Saturday September 30, 2023

Bellingham ready for ‘real’ Madrid debut in CL

September 20, 2023

BARCELONA: Jude Bellingham scored for Real Madrid on his debut, and in four of the five matches which have followed, in a superb start to life in the Spanish capital for the former Birmingham boy.

The England midfielder has five goals in five games in La Liga, taking the Spanish top flight by storm after his 103 million euro ($110 million) move from Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Real Madrid boast a 100 percent record from their opening raft of domestic games, but their season begins in earnest with the start of the Champions League this week.

Bellingham, 20, is set to make his ´second´ debut for Los Blancos against Union Berlin on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu, in the competition they value above all others.

The record 14-time European champions were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City in the second leg of last season´s semi-final, 5-1 on aggregate, with Bellingham´s purchase in part a response to that stinging defeat.

Madrid have started reducing minutes for their veteran players in midfield -- Luka Modric and Toni Kroos -- while allowing Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Fede Valverde more opportunities.

Bellingham adds to the tougher core Madrid sport this season, shorn of Ballon d´Or winner Karim Benzema, who departed for a new adventure in Saudi Arabian football in the summer.

Facing a Bundesliga side in Europe, Bellingham should feel comfortable -- although it has become clear that he has already made himself at home.

In his first appearance at the hallowed Bernabeu the England international nearly blew the stadium´s new roof off with a last gasp 95th minute strike to earn Madrid a narrow win over Getafe in a derby on September 2.

Wearing the No 5 on his back in tribute to Zinedine Zidane, Bellingham has quickly become a fan favourite at Madrid. Celebrating his goals with his arms open wide, as if to share his joy with the supporters, they have instantly taken to him in a way which never happened with Welsh winger Gareth Bale.