Brahim Díaz who hit the post after taking a thunderous shot.

Andriy Lunin also made some pivotal saves during the game, one of which came in the 51st minute when he saved Iñaki Williams’ volley from close range, delivered from a corner.

Jude Bellingham on his return was involved in the second goal, as the Englishman found Rodrygo unmarked on the left flank, who easily went past the only defender who tried to stop him and put the ball past the keeper.

The Brazilian could not have asked for a better time to find his shooting boots as he scored a brace and also scored a goal during international duty.

In stoppage time, an event that many fans were waiting for took place, as Eder Militao came on in stoppage time and was welcomed by the fans making his return to the pitch after recovering from an ACL injury.

For the Merengues, it was a near-perfect performance and the scoreline could have been a bigger one for the home side if some of the chances ended up in the back of the net. Bilbao did not trouble the defense much and when they did, Lunin was up to the task.

Carlo Ancelotti should not be sweating over a not-so-memorable Jude Bellingham performance. The Englishman had a tough international break, playing 157 out of a possible 180 minutes over the two games.

Real Madrid have 8 days until their Champions League tie, and Bellingham will have ample time to get back to his best in this break.

This win takes Real Madrid 8 points clear of FC Barcelona with 75 points and comfortably sit at the top of the table.

Next up, Ancelotti’s men will prepare for their sternest challenge yet, which is perhaps their biggest match of the season as European giants will battle it out against Manchester City in the 1st leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at home on 9th April.

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