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Player Ratings; Sporting de Gijón 2-3 Real Madrid (La Liga)

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An Isco-inspired performance helps Real Madrid carry three important points to the Spanish capital.

Real Sporting de Gijon v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

It was a potential banana slip for Real Madrid in Gijón tonight, but Real Madrid will be happy to go back to the Spanish Capital with three very important points. Zinedine Zidane gambled by playing 10 non-starters in this fixture. Sergio Ramos was the only first choice player who featured in tonight’s fixture from the start.

Sporting Gijón took the fight to Los Vikingos from the start, taking the lead twice in the game. Alas, it was the men in Royal White who would go on to batter them.

Los Blancos now look forward to facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Football Club Barcelona in La Liga.

Player Ratings

Kiko Casilla – 6.00

Kiko Casilla got the call to start, as Keylor Navas was rightfully rested by the Mister for the upcoming fixtures against Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona. Casilla was helpless for both the goals, granted the defense was greatly at fault. He failed to contest for either of the goals and was outsmarted by both Cop and Vesga for their goals. Casilla did manage to thwart off Nacho’s poor back pass before Carlos Carmona could deal any damage.

Danilo Luiz da Silva – 8.00

Danilo was superb tonight. He completed one of his finest performances since joining Real Madrid. H did well in defense as well as in offense. He was a constant threat going forward and did not allow us to miss Dani Carvajal at all. He made a good attempt at goal and also delivered a crisp mouth-watering pinpoint cross to Lucas Vazquez early in the game. Danilo was responsible for Real Madrid’s second when his cross found Morata’s head to make it 2-2.

Nacho Fernandez – 6.50

Nacho’s rough times started with him losing Griezmann, allowing the Frenchman to score and Atletico to steal a point, which was followed by the night in Munich, where he was constantly targeted by Bayern and eventually wrestled out of position by Vidal for his goal.

Tonight he was tricked out of position for the first goal. He was also somewhat lucky to have avoided getting booked which would have meant that he miss the fixture against FC Barcelona. Nacho made a good headed effort when was picked up by a wonder ball by James, his header was somehow stopped by Ivan Cuellar. Nacho had a poor back pass, which was put out of play by Casilla in the nick of time, before Carlos Carmona could have the chance of shooting it at goal.

Sergio Ramos – 7.50

The only starter to feature in this game from start to finish. Sergio Ramos had a decent game. He did well in protecting Real Madrid from aerial threats. Ramos was offensively very involved as well. But, just for once Real Madrid did not have to depend on his super-human abilities for the three points.

Fabio Coentrao – 7.00

Fabio Coentrao was given a rare start by Zidane. He got himself involved surprisingly well both offensively and defensively and even attempted winning fouls whenever possible. He was doing fine and the only reason he was taken off was because Real Madrid needed more goals and Marcelo is an excellent goal creator as witnessed even tonight.

James Rodriguez– 7.00

James was not by any means terrible. While his freekick was poor, his corners came bearing gifts. James set up Nacho beautifully for a certain goal, which could have been one, only for Ivan Cuellar to stop it. James was not ‘lost’ or ‘invisible’, he worked hard with his teammates, setting up Danilo and Mariano for goals, but alas he could not record an assist or a goal.

Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez – 10.00

Isco was good, so very good. He dazzled in and out of Gijon’s challenges. Isco was sensational throughout the match. He schooled the entire Sporting defense for his first goal. He was involved in another orgasmic solo play and schooled the entire defense for the second time, but a goal could not be scored. He did not have to wait long, for his fiery strike off Marcelo’s pass earned Real Madrid a late winner. Isco completed an outstanding performance and was the reason Real Madrid are taking the three points home.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to extend Isco’s contract.

Mateo Kovačić - 6.50

James and Isco did well in offense but did not have much to offer in defense. The whole burden fell on young Kovačić’s shoulder, who did just okay to hold the midfield together.

Marco Asensio – 6.50

It’s no secret that Marco Asensio possesses impeccable talent and the potential to become a Spanish and Real Madrid great. With Asensio rewarding Madrid whenever given the opportunity and completing a superb performance in Munich against Bayern, he drew comparisons with Gareth Bale from fans and rightfully so.

However, tonight was a rare occasion where Asensio wasn’t his best. He at times was invisible and could not get as involved in the game as he would have liked. Nothing to worry though, Asensio is a magical kid and would seem to be a good replacement for Bale, if the Welshman is not fit for the upcoming season-defining games.

Alvaro Morata - 8.50

Alvaro Morata has an eye for goal, he always does well enough to be in the midst of the Real Madrid attacks for an opportunity to score. He scored the equalizer by finding himself on the path of Danilo’s long range ball. Morata has always answered whenever called upon in Benzema’s absence and tonight was no different.

Lucas Vazquez – 7.00

Lucas Vazquez did not make the final sheet against Bayern Munich. He was involved in almost all of Madrid’s play. He had a chance to score early in the game from Danilo’s pinpoint cross, but his effort was poor. He set up Morata with a beautiful cross, only for the never-smiling forward to head it over the bar. Vazquez attempted an Isco-like individual effort, but his shot was always going off-target.

Substitutes

Marcelo Vieira – 7.50

The creative Brazilian came in for Coentrao and immediately inspired positivity. He did very well and played high up as Real Madrid needed a goal. He was just inches wide of the goal when Isco’s orgasmic play in the box led the ball to his feet. After Mikel Vesga cheaply gave away the ball to Marcelo, he ran forward to deliver the ball to Isco for Real Madrid’s winner.

Mariano Díaz Mejía - 6.50

Mariano came in for Vazquez with the desire of scoring the winner for Real Madrid. He was involved in the short time he was there. He had a headed effort on James’ cross which went over the bar.

Carlos Henrique José Francisco Venâncio Casimiro - N/A

Came on for Kovacic in the 89th minute and was the trademark head-scratcher of a substitution from Zidane. Came in too late to rate.

Man of the Match

Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez - No points for guessing. This tiny magician might have pretty much singled-handedly assured that Real Madrid go in the match with FC Barcelona as leaders and even at the unlikely event of defeat (God forbid) they will still be level on points with a game in hand. If Real Madrid do win La Liga this season, matches like these will have had made the difference.

Even before today’s match it was echoed by every sane Madridista that Isco’s contract should be extended and should be given whatever he demands. Even if Isco does leave, one cannot really blame him. A player of his calibre should never be warming the bench. It will be a big headache for Zidane or whoever the mister is next season, to decide the starting XI.

Manager’s Rating

Zinedine Zidane - 8.00

The rating would have been very different, had Isco not scored the winner late in the match. Zidane’s mountain-sized gamble paid off due to Isco’s individual brilliance. Zidane played 10 non-starters against a La Liga senior side.

Why the high rating, you wonder?

Real Madrid possesses FIFA Manager Mode-like squad depth. Zidane rightfully placed his faith in his reserves and the reserves rewarded him with three huge points. In doing this, he managed to rest the whole of BBC, Modric and Kroos. Marcelo played only one half of the game and Casemiro came in only for a special appearance at the end.