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Player Ratings, La Liga 2017/18: Real Madrid 2 - 1 Leganés

Mateo Kovačić puts in a sparkling performance.

Malaga v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Starters

Kiko Casilla

Rating: 7.5/10

Other than a looping shot from Bustinza in the 73rd minute, Kiko Casilla wasn’t really tested by Leganés. The save required excellent positioning and reflexes to stop the inspired effort, but Casilla’s low involvement in proceedings makes it difficult to give him a higher score.

Achraf Hakimi

Rating: 6.5/10

Achraf started the game off in a bright manner and showed great initiative down the right flank. He often caught Leganés unawares with his speed down the overlap and completed 2/4 crosses and 6/8 dribbles. This proactiveness faded in the second half - thanks to Madrid easing their foot off the gas - while the opposition simultaneously began to attack Achraf and test his defensive prowess. He looked ok when asked to defend 1v1, but he was caught ball-watching on Leganés’ goal. He had plenty of time to take stock of the situation and pick up Brasanac, but he simply lost his concentration in a way that is unacceptable at an elite level. Still, he showed plenty of promise with this offensive work and it’s obvious that his development is moving in the right trajectory.

Jesús Vallejo

Rating: 8.5/10

Vallejo put on a show vs. Leganés with his sublime passing. He recorded a passing accuracy of 89.7%, executed 7/10 long balls, and cut through the away side’s press with vertical passes that pushed his team into the middle third. Defensively, he proved to be astute; he was often in the right place at the right time to intercept attacks and was always aware of the zones and men he needed to mark.

Casemiro

Rating 5.5/10

Casemiro never was and never will be a center back. Previous experiments with the Brazilian in the back-line have proved to be utterly disastrous, so it was a relief to see Casemiro play mildly poorly this time around. Despite some strong defensive numbers (6 clearances) and better composure under pressure, he still lumbered out of position to make unnecessary challenges (leading to 4 fouls) and twice allowed crosses to fly through the near-post zone of the six-yard box unopposed; the second of which resulted in the visitor’s goal.

To be clear, the blame never lies at Casemiro’s feet in these instances. It is up to Zidane to recognize the strengths of his players and match those strengths with the positions that best suits them. Perhaps the need to rest Varane and Ramos for the Bayern game forced his hand, but it’s clear that Casemiro cannot play as a central defender successfully.

Theo Hernández

Rating: 6/10

The Madrid left back showed similar industry and received the same number of touches (79) as Achraf, but was far less effective with his time on the ball. He only managed one cross and was dispossessed often with very little production in return. He was better on the defensive end - with several key aerial clearances and interceptions - but his inability to stop Amrabat on the goal hurts his rating.

Marcos Llorente

Rating: 7.5/10

Llorente completed a tidy performance in a role he was unfamiliar with. Used to playing as an anchor at Alavés, he was asked to push up as the more advanced midfielder in a double-pivot vs. Leganés. He didn’t look fully comfortable acting as a link between the lines - and as a result, often moved wide into the space behind Achraf - but he was clever with the ball at his feet and rarely lost possession.

Marcos Llorente’s heatmap vs. Leganés
whoscored.com

He was also intelligent with his defensive positioning and often times covered for Casemiro when the Brazilian pushed up to engage in brash challenges. All-in-all, it was a good day at the office for Llorente, even if he isn’t ever going to sparkle in these types of roles.

Mateo Kovačić

Rating: 9.5/10 (MOTM)

Mateo Kovačić was a tour de force in the 62 minutes he got vs. Los Legionarios. At ease playing anywhere in midfield, he showed off his ability to dictate the tempo of the game in a deep-lying playmaker role.

Mateo Kovačić’s heatmap vs. Leganés
whoscored.com

When his passing options were cut off, he simply danced around three to four Leganés players before bursting into open space with the acceleration and agility of a cheetah. Almost every positive Madrid action originated from Mateo’s boot and it was a shame to see him come off so early.

Gareth Bale

Rating: 8/10

The Welsh superstar looked joyous and involved playing in his natural position as a winger. He patrolled the right corridor with urgency and constantly acted as a deeper passing option to overload the press.

Bale’s heatmap vs. Leganés
whoscored.com

In the final third, Bale drove at his terrified markers and often cut inside to find runners on the far side of the pitch. He managed a team-high six shots and nabbed the opening goal of the game with an opportunistic effort in the 8th minute. He also contributed on the defensive end, as he logged 4 tackles and pressed with intensity. Like with Achraf, his impact faded in the second half as Real Madrid ceded control, but his efforts in the first half and his overall work-rate is enough to get him a good score.

Dani Ceballos

Rating: 7.5/10

Despite playing in an unnatural position - a left-midfielder in a 4-4-2 - Ceballos still managed to showcase his abilities thanks to his positional intelligence. He roamed freer than any of his teammates, but was able to keep Madrid’s formation stable by anchoring his movements around the left half space.

Ceballos’ heatmap vs. Leganés
whoscored.com

His 95 touches was a team-high and he displayed bravery with his constant attempts to unlock Leganés’ defense, but his final third execution let him down too often.

Borja Mayoral

Rating: 6.5/10

Mayoral pressed very hard and showed discipline in his defensive positioning, but his impact on offense was slight. Despite playing the full ninety, he only managed one more touch than strike-partner Benzema (who went off in the 61st minute) and struggled to act as a valid option in possession. Nevertheless, his sheer persistence did pay off, as he won the ball back high up the field for the first goal, and was at the right place at the right time to tap home the decider.

Karim Benzema

Rating: 7.5/10

Benzema was pulled early by Zidane, but he still made an impact with his seasoned off-the-ball movement and link play. Unlike Mayoral, he helped break Leganés’ press without a second thought and was instrumental in stringing attacks further up the field. He also pressed quite well and was committed in his defensive work. However, his inability to manage more than 1 shot and 1 key pass keeps his score in the average-fairly good range.

Substitutes

Toni Kroos

Rating: 6/10

The German machine was subbed on in the 61st minute and went on to put in an average performance. With Madrid’s tempo dead and the players unfocused, Kroos did his part in keeping his passes short and simple, but his tackle in the 74th minute was his only noteworthy moment.

Marco Asensio

Rating: 3/10

Asensio hardly made an impact even though he came on at the same time as Kroos. He managed a meager 9 touches and 8 passes and never got into the game. His rating would’ve been an “N/A” if he wasn’t given 30+ minutes to do something.


All statistics & heatmaps taken from whoscored.com

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