Raul De Tomas and Mateo Kovacic both started for their respective teams today, but both suffered the same fate as Real Madrid: harrowing defeats. Neither had good games with Mateo Kovacic, in particular, with a very poor performance. Notes and analysis on their performances below:
Raul De Tomas (Rayo Vallecano) vs Valencia
Valencia secured their second successive victory in La Liga and their first win at the Mestalla since May. Rayo struggled to create anything offensively, it was stale first half for both sides, but a goal late in the first half from Santi Mina, followed by another from Mina early in the second half sentenced Rayo to yet another defeat. Rayo looked to bunker in and counter when the opportunity presented itself, but they failed to get enough numbers forward in support of RDT whenever they won the ball. The player positions following the match shows just how deep they sat:
Playing away from home against a side like Valencia, always meant Raul De Tomas would be starved of service. He has learned to thrive off of mere scraps, but today’s match was particularly difficult. He was forced to play deeper than usual and try to get on the ball. When he did receive it, he looked good and played well in tight spaces. He does a tremendous job with holding defenders off, turning them, then finding an outlet and immediately moving into the box for a potential opportunity. He only had 30 touches, the lowest of any outfield Rayo player who started the match, because his team simply could not get him the ball.
Per the heat map above, RDT was forced to play away from his best area on the pitch: the oppositions box. The more we see Raul De Tomas this season, the more we see how good a player he is, even playing or Rayo. Some arguments have been made that he is a better player or at least a better La Liga player than Mariano—not an outlandish “take”. In a better team, he could very well be one of the top scorers in La Liga.
Match Rating: 6 / 10
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) vs Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino got it all right against Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri, offering them their first defeat of the season and formidable one. Within the opening 15 minutes, Spurs could have been up by three or four goals, and that is being conservative. Delle Alli nullified any influence on the match from Jorginho, while the off the ball movement of Eriksen, Son, and Harry Kane caused both the Chelsea midfield and defense massive headaches. It was a 3-1 victory for Spurs with goals from Delle Alli, Harry Kane, and Son.
Kovacic started on the left of the usual midfield three for Chelsea: Kova—Jorginho—Kante. Similar to his Real Madrid teammates, it will be a game to forget for the Croatian. On Spurs opening goal in the seventh minute, Kovacic was marking Delle Alli who leaped in front of the Croatian to nod home the first goal and begin the Spurs onslaught. Tottenham’s midfield and attack completely overrode Chelsea. Kovacic and his fellow midfielders could not figure out who to track and how to track the incisive and creative runs from Spurs. Son nearly scored the third goal for Spurs at the end of the first half after a beautiful lobbed ball by Eriksen found the Korean who was left wide open by Kova.
The two holding midfielders, Eric Dier and Moussa Sissoko, gave Spurs that extra physicality and aerial presence that allowed them to dominate the central part of the pitch. Sissoko simply bossed Kovacic in this game, producing one monster tackle late in the first half that certainly sent a message to Madrid loanee. Kovacic was yanked by Sarri around the 55th minute and Ross Barkley entered the match.
Statistics from WhoScored:
Passing: 45 (93% completion rate)
Key Passes: 1
Match Rating: 4.5 / 10