Today marked the final instalment of the 18/19 Champions League group stages, and Real Madrid were not only guaranteed to progress, but certain to finish top of the tree regardless of the result today. For that reason, Solari commendably made multiple rotations for the visit of CSKA Moscow, and opted to give a few youngsters a good opportunity to impress. Madrid were outshined on their own turf, losing the game 3-0. Due to the nature of the fixture, this one may not be so deep. The line-up’s and player ratings were as so:
Thibaut Courtois — 5: Whilst it’s questionable to claim that Courtois should have done more to prevent the three goals conceded, it’s perhaps fairer to say that he could have done more during a couple of instances. A keeper with such a reach being caught on with precise shots into the corners three times certainly raises an eyebrow. An overall very below par game from a keeper that’s seen a decent spell of form recently.
Álvaro Odriozola — 5.5: Didn’t quite cause as many positional problems as his opposite fullback, but still had a complicated game. Got forwards plenty but failed to create anything significant.
Javier Sánchez — 4.5: As much as I like Javier Sánchez and think it was a great decision to start him for this game, I don’t think he made a good impression tonight. Whilst he didn’t have a horror show his defending was at times very uncharacteristically poor. For the first goal his positioning was not ideal, allowing the scorer too much space. His lack of agility on the turn allowed the right-back Fernandes to somehow beat him to a ball before the second goal. This is however unlikely to reflect poorly on his seemingly meteoric rise in the last month or so.
Jesús Vallejo — 5: A slow showing from Vallejo. This was a big missed opportunity to really attempt to gain some ground on his competition and change his luck.
Marcelo — 4.5: A defensive ordeal from the Brazilian. You could argue that he had a hand in all three goals conceded before being taken off for Dani Carvajal.
Marcos Llorente — 7: One of few players to come away from this game with a decent performance. Despite coming off for Toni Kroos in the second half, Marcos remains a potential man of the match candidate for me.
Fede Valverde — 6.5: Fede certainly earned some plaudits for his showing, and by no means wasted his chance. Showed some frustration towards the closing stages and got booked for a reckless tackle, but impressed throughout the game.
Isco — 5: This is a nightmare for Isco, who bizarrely is finding himself desperate to impress during these cameos. He had a decent opportunity to score, but took far too long on the ball and the chance disintegrated. At times received a few whistles from the home fans.
Vinícius Júnior — 7: Lively as usual from the prodigy. Completed another collection of dribbles, and came as close as anyone to getting on the score-sheet. Also created a fair few chances for others, but as the scoreline suggests nothing came from that. It’s a battle between Vinícius and Marcos for the man of the match title.
Marco Asensio — 6: Attempted a couple of memorable curling efforts, with one clipping off of the bar. Whilst it was 0-0 he was pretty active, driving at defenders. As soon as the score-line changed though, Marco became far more easily contained.
Karim Benzema — 4.5: Some good runs off the ball and one decent moment on it, but not really enough on this occasion. Came off at half time for Gareth Bale to come on.
Gareth Bale — 5: Gareth was brought on to try and save the game, but worryingly looked like he was going to be brought off again after going down with an ankle injury... He played on and saw out the game, but made no significant contributions.
Toni Kroos — 5: Didn’t get up to much after coming on, but you could perhaps say that he helped to steady the ship.
Dani Carvajal — 5.5: Came on with around 15 minutes to go for Marcelo, and was probably better defensively than the Brazilian.
An embarrassing loss for Madrid. One that brings plenty of alluring statistics and facts with it. The game of course means absolutely nothing in the long run, but for many of the disappointed players this must feel like a wasted opportunity. Madrid ended up finishing top of group G, with Roma losing their game against Viktoria Plzeň - meaning that CSKA go home empty handed without a Europa League spot, despite the historic win. Who do you want to see Real Madrid draw for the knock out stages?