After his move to Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund this summer, Jude Bellingham continues to establish himself as one of the top midfielders in the world after a stoppage-time winner saw Los Blancos eke past Union Berlin to kick off Champions League play on Wednesday, 1-0. This season, Real Madrid have scored 11 goals in all competitions, and Bellingham has scored or assisted seven of them. It's an impressive return for any player, but even more so for someone who has been more of a box-to-box midfielder before the move to Madrid.
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Karim Benzema's move to Saudi Arabia and Vinicius Junior's injury have pushed Bellingham into a more attack-minded role, and he has thrived. It may not be sustainable for 60% of Bellingham's shots on target to turn into goals, but Carlo Ancelotti will certainly enjoy the ride because, without Bellingham's magic, Real Madrid could potentially look at a match where they took 32 shots, possibly seeing them drop points.
Here's the goal:
Union Berlin couldn't get a foot on the ball from start to finish, only taking four shots and putting zero on target, a credit to a Real Madrid defense that has also struggled without injured goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Eder Militão. But Bellingham has been able to mask most issues.
One thing may become a major problem for Real Madrid if Bellingham's scoring does cool off anytime soon is the performance of Joselu. Getting into good positions, he accounted for 11 of Real Madrid's shots but only put three on target. With an xG of 1.02, Joselu had the second-highest total on the team behind Bellingham's 1.05 but wasn't able to make his chances count. Last season, Joselu was excellent with Espanyol, but the expectations and pressure at Real Madrid are very different.
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Real Madrid usually find a way in the Champions League, and this match was no different. Even with a poor performance at home to open things, Los Blancos start off their UCL campaign with all three points, making it six wins in six matches to open the season. If they can keep this up when Vini Jr. returns, there's no reason to count Los Blancos out of the contenders for another Champions League title.