My first live match update, and player ratings shift in a while brought on the visit of Czech side Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League. The team have been struggling lately if you hadn’t noticed, so anything but a win today would blow the lid off of boiling point… Again. Keylor Navas started in goal, whilst Lucas Vázquez was deployed as a right-back. Bale and Benzema made a front two, ahead of Isco, Kroos, Modrić and Casemiro. Madrid came out 2-1 victors, and my player ratings were as so:
Keylor Navas — 6.5: It can be difficult to score a keeper a decent number when they didn’t have much visible involvement, but Keylor still made a string of great saves - probably rescuing the result for Madrid after taking the final score into consideration. Potentially could have done better for the visitors’ goal - but still a good performance by the nimble glovesman.
Lucas Vazquez — 7: Pasture’s new for the Castilla graduate. Odriozola was left on the bench and Lucas was given the nod as a right-back, and he actually did pretty good. He got forward well, and to my memory never got caught out tracking back. Got the assist for Karim Benzema’s goal. A stronger game from a player that has drawn a lot of criticism for over-involvement this season.
Sergio Ramos — 6: Had the usual hat-trick or so of chances from the off. Didn’t get that much action defensively, and dealt with nearly whatever came his way. Still a pretty quiet game.
Nacho Fernandez — 6: Again, a quiet one for the centre-backs. Nacho did alright, but it’s hard to give him much leeway when not much happened. Again dealt with most things that Viktoria threw towards him.
Marcelo — 6.5: Decent game from the Brazilian, for all of the usual reasons… Got forwards constantly throughout the game, and even scored Madrid’s second goal with a delicate chipped effort. Provided a lot of support for the attacking players. Came off right at the death after being on the receiving end of a bad tackle. Perhaps now a doubt for the Barcelona game this weekend...
Casemiro — 6: Not a standout game for the defensive midfielder, but by no means a bad one. Defensively brought his usual hand to the table, but offered nothing offensively.
Toni Kroos — 6: When a side that dominates possession contains Toni Kroos in the midfield, you know the German will be at the centre of it all. Toni controlled the tempo the way he nearly always does in this game, and offered a strong link from defence to attack.
Luka Modrić — 6.5: A fair showing from Luka, who looked to be getting back into the groove of things. Played pretty fluid and looked sharp on the ball with his passing. Still can turn in up several notches.
Isco — 5: Not one of Isco’s best games. Had a very quiet first half before coming off for Fede Valverde early in the second.
Gareth Bale — 5.5: Looked sharp at times, but squandered a handful of chances, and failed to make too much of an impact on the game. Got the assist for Marcelo’s goal with a skillfull flick, and scored a goal that was then ruled out for offside. Was replaced by Marco Asensio in the second half.
Karim Benzema — 7.5: Man of the match for me today! Scored the first goal with a typical finish, and would go on to find the net again - this time being halted by the offside flag. Apart from his goal his movement off the ball was top quality, especially in and around the penalty area. He also looked to drive at defenders with the ball on several occasions, and could’ve had a few assist on a brighter day. Great showing from the striker.
Fede Valverde — 7: His Real Madrid debut, and one to remember. Came on for Isco and was immediately involved with the second goal after taking a good touch forwards and finding Bale who picked out the goalscorer Marcelo. Played in an unusual position, one that was similar to the way Deportivo fielded him at times last season. He found himself out-wide at times, and roaming through the middle at various others. Made one poor pass in particular, but made up for it with three vital defensive contributions. He played with a lot of heart out there, something that I can assure you from his Castilla days that you will always get from him. More Fede please!
Marco Asensio — 5: Not a bad cameo, not a blinder. Came on for Gareth Bale. Marco’s effort sits right in the middle Didn’t get up to too much, but went on a couple of runs towards the final few minutes.
Mariano: Came on right at the end of the match for Karim Benzema. I did see one close-up of his uniquely blonde locks. What else is there to say? No rating.
Real Madrid are back to the top of the Champions League group G table! This scoreline was entirely unimpressive, but at the same time it didn’t really look in doubt. The team still has a long way to go down the road of improvement, and with El Clasico looming they will have to produce far better to get any result from there… As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments!