Today, we had the pleasure of watching the classic bipolar version of Real Madrid. In the first 20 minutes of the match, everything looked so encouraging. Real players were hungry, motivated and for once converted their chances, so Real was quickly 2-0 up.
However, upon scoring the second goal Real took the foot off the gas and let Dortmund grew into the game and score two goals. Real's lackluster defending and compactness was once again on full display. In the second half, the game opened up so much that you could mistake it for a preseason game, as you could see waves and waves of attacks and counter-attacks.
Keylor Navas: 7 - Keylor is slowly getting up to speed, which is great news, and he was by no means at fault for either one of the two conceded goals. He made an excellent point-blank save, but Real's defenders gave Aubameyang time and space to chip Keylor from the rebound.
Nacho: 6.5 - Nacho was moved around the back-line all the time. He started as a right-back, then he was moved to center-back when Varane was taken off, but due to Lucas' shortcomings as a right-back, Nacho once again assumed the right-back duties while Casemiro dropped to center-back position. At every position, Nacho was quite solid and managed to keep Aubameyang's runs in check.
Varane: 8 - Varane has been Real's best player of the season and his potential injury is a huge blow, as we could see from this game. Real's defense with Varane and without is like a day and night. Varane covers so many flaws and constantly bails out his teammates with last second tackles and interceptions.
Sergio Ramos: 5 - Oh Sergio. Today wasn't your day. You were sloppy, uninterested and slow. You were caught out of position so many times that I couldn't keep track of it. Usually, you know when to step up and intercept passes, but today you couldn't.
Theo Hernandez: 6.5 - This was one of Theo's better games, but it was far from perfect as Pulisic got better of him on almost every occasion. However, Theo was very good going forward and attacking space. Given his strengths, I do hope that we won't see Theo playing as a winger, because it negates most of his strong attributes - strong runs from deep and overlapping. Overall, it was encouraging decent performance.
Casemiro: 6.5 - I wonder if Casemiro ever gets frustrated when he sees his teammates not tracking back. Our compactness has been shocking this season and Casemiro has been unable to revert it. I just wish that he improved upon passing to allow free-flowing passing. A lot of times, he rather keeps it extremely simple (passes back to center-backs) instead of looking for players in between lines. And for the record, it's also something that Marcos Llorente needs to work on.
Mateo Kovacic - 6.5: Mateo certainly produced some good moments, but he still needs more minutes. He did make a lot of good runs, but he failed to pass the ball at the right moment. In defense, he covered for Casemiro, when he stepped up, but quite often he didn't track back quick enough to help the defenders.
Isco 6.5: I was quite surprised to see Isco start this meaningless game. It was a good opportunity for Zidane to give Isco a bit of a rest while giving much needed minutes to Ceballos. Well, Isco was once again a creative hub of Real's attack and his unintentional (or genius?) touch set up Borja's opening goal of the match.
This is Borja Mayoral's goal against BVB. Cristiano did fantastic in making it possible!pic.twitter.com/vmwy3LBHcv— José Villacreses (@jj_villac) December 6, 2017
Lucas Vazquez 7: Lucas starting spot has been heavily criticised by the fans, but I think it's very clear why he start. Real's attack generally lack speed and width and with Asensio and Bale unavailable, only Lucas has these traits, so I make sense to start him. And today, Zidane's trust has been repaid with a winning goal in the second half.
Ronaldo - 8: In this game, Ronaldo was placed on his favorite left wing and he did look much better than he does as a striker, but bare in mind that Dortmund's defense is shocking. And Ronaldo casually set a new record in Champions League. In Europe, Ronaldo is unstoppable (19 goals in last 11 games).
Borja Mayoral - 8: Borja had a great overall game. He moved excellently around and in the box. He says that he tries to model his game after Benzema, but he certainly has slightly different traits. He is a great box predator and he knows exactly where to be. He scored his first of his (surely) many Champions League goals.
Dani Ceballos - 6.5: Dani Ceballos is wonderful and it pains me to watch him on sidelines game after game. I don't know why Zidane doesn't trust him more. Is he being cautious? Does he want him to adapt to a different role? I have no clue, but this treatment reminds me of Kovacic's situations in Zidane's first 6-8 months. Kovacic also barely played...
Marco Asensio - 6.5: I expect a bit from Marco when he came on. I thought he would be able to capitalise on Dortmund's leaky defense, but he was quiet tonight.
Marcos Llorente: N/A
Man of the Match: Ronaldo