A return to La Liga action after another disappointing draw last week against Levante. Marca dubbed the match a “rehearsal” as PSG awaits on the horizon mid-week. Zidane rested Gareth Bale, Casemiro, and Nacho. With the change in personnel also came a change in formation; 4-4-2 with Vazquez and Asensio acting as pure wingers. Zidane’s men came out blazing—a goal within 50 seconds and three more followed in a first half that ended 4-0. Keylor Navas didn’t even have to make one save. The second half was more subdued as Madrid looked to cruise through the final 45. All in all a good day at the office especially for Cristiano who notched three goals and an assist.
This is our starting XI for tonight's match against @RealSociedadEN! VAMOS!#RMLiga | #RMMovistar pic.twitter.com/7p1szAYyFD— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 10, 2018
Keylor Navas—6.5: Did not have to make a single save in the first half. The first shot on target for the opposition was in the 73rd minute and it resulted in a goal. Given the lack of opportunities for Sociedad, Keylor will be upset that they were able to score two.
Dani Carvajal—7: Very disciplined defensively and was a rock at the back.
Raphael Varane— 6: Fluid on the ball. Has Improved his dribbling from the back in which he breaks lines and creates options for himself. Caught too deep on Sociedad’s first goal as the rest of the defensive line had stepped up.
Sergio Ramos— 7: A serious performance from Sergio, he sniffed out any potential attack from Sociedad. Pushed his defensive line high and suffocated La Real— the pressure was too much and Madrid scored three in the first half.
Marcelo—8.5: Absolutely brilliant offensively. His crosses, his interplay, his 1v1 take on’s were second to none. Marcelo helped set up the first goal with his through ball to Ronaldo. It would be those two linking up again when Marcelo found Ronaldo on Madrid’s second goal. Did leave a few gaps in the back, but Ramos and Kroos were able to mitigate any problems.
Toni Kroos—9: Played in a midfield four with Modric accompanying him in the middle. The two wizards controlled the midfield and defensively Madrid played in a block of eight. Toni and Modric pulled all the strings. In typical Kroos fashion, curled in a beautiful one time shot right on the edge of the box for Madrid’s third goal.
Luka Modric—8: The maestro along with Kroos. Slipped Ronaldo through with a gorgeous defense splitting pass, which was unfortunate not to end in a goal.
Lucas Vazquez—8: Got the party started with a headed goal within 50 seconds of the match starting. Also notched an assist to Kroos. Was disciplined tactically, pressing high when Karim pushed and then moving into a block of eight when the team sat in defensively. Was active on the right side, taking on De La Bella with every opportunity.
Marco Asensio—8.5: Fantastic performance from young Marco, is there any chance he starts vs PSG? Was involved in nearly every goal for Madrid and was unlucky not to get one himself. His understanding with Marcelo and Cristiano is game changing and can break any defense down. Had a number of opportunities to drive the ball up through the midfield and demonstrate his break-neck speed.
Karim Benzema—6: Unlucky not to be amongst the goals in the first half as he hit the post for the fifth time this season. Wasn’t as involved as the rest of the attack in first half. Had a perfect opportunity to score in the last second of the game from a Gareth Bale cross and missed—the boos ensued.
Cristiano Ronaldo—9.5: Big time performance from Cristiano which will help boost confidence ahead of PSG. Two goals and an assist within the opening 45 minutes. There may be no one better in world football with off the ball movement coupled with his pure hunger to score goals, makes Cristiano the goal machine that he is. Completed his hat trick in the 80th minute after tapping in the rebound from a Gareth Bale shot. Looks to be making up for loss time in the Pichichi race.
Mateo Kovacic—7: came on with 30 minutes Remaining to give Modric some rest. Played well and put in some well time challenges to impede Sociedad counters. Probably the best of the substitutes.
Isco—6: Was active but made little impact on a game that was already finished.
Gareth Bale—7: Played the last fifteen minutes and had some nice attacking touches. Nearly scored off a blistering shot, but instead the rebound fell to Cristiano who buried his third goal.
Zinedine Zidane—8.5: Zizou changed the system to a 4-4-2, introducing Asensio and Vazquez, both of whom played great. Will be interesting to see if a 4-4-2 is implemented against PSG as the team pressed well, but also more importantly sat back in a block of eight and defended well. A big confidence boost with goals galore will but the perfect rehearsal ahead of the midweek showdown.
MOTM: Cristiano Ronaldo