BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Jude Bellingham has surpassed all expectations since arriving at Real Madrid by scoring big goal after big goal to keep his team with a perfect six wins across all competitions.
Bellingham has scored in all but one of his appearances with Madrid. The 20-year-old England midfielder will now face his first derby on Sunday at Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league when the hosts will aim to stop him increasing his tally of six goals in as many games.
Bellingham has shown a knack of being where he needs to be to snatch last-gasp winners. He was there to turn in a rebound and secure a 1-0 win over Union Berlin in their Champions League opener on Wednesday, after having scored a similar goal against Getafe in the Spanish league earlier this month.
For Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, Bellingham “has talent and it looks like he’s lucky” with the ball bouncing his way.
“This goal is similar to the one against Getafe, but you have to be there,” Ancelotti said about his new star's goal against Berlin. “He’s smarter than others when attacking from the second line. He has this quality and he’s making the most of it.”
Madrid tops the Spanish league with a two-point lead over Barcelona and Girona. Athletic Bilbao is fourth at five points adrift.
Atletico is already eight points back in seventh place and is wary of top rivals from opening up a lead that would be hard to close.
Diego Simeone’s team was flying high after dealing Rayo Vallecano a 7-0 defeat on the road last month. But since returning from the international break, Atletico has slumped to a 3-0 loss at Valencia and drew 1-1 at Lazio in its Champions League opener after the opposing goalkeeper equalized with a stoppage-time header.
Atletico is hoping forward Memphis Depay and midfielder Koke Resurrección will be back from injury in time for the game. Pablo Barrios, its scorer against Lazio, is injured and will miss the game at the Metropolitano Stadium.
Madrid will likely still be without winger Vinícius Júnior, who is recovering from a muscle injury. Defender Éder Militão and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois are out with long-term leg injuries.
Barcelona hosts Celta Vigo on Saturday with João Félix thriving after joining the club from Atletico at the close of the transfer window.
The Portugal forward has scored three goals in his first two appearances for Barcelona, including a double to help beat Antwerp 5-0 in the Champions League this week.
Félix said that he had to take a pay cut to leave Atletico on loan, but that it was worth it to find a team that fits his creative playing style.
“If you are having a bad time, you have to change where you are,” Félix told Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo. “I did not feel good (at Atletico), I didn’t adapt to the ideas of the club or the coach (Simeone), even if I always tried to play as well as possible.”
Celta has only won once since Rafa Benítez took over as its coach this summer.
Girona, the surprise of the league so far, hosts Mallorca on Saturday.
The small club from north of Barcelona is undefeated thanks to nine different players chipping in with goals, led by Cristhian Stuani and Yangel Herrera with two each.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer
Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press