Real Madrid Shines Again in Champions League Win at Braga

Real Madrid Shines Again in Champions League Win at Braga

Real Madrid further solidified their position at the top of Group C with a tense 2-1 victory at Estadio Municipal against Braga in the Champions League, maintaining their flawless record in this year’s competition.

Rodrygo swiftly silenced his critics with a first-half goal, giving the Brazilian forward a goal and providing the visitors with a one-goal advantage. After 60 minutes, Jude Bellingham continued his impressive streak of attacking contributions, strengthening Carlo Ancelotti’s team’s lead.

Os Arcebispos, however, managed to close the gap when winger Alvaro Djalo found the net for the hosts. Despite a late surge of pressure, the Primeira Liga side left the contest empty-handed.

Real Madrid has secured a perfect nine points from their first three group-stage matches and is aware that a victory in the return fixture at the Bernabeu on November 8 will be enough to guarantee their spot in the knockout phase.

Following Napoli’s narrow victory over Champions League newcomers Union Berlin, Braga now trails second place by three points at the halfway point of Group C. The Portuguese side is scheduled to face Napoli in the next fixture during gameweek six.

Meeting the Portuguese outfit for the first time in the club’s history, Real Madrid started the game without the exhilarating style they are known for, noticeably missing the focal point in their attack that Karim Benzema provided for so many years before his summer departure.

Ancelotti has had to adjust his tactics following the loss of the Frenchman, and it was the makeshift forward line of Los Blancos that combined to give the visitors the lead in Northern Portugal. Center-back Nacho Fernandez played a magnificent long-range pass to initiate the attack.

Vinicius Jr received the pass, sped past Serdar Saatci on the wing, and delivered a low cross to Rodrygo, who managed to get ahead of Sikou Niakate and poke the ball home, opening his account in this year’s Champions League.

With target man Joselu absent from the XI, Madrid adopted a patient approach in their buildup before launching long balls, seeking to exploit Braga’s high defensive line.

Eduardo Camavinga found ample space in the midfield, and one of his surging runs led to a through ball to Vinicius, who set up Rodrygo for a tap-in. However, Vinicius was offside in the initial phase of play.

After a relatively quiet first half in terms of clear-cut chances, Estadio Municipal de Braga became Bellingham’s stage in the second period. The England international added his third Champions League goal of the season in his characteristic elegant style.

Vinicius received the ball on the left flank, feigned a shot to beat his defender on the byline, and then passed the ball to Bellingham. The former Borussia Dortmund player curled the ball into the bottom-right corner, eluding the outstretched Matheus in Braga’s goal.

Bellingham celebrated in front of the traveling Madrid supporters, and it felt like the match and the points were secured. However, Braga made a comeback just two minutes later.

Swedish full-back Josafat Mendes raced down the wing from the right and delivered a looping cross to target man Simon Banza. Banza did an excellent job controlling the ball and found the run of Alvaro Djalo, who placed his shot past Kepa Arrizabalaga at the near post.

After finding the back of the net, the Primeira Liga side significantly grew into the game and had opportunities to equalize. Captain Ricardo Horta’s close-range shot was punched away by the Los Blancos keeper, with the ball fortunately going out for a corner.

The loss in front of their home crowd ended Braga’s five-game winning streak in all competitions. However, a visit to Gil Vicente on Saturday afternoon offers Jorge’s side an opportunity to bounce back from the disappointment in continental competition.

Real Madrid is now unbeaten in six matches in La Liga and the Champions League, with a highly-anticipated El Clasico clash against Barcelona, their title rivals, up next at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys this weekend.