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Champions League group stage recap: Real Madrid's perfect progression

Fourteen-time champions Real Madrid were in ominous form as they won all six of their Group C matches.

Joselu (left) and Jude Bellingham scored three and four goals respectively in the group stage
Joselu (left) and Jude Bellingham scored three and four goals respectively in the group stage Getty Images

Real Madrid were in an unforgiving mood as they eased through Group C, winning all six of their matches and scoring 16 goals in the process to finish top.

Round of 16: Leipzig vs Real Madrid

Campaign so far

Highlights: Napoli 2-3 Real Madrid

Group C winners: W6 D0 L0 F16 A7
Top scorer: Jude Bellingham (4)

20/09: Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin – Bellingham 90+4
03/10: Napoli 2-3 Real Madrid – Østigård 19, Zieliński 54(p); Vinícius Júnior 27, Bellingham 34, Meret 78(og)
24/10
: Braga 1-2 Real Madrid – Álvaro Djaló 63; Rodrygo 16, Bellingham 61
08/11
: Real Madrid 3-0 Braga – Brahim Díaz 27, Vinícius Júnior 58, Rodrygo 61
29/11
: Real Madrid 4-2 Napoli – Rodrygo 11, Bellingham 22, Paz 84, Joselu 90+4; Simeone 9, Zambo Anguissa 47
12/12
: Union Berlin 2-3 Real Madrid – Volland 45+1, Král 85; Joselu 61 72, Ceballos 89

Campaign in ten words: Serene progress as Bellingham ascent adds to Ancelotti's attacking options.

UEFA.com reporter's view

Madrid are huge fun to watch, and report on. The statistics suggest they romped to qualification after only four matches. In actual fact, the nerves were shredded and the senses nicely overloaded. A dramatic stoppage-time win against Union Berlin (through Jude Bellingham); a frenzy of beautiful, elite football, with five goals shared and three points in Naples; a tussle in Braga, then moving sweetly through the gears in the return match at the Santiago Bernabéu. Only Antonio Rüdiger played every minute from Matchday 1 through Matchday 4, Bellingham scored on every appearance – and the rest of Europe thought: 'Madrid are on the move again!'

How do Real Madrid play?

Vivaciously. If you had to state Los Blancos' current predominant formation numerically it would be 4-4-2. Ancelotti has a treasury of midfield talent and, until injuries temporarily intervened, wanted to field as much of it as feasible. But rather than viewing four in midfield as a defensive reinforcement (Madrid have largely used 4-3-3 since Ancelotti returned), the key is that Bellingham, alternating between left side without the ball and the tip of the midfield diamond when Madrid are in possession can attack the box – and score. They are arguably the best counter/transition team in Europe.

Perfect Champions League Group stage records

Fantasy star performers

Jude Bellingham – 50 points
Rodrygo – 33 points
Nacho – 24 points

Key stats

• Real Madrid have won their opening match in 15 of their last 17 Champions League group stage campaigns.

• The Merengues have won their last eight Champions League matches away from home against Italian teams.

• In the Matchday 3 victory at Braga, Jude Bellingham became only the second player to score in his first three Champions League games for Real Madrid after Christian Karembeu in 1998. See Bellingham's other competition records here.

Squad changes

In: none
Out: none

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