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El Clásico 2016: Player Ratings

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Casemiro is the man of the match, followed closely by Ronaldo and Bale.

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Defense:

Keylor Navas: 8/10

He may have conceded a goal, but Keylor Navas still put in a strong performance vs. a potent attacking force in Barcelona. He made a brilliant save on Rakitic's low drive in the 19th minute, and somehow topped that with a wonder save on Messi's lobbed effort in the 54th minute. Aside from that he was crucial for Madrid's defensive stability as he was extremely quick of his line to snuff out any danger that came near his goal. The only criticism I can aim at him is that he punched one cross that he could've caught.

Dani Carvajal: 7/10

Carvajal didn't have one of his strongest games, as he was sloppy in possession (3 mis-controls and was dispossessed once), sometimes ruining Madrid's potential counter-attacks. He also didn't make too many defensive actions, as he failed to make a single tackle, but managed 1 interception and 2 clearances. Nevertheless, his defensive performance is not done proper justice by his statistics, for as the game grew, he shut-off passing lanes extremely well and marked Neymar out of the game. But his most important moment came when he made a spearing run through the heart of Barcelona's midfield that led to a fantastic Real Madrid goal. Overall a mixed game from Carvajal, but considering how Neymar has tortured him in the past, this was a definite move in the right direction.

Pepe: 7/10

Some might feel this rating is too high, and some might feel it's too low, but Pepe deserves a 7/10 rating for having a very mixed performance. There were moments where he was simply brilliant, evidenced by his 2 tackles, 1 interception (the one where he acrobatically flicked the ball away from Suarez late into the second half) and 4 clearances, but there were also times where he just went absolutely berserk. The first was when he was marking Pique. Instead of focusing on his assignment he tried to engage in banter with the Spanish center back, leading him to totally lose his man when the ball was crossed into the box. Poor Keylor Navas was left helpless as Pique smashed an emphatic header into the back of the net. The second moment was in the second half, when Pepe thought it was a good idea to run out of defense with the ball at his feet. Of course it was a terrible idea, and Pepe lost the ball, nearly costing us a second goal. For those two moments, I can't give Pepe anything higher than a 7/10.

Sergio Ramos: 7/10

Ramos gets the same rating as Pepe for a similarly mixed performance. The Real Madrid captain was mostly solid, completing 3 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 2 clearances. But in the first half he was shaky, as he was being drawn out of position by Suarez too easily. There was also the small matter of the red card. I don't dock points from Ramos for the first one, which was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen, but I do dock points for the second yellow. Yeah, Suarez milked the foul for all it was worth, but Ramos should know better than to go sliding in like that when he had no chance of winning the ball. It put Real Madrid under unnecessary pressure, and if it wasn't for a brilliant counter, and a frankly stunning finish by Ronaldo, Ramos may have been the villain at the end of it all.

Marcelo: 8/10

For all the fears about how Messi would destroy Marcelo coming into the Clásico, the Brazilian did spectacularly well. Ronaldo's defensive positioning did help Marcelo, but there were rarely any moments in the match where you felt Marcelo was leaving Madrid completely exposed. There were some smaller problems that showed itself in the beginning of the first half, where Marcelo was struggling to plug the space between him and Ramos, but that dissipated quickly. In the end, Marcelo showed that he could put in a disciplined performance, whilst still executing a magnificent offensive display (and oh was his offensive display magnificent). His dribble to create the first goal (interesting that both of Madrid's goals were created by their fullbacks eh?) was simply out of this world. He left Barcelona's defenders on their knees with his sly turns and shimmies, and he showed supreme decision making to lay the ball off to Kroos instead of going for the shot.

Midfield:

Casemiro: 9/10 (MOTM)

I said it before in my tactical review, but it's worth stating again: Casemiro was the best player of the match. He started off somewhat shaky positionally like the rest of his midfield, but as the minutes ticked by, Casemiro grew in confidence and form. Helped by the defensive positioning of Ronaldo and Bale, and by Messi's poor positioning, Casemiro dominated the congested space in the middle of the park and gave a particular Argentinian nightmares. He was simply a monster and his final defensive statistics represent this fully: 8 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 clearance, and 2 blocked shots. Well done Casemiro, you shut up the haters and proved your worth in the toughest match you could play all season.

Luka Modric: 8/10

The diminutive Croatian had a quietly good game, helping Casemiro ably in his defensive duties whilst providing the base for Real Madrid's attacks down the right-hand side. He completed the match with an insane 97% pass accuracy and also registered some defensive actions and 2 key passes. Overall, it wasn't vintage Modric, but this wasn't a set-up made for him to thrive in. Modric loves a possession-based system, where he has more freedom to roam and pass the ball about. But today he showed his immense technical abilities and quality of character by getting on with it and setting up counter-attack after counter-attack.

Toni Kroos: 8/10

Similar to Modric, this system is not the type of scheme you would think Kroos would thrive in. Nevertheless, Kroos also had a quietly good game. Perhaps not as quite defensively sound as Modric, Kroos still did well enough to form an effective block in front of his back-line, making it damn near impossible to penetrate Real Madrid's goal. Kroos also did well to connect with Ronaldo and Marcelo down the left-flank, helping facilitate counter-attacks in the same way Modric did down the right. Again, not vintage Kroos, but he did well in a system he has rarely ever played in.

Attack:

Gareth Bale: 8.5/10

Jordi Alba's worst nightmare would look a lot like Gareth Bale - big, imposing, a good dribbler, and fast as hell - after this performance from the Welshman, as he absolutely tore Barcelona's right-flank to shreds. His sheer pace, coupled with his newly improved close control this season, made him nigh impossible to stop, as Jordi Alba desperately tried to scramble back from advanced positions to help out his terrified center backs. Yet it was to no avail, as Bale brushed Alba aside and carried Madrid's attack along with Ronaldo. He eventually got his reward, after a stupidly disallowed goal, when he swung in a tantalizing cross with his right boot towards Ronaldo.

Karim Benzema: 7/10

It seems harsh to give Benzema such an average grade, when he scored a stunning bicycle-kick goal, but he really wasn't present for Real Madrid this game. He was sloppy in the first half with 4 mis-controls, giving Barcelona the ball back in dangerous situations and preventing Madrid from countering. Things did improve in the second half, as Benzema drifted across the pitch and became a better foil, but his incisive link-up play and passing was always missing. It was telling that Madrid's counters became faster and more potent after Jese came on.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 8.5/10

Let's be honest, besides that absolutely spectacular chest control and finish through the legs of Claudi Bravo, Ronaldo didn't do anything (except for being one of the two outlets in Madrid's attack, except for torturing Dani Alves with his dribbling and pace, except for planting a cross on Bale's head that should've been a goal, and except for defending brilliantly). Yup typical Ronaldo performance. Get's his teammates to do all the work and takes all the glory at the end of it.

Substitutions

Jesé: N/A

(not enough time spent on the pitch to grade fairly)

Lucas Vazquez: N/A

(not enough time spent on the pitch to grade fairly)

(All statistics taken from whoscored.com)