The first match after the international break and Madrid were not at their usual level of performance. Zidane' s men played in a similar fashion this time last year, but justly or unjustly, would score a late goal usually through Morata or James. Those luxury players are no longer there to be called upon and the team has to put games away sooner. Yes, there was a bit of bad luck. Though, with the number of chances created and the dominance of possession, this game should never have been in doubt. Zidane threw out a 4-2-3-1 and offered Marcos Llorente and Theo the opportunity to start. The team lacked cohesion from the outset and never were able to hit top gear. Zidane may take fault for some of the decisions, but ultimately it was a bad day at the office for many who are usually star performers.
Kiko Casilla — 7: Was assertive throughout and did what he had to do well. Madrid has one of the best back up GK’s in the business. Not much he could do on the goal as he was left isolated 1v1 three yards from his net.
Carvajal — 7: Put in a number of superb challenges and got up and down the flank. Levante's opening goal came from a lack of concentration. Carvajal was beaten to the ball by Ivi on a throw-in. Close quality control from Ivi had Carvajal looking for the ball while it was being tucked into the back of the net. A bit unfortunate. As the game wore on, Dani's presence grew and he continually attacked down the right in search of a second goal.
Nacho -- 7: Another consistently solid performance from Nacho. The back line was rarely tested and both Nacho and Ramos cobbled up any attack that came their way. One of the better performers on the night.
Ramos -- 7.5: A good performance. Ramos was strong throughout and it was his header on the corner from Kroos that fell to Lucas for the tap-in. He tried everything to get a second goal and pushed himself high in a center forward position to try and get a hold of a cross. It wasn't meant to be, but the captain never gave up.
Theo — 4.5: Zidane wanted the veteran presence of Ramos and Marcelo alongside Theo to guide him through the game. Both the Brazilian and the youngster interchanged between LB and LW all game. Theo bombed forward as often as he could, but final product was lacking. Misplaced a number of passes and slowed the flow of attack down. His crosses leave a lot to be desired. Not the brightest of starts for the full back, but time is certainly on his side. Just needs that extra bit of confidence to improve his form.
Marcos Llorente -- 6: Tracked back well and did his usual defensive work. Completed his passes and recovered eight possessions within the first half. Though, he and Kroos failed to form a formidable partnership. Not sure if by tactic or flow of the match, but they were often spread far from each other when Madrid was in possession leaving a huge gap in midfield when Madrid lost the ball. Was replaced by Isco after the hour mark to help Madrid find a goal.
Kroos -- 7: Played two brilliant through balls to Gareth Bale in the first half which nearly were converted. It was his corner that Ramos got on the end of and Lucas tucked away. Everything went through him as Madrid searched for a late goal. Was almost the man of the hour as his 93rd minute shot agonizingly hit the post.
Marcelo -- 5.5: Started as a LW, but interchanged with Theo throughout. Continually played incisive passes or direct long balls down the wing for Theo to chase down. The two were always trying to link up, but the final ball just wasn't there today. Had a blistering shot at the end of the match that almost went in, but instead resulted in a red card. Marcelo's momentum threw him into the opposition and as they rolled into the floor Marcelo kicked out in an uncharacteristic bit of rage. His score is marred by his ill discipline.
Lucas Vazquez -- 6.5: Tirelessly ran up and down the right flank. Played with the passion and fire demanded after the team went down. He was duly rewarded with a tap-in goal to bring Madrid level. Much of the play flowed to the left, but tried to make himself available for the switch. His influence waned as the game went on and Asensio started drifting towards the right. Was replaced by Kovacic with 20 minutes remaining.
Marco Asensio -- 5: Very subdued game. Playing in a #10 role within a 4-2-3-1 and saw very limited amounts of the ball. The team played direct and although Asensio has the pace to play that style, he was too often looking for a midfield to combine and link-up. Seemed lost in the scheme and was anonymous for large parts of the game. Zidane played him the full 90, in hopes for a bit of magic, but it was a game to forget for Marco.
Karim Benzema -- 7: Was active and involved during his time in the pitch. Brought down a Dani Carvajal cross with perfection and then set Asensio up for a crack at goal. Came off less than a half hour into the game with an injury.
Gareth Bale — 7: Came on for the injured Benzema after 30 minutes. Made an immediate impact combining with Lucas on the edge of the box with two quick touches. His darting runs across Levante's dangerously high back line gave the boys from Valencia serious headaches. He was always looking across the back line and timing his runs through the gap between the CB and FB. His aerial ability was also a threat, coming inches from scoring at the end of the first half and frustratingly close at the end of the second. His best game of the early season so far, but will be disappointed to have spurned many goal-scoring chances.
Isco-7: El Mago probably should’ve been brought on sooner. He gave Madrid more of an attacking impetus and forced Levante even further back in their block. Played Asensio a brilliant diagonal long ball as soon as he entered the game, but Marco just missed latching on to be through on goal.
Mateo Kovacic — 5: The Croatian is beloved by many, including myself but he did not make any impact in the game. Drifted about the pitch in search of the ball, but was not his usual dynamic-self.
Zinedine Zidane — 5: Interesting choice of team selection. Obviously wanting to provide pure width and give Marco Asensio the chance to play as a #10. The boys were slow off the pace and the team looked like they lacked that extra midfielder as Kroos and Llorente failed to bring cohesion. Maybe should’ve brought on Isco sooner to link the midfield and attack. Cannot blame the Frenchman for brining on Kovacic, but this may have been the day for Ceballos to unlock that Levante back line. Overall a day to forget for Zidane and for Madrid fans.
Man of the Match: Sergio Ramos
Honorable Mention: Toni Kroos