It was 83 minutes of mundane mediocrity from Madrid’s “untouchables”. Santiago Solari’s debut La Liga XI was more of the same—maybe the lone surprise being Asensio getting the nod over Isco. The whole team, aside from Liga debutant Sergio Reguilon, was absent for 83 minutes. The man of the match, by lunar miles according to BeIn Sports match announcer Ray Hudson who could not stop gushing over the young Spaniards performance, was Sergio Reguilon. His crossing was accurate and intentional, composed in possession, kept his defensive shape well with the back four, and motored up and down the left flank until the final minute. Real Valladolid, who coming into the game sat 6th in the table against a Real Madrid side languishing in 9th, were impressive. Two of their young attacking players, Tony Villa and Leo Suarez proved to be a handful for Madrid. Solari ended up having the luck that Lopetegui did not—two of Valladolid’s shots bounced back off the cross-bar, when they looked to be certain goals. Ultimately, it would be the introduction of Vinicius JR, and more his energy and positivity, rather than actual production that would prove to be the difference. Ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6: Valladolid, despite their good performance, only had two shots on target, which were easily saved by Courtois. Was fortunate to see two lasers from Valladolid, hit the crossbar.
Alvaro Odriozola—4.5: After a MOTM performance against Segunda B side Melilla in the midweek fixture, Odriozola was expected to follow that up with another confidence producing performance. It just wasn’t there for Alvaro tonight, he was a black hole offensively—time after time attempting to whack a cross in with a defender right in front of him, thus the ball just ricochets straight to the opposition. Failed to lack along the back line on a number of occasions and kept Valladolid on side for dangerous opportunities.
Nacho—6: Had a 92% passing accuracy from his 50 passes. Only 1 clearance and was not registered for any interceptions or tackles in this match. Valladolid looked to attack down the wings and Nacho and Ramos main role was to keep their shape.
Sergio Ramos—7: Four interceptions, six clearances, 76 passes with a 91% passing accuracy, and a paneka penalty. Ramos was not to blame for this flat performance from Madrid.
Sergio Reguilon—9: What a Liga debut for Reguilon. Man of the match by a “lunar mile” according to Ray Hudson. His crossing was accurate and intentional, composed in possession, kept his defensive shape well with the back four, and motored up and down the left flank until the final minute. He won nearly all of his defensive 1 v 1 duel and was equally impressive isolated 1 v 1 on the attacking side of the pitch. From left back, he led the team with 5 key passes.
Casemiro—6: Was sacrificed for Isco in the second half, but was not the cause of Madrid’s problems. Casemiro had 3 tackles and was composed in possession with 2 key passes and a 90% passing accuracy.
Toni Kroos—6: Had the most touches in the match (112) and followed just behind Reguilon with 4 key passes. Misplaced a few more passes than usual and still does not look to be fully up to speed.
Luka Modric—5: What does it take to give this guy an extended rest? The fans know it, the media knows it, Modric himself knows it—he needs an extended rest and proper mini “pre-season” after his exploits at the World Cup. Had a horrible first half, but improved in the second half.
Marco Asensio—6: Asensio had a pretty good showing in the first half, one of the few players who did, he would have nabbed two assists had Benzema and Bale tucked away the opportunities he put on a plate for them. As the match wore on, he faded and was ultimately substituted for Vinicius Jr.
Karim Benzema—5.5: Did not come alive until the final ten minutes after Madrid had scored where he produced some magic to get out of a tight spot with three Valladolid defenders surrounding him. For the other 80 minutes of the game, Benzema missed good opportunities—one an early chance fed through by Asensio.
Gareth Bale—4: Santiago Solari put the pressure on Bale pre-game, stating that the spotlight would be on him. It was another poor performance from Bale, who now goes on his longest run without scoring in a Real Madrid shirt. He played it safe all night long.
Isco—6: The first change made by Solari in attempt to give Madrid a more attacking impetus. Circulated possession well, but did little else.
Lucas Vazquez—6: As is often the case, came on and was full of industry and effort. You could sense Lucas’ desire to change the game.
Vinicius Jr—8: The X-factor. He may not have the quality of Benzema, Bale, or Asensio just yet but he brings energy, positivity, and a sense of excitement every time he touches the ball. This fan base yearns for that energy and the team desperately needs it, especially in the absence of his compatriot Marcelo. He drove into the box and took a chance, his shot then deflected and went into the back of the net. Then he earned the penalty through a combination with Benzema. The young Brazilian was a game changer and deserves more minutes.