Solari’s third game in charge would introduce him to Champions League management. Having won the title with Real Madrid as a player, he now has the opportunity to win it as a manager. Of course, if that was to somehow happen then plenty of black magic would need to come into play. Perhaps this game was a sign of things to come... Long story short Madrid didn’t play too well but won 5-0! Here’s how the players fared:
Thibaut Courtois — 7: Despite the hosts having almost as many shots on target as Madrid did, Courtois only had three saves to make all game. He took two of those saves very well and spilled the third, but besides that was very comfortable during the game. The initial agreement was to see Navas as the Cup keeper and Courtois as the League keeper, so now that Thibaut has earned a cup start it will be interesting to see what happens during the next league game.
Álvaro Odriozola — 6: A quieter game from the full-back, but by no means a bad one. Was one of the stronger defenders when Viktoria were carving Madrid apart, and still managed to surge forwards in support of his teammates. Taking his recent opportunities in very good fashion.
Sergio Ramos — 5.5 Prompted a lot of online rage fuelled of course by the tabloids aimed at red profiles, after his elbow connected with the Viktoria captains face and caused quite a bit of bleeding. Didn’t really play that well away from that incident, which is becoming an apparent trend when I’m on player ratings duty. Was brought off early for Javier Sánchez.
Nacho Fernández — 6: Similar from Nacho, who scores a higher rating than Ramos simply for the fact he had 30 minutes more to do so. Made a few mistakes at the back but was lucky that they weren’t punished. Did put a couple of key blocks in, too.
Sergio Reguilón — 6: Another good game by the youngster, though not his best in recent times. Suffered a bit at first as his space was utilised by the opposition, but settled into the game after a while. Provided some nice runs and crosses over the course of the match, and was involved in Bale’s goal after delivering the initial cross.
Casemiro — 7: Strong performance from Casemiro, with a few blips here and there. Defensively very important to try and steer the ship as Viktoria were running ragged early on. On the ball played a fair few dodgy passes, but his presence was important nonetheless.
Toni Kroos — 8: Man of the match for me. Provided some hugely important passes throughout the course of the match, and popped up with a stunning goal as well. Had two assists by half time. Was at the heart of Madrid’s possession as you would expect. The finish for his goal was exquisite, and it needed to be due to the pass received by Vinícius. Vintage Toni.
Dani Ceballos — 6: Ceballos was deployed in the same role as Fidalgo at Castilla; one that has seen a lot of success for the reserve side this season. Although it wasn’t as visibly effective as it could’ve been Ceballos still had a decent game. Showed off his superior touch on multiple occasions.
Lucas Vázquez — 5: Another weird one from Lucas. Phases of class clouded by a sever lapse of judgement. Should have had a goal that was incorrectly disallowed for offside, tried a decent acrobatic effort inside the box, and had a few nice touches. However, many of his decisions were a weird level of bad. He often passed the ball directly to the opposition despite having all the time in the world, and got the ball caught up in his feet a couple of times too. If he can cut these strange actions out of his game he’d return to being a very useful outlet again.
Gareth Bale — 6.5: Gareth’s back in the goals. Claimed a valuable assist when he used his h head to put the ball on a plate for Benzema, before finding the bottom corner for his goal. Didn’t do as much on the ball as I thought he might against a vulnerable team like Viktoria, but still came up with the goods.
Karim Benzema — 8: When Karim is bad he can be very bad, but when he’s good... Well! Today he was awesome. His first goal was superb as he travelled a long way into the box before skinning his man and slotting him. His second goal was a headed effort from a well worked set piece. He also returned the favour for Gareth Bale, providing the flick on for his goal. Besides this he did what he does best, linking up with his fellow attackers and providing some excellent movement for people like Toni Kroos to rifle balls towards. Excellent game from Karim!
Javier Sánchez — 5.5: Didn’t get much of an opportunity to show off, but this change was one based on sentiment. And it gets my approval. Javier came on for Sergio Ramos to make his Champions League debut, another fitting reward for all of his good work with Castilla over the season’s.
Vinícius Júnior — 6.5: Came on for Karim Benzema in the second half, and did a bit of everything. By that I mean the good, and the bad. His positivity going forwards is always appreciated, and he bagged yet another assist when he played in Kroos for his delicious goal. Also showed that his decision making is still miscalculated, with numerous misplayed final balls. He also took the ball off of Gareth Bale in a good position, much to the Welshman’s frustrations though. The boy is young, and this is easily remedied with game time, though. More Vinícius please, Solari?
Isco: Came on for the last 17 minutes for Toni Kroos, but did not managed to do anything of note. No rating for the magician this time.
Another very strange game. By no means a convincing performance, but a very handsome scoreline. One that Solari’s predecessor could not manage to achieve. The next game brings along the biggest challenge Solari will face as interim. An away trip to Celta Vigo is no easy task, but you still feel like Solari has won the lottery with his trial fixture list. With two questionable showings masked by a downpour of goals, will Celta prove to be a challenge to tall for the black magic?