Camavinga 'graduates' in mature Real Madrid European triumph
Real Madrid strangled Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu with a mature performance on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals and Eduardo Camavinga was at the heart of it.
The 20-year-old has not held down a starting spot in midfield for Madrid since his arrival from Rennes in 2021, but this was his strongest case yet.
Camavinga was a strong backboard for Madrid's pass masters Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to play from -- and the Frenchman proved as adroit as the team's elder statesmen on the ball too.
His French compatriot Aurelien Tchouameni has been Carlo Ancelotti's regular pick in the holding role once occupied by Casemiro, but Camavinga showed his quality in the 1-0 last 16, second leg win over Liverpool.
The midfielder's eye for a forward pass and ability on the ball meant he could step forward into attacking areas, with Kroos sitting deeper to cover for him.
"Camavinga graduates and looks set for the Clasico XI," ran a headline in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo on Thursday.
Occasionally used at left-back this season by Ancelotti, a position in which he has delivered but is not his favoured spot, Camavinga will feel vindicated by his midfield display.
In defence against Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday he misjudged a ball which led to Joselu scoring against the champions, but more than made amends against Liverpool.
"He is in a very good moment, and he is taking advantage of it," said Ancelotti.
"He feels good playing with Kroos and Modric, manages the position well, and when Kroos sits deeper he has the chance to go forward more."
Karim Benzema scored Madrid's only goal, which added to their 6-2 aggregate victory, and although it was set up by Vinicius Junior, a clever pass by Camavinga was key.
"I told him a few small details, like how I know that the two Liverpool centre-backs play... There's space in the middle, and that's how we scored the goal," Benzema told Movistar.
"He's a young player but he's got a lot of talent and we are happy with him."
Camavinga almost scored himself with a long-range effort which Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker tipped onto the crossbar.
It would have been the cherry on the cake for the midfielder, but there will be plenty more opportunities for him down the line.
Ancelotti described Camavinga as "untouchable" in January, and although it must be taken with a pinch of salt given the Italian's wont to label a lot of players with the same tag, with more performances on this level it will soon be true.