Jude Bellingham appeared to have a deep understanding. He had just scored his first goal in a major rivalry match, a spectacular strike reminiscent of Roy of the Rovers or Hot-Shot Hamish, powering the ball into the net from 28 yards away. However, he did not celebrate or show his usual excitement. Instead, he tugged at the Real Madrid badge on his shirt, perhaps expressing some frustration. This was a notable absence from the usual ritual performed at the Cathedral, a place of worship for Maradona and others. Despite having already played in 11 matches, this one was different and there was no greater stage for him to shine on. As absurd as it may seem, his job was not yet complete.
Not at the moment, but it could happen in the future. There is always room for improvement, even when time is running out. If Madrid’s supporters had missed the previous celebration due to Bellingham’s impressive performance, there would be another opportunity to do it better, and he would strive to make it happen. The same goes for Antonio Rüdiger.
During his first game against Barcelona, Bellingham scored a goal that tied the game 1-1 in the 68th minute of the Saturday afternoon clásico. On the Madrid bench, Nacho Fernández’s expression showed surprise and amazement. In the 92nd minute, Bellingham scored the winning goal and Nacho celebrated by jumping out of his seat while his teammates chased after the Englishman. Bellingham raised his arms in acknowledgement of his success. Rüdiger cheered him on, shouting “Again, again, again. Do it again for them.” After they finished celebrating, Bellingham did it again, securing the victory and putting them at the top of the standings.
Standing in front of the Montjuïc stand, there he was once more: part Gladiator, part Christ the Redeemer. And if that sounds ridiculous, it is because it is. All of it is. “I’ve just phoned home,” Bellingham said afterwards. “It was hard to hear them with all the noise, but there was a bit of emotion thinking about all the times I watched this game on the sofa with my brother, my parents. I said it was my turn to experience it, to make an impression.”
Montjuïc has not witnessed an English performance of this caliber since the days when Sally Gunnell was competing for a gold medal. This type of event may never have happened before. Gary Lineker managed to score three goals against Real Madrid. David Beckham’s first clásico match turned him into a hero. Steve McManaman also scored at Camp Nou, during a European Cup semi-final. Laurie Cunningham received a standing ovation from Barcelona’s fans. Even Michael Owen was able to score in a clasico match, with Barcelona being defeated at the Bernabéu. But this? This was truly exceptional and continues to be so.
The famous competition known as the clásico has taken on many forms over the years, but it has never been compared to the Beatles versus the Rolling Stones. In this instance, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood were present in the VIP box, while Barcelona sported the Stones’ iconic tongue logo on their jerseys – a limited edition item that can be purchased for €399 (£348), or €2,999 (£2,620) for a signed version by both the men’s and women’s teams. Facing them was a figure who had the entire Bernabéu stadium singing along to “Hey Jude”. Some dubbed it the “rock’n’roll clásico” or the ultimate battle of the bands. As a gesture, the match was also a tribute to the music industry, with this writer struggling not to join in and ignoring a long list of song titles that had been prepared specifically for this occasion. Ultimately, the writer gave up on trying to “get off of my cloud.”
“Stones 1, Beatles 2” said the headline in AS. “Jude sticks out his tongue,” said the front of Marca. Barcelona can’t get no satisfaction, said just about everyone else. Singing puns were everywhere; he had provided the “music and the lyrics” and won the game “a cappella,” whatever that’s supposed to mean; they had “danced to Bellingham’s beat”. “The Beatles have always been our favourite group,” declared Real Madrid’s X account. The player posted a cartoon of him, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni crossing Abbey Road.
The front page of AS declared Lord Bellingham. However, elsewhere he was referred to as Sir Bellingham, “the entire British Empire”, and a dictator imposing his will, which were all negative descriptions. He was also seen as Madrid’s satanic majesty and their Mr Wolf, rescuing them once again. This highlights the fact that this is not just one game, but rather all games. Lord Bellingham’s performance in this game was particularly impressive as no Madrid player had scored two goals in their first visit to Barcelona since 1947. Most people agree that he is currently in the best form of any footballer in the world, and some may even hold this belief at Barcelona, although they may not openly express it.
Bellingham stated that everything is going well.
Despite facing a tough opponent in Gavi, who he shared mutual admiration with, this was not an easy game for Bellingham. He confessed that neither he nor his teammates were at their best, but he managed to score an incredible equalizer from outside the area, something he had been working on. Despite the intense emotions, Bellingham loves making comebacks and it showed in his late winning goal in the 91st minute. Cameras caught Pedri, who was injured, commenting on Bellingham’s luck, but the truth is that this has happened many times before and is no longer just luck. Bellingham has scored late winners in previous games against Union Berlin and Getafe.
Bellingham has thoroughly examined these actions. The young player who previously wore the number 22 at Birmingham, representing a combination of a number 4, 8, and 10, now wears the number 5 and has taken on the role of a false 9 in the absence of Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé. Ancelotti has shown him videos of his successful moments at Dortmund when he was closest to the goal, but even he is surprised by how well he has adapted. This past Saturday, Ancelotti confidently stated that Bellingham can easily score 20 or 25 goals this season, although this may now seem like an underestimated prediction. Bellingham has already scored 10 goals in 10 league games and one goal in each of his three Champions League games, which is only one goal short of his total from last year. Luka Modric expressed his joy by saying, “Even he didn’t expect to score so many goals.”
He is crucial to their success. Bellingham has contributed 13 out of Madrid’s 29 total goals, leading to seven of their 12 victories. He does not inflate his stats or take reckless shots. He has only taken 19 shots and out of his 10 goals in the league, only one could be considered insignificant. This was during a 3-0 win against Girona, where he provided a brilliant assist for the first goal. In his debut, he scored the second goal to secure a win at San Mames. When they were behind at Almería, he scored the equalizer and then the winning goal. He also scored the lone goal in a crucial 81st minute victory against Celta. Against Osasuna, he netted the first two goals and most recently, he scored a game-tying and game-winning goal against Barcelona. In European competitions, he scored the second goal in a 2-1 victory against Braga, the winning goal against Berlin, and gave Madrid a 2-1 lead in their 3-2 victory against Napoli. This outstanding performance led to comparisons to Diego Maradona.
“That’s a bit excessive,” Bellingham remarked. However, a goal of such caliber in that particular location was inevitable. After all, it was just another flattering comparison among many. He had been compared to greats such as Raúl, Zidane, and Ronaldo. And even Jermaine Defoe, although that’s just Bellingham joking around with Joselu (or as he calls him, Peter Crouch). He has even been compared to Alfredo Di Stéfano, the player who forever changed Madrid’s history with his all-around talent. As Ramon Besa wrote in El País, he is “a soloist capable of being the entire orchestra.”
The leading scorer in La Liga going into the highly anticipated match, he had three assists and had won the most duels out of all players – Gavi now holds that title – and there is a clear reason why he is the most frequently fouled player in Spain. On Saturday, his final contribution was a defensive header. It’s not just about scoring goals; it’s about his overall presence and confident personality, as Ancelotti has repeatedly acknowledged. Others on the team look up to him and follow his lead. Even Raúl, a legendary player himself, was amazed by Gavi’s abilities before he even played a game. It was evident from his very first presentation and continues to be seen in his symbolic celebrations – a master of the field. This calm and collected attitude is also reflected in his performances on the pitch – no nerves, just a game that he excels at.
Wow, Bellingham. It’s hard to believe, and it’s not just the usual suspects saying this; it’s the footballers themselves. Even at Real Madrid! They’re amazed by his talent and can’t help but compare him to the best. Vinícius Júnior said, “Our fans were used to Cristiano Ronaldo, now they have Jude.” Modric added, “He’s only just arrived but it feels like he’s been here forever. It’s no coincidence; he’s a great guy and an extraordinary talent.” Just take a look at their tweets: David Alaba wrote “Just different,” Thibaut Courtois simply said “HIM,” and Brahim called him “the boy.” Rodrygo was so impressed he used exploding head emojis.
However, if that seems too much of a public display, as Bellingham guided his teammates towards the approximately 150 fans in the stands at the end of his first clásico, Modric came up to him with a wide smile on his face, exclaiming: “What a signing! What a signing!” Ancelotti praised him as “a shining star who has landed here.” As for Rüdiger, he urged him to repeat his performance.