El Clasico, a game unlike any other. This particular Clasico was heated. Not since the Pep vs Mourinho era had we seen such a tense contest. Through all the emotions, Hernandez Hernandez—the referee on the night—lost the plot (much like he did in last years Clasico). Despite the controversy, Madrid should have capitalized on their opportunities. It will feel like points lost, but an encouraging performance from many players heading into the final games of the season.
Our starting XI for the Clásico!#RMMovistar | #RMClasico pic.twitter.com/zGJDMz4QJf— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) May 6, 2018
Keylor Navas—9: The Costa Rican’s good run of form continued into the Clasico. Made two crucial saves on Messi when the Argentine was through on goal. Keylor came up big when his team needed him most.
Nacho—6.5: The former Canterano was solid defensively and stuck to his task. Had little impact on the offensive end of the pitch and was substituted for Lucas Vazquez to add more dynamism to the Madrid attack as they searched for a late winner.
Raphael Varane—8: Another solid performance from the Frenchman; cool and composed as always. Clearly was fouled by Luis Suarez before Lionel Messi tucked home his second goal.
Sergio Ramos—7: Barcelona and in particular Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi did all they could to unnerve the captain. The game was a fiery encounter with Ramos involved in many confrontations. Despite the tension, Ramos made some vital tackles and put in a decent defensive shift.
Marcelo—6: Goals have been leaking from Madrid’s left side of the pitch all season. In the last few bug encounters, Marcelo has not been the main culprit. Tonight would be different. Allowed Sergi Roberto to glide past him with ease and failed to track the runner with any sense of urgency. Jurgen Klopp will certainty take note. Improved in the second half as Madrid were on the attack and switched to a 3-5-2 late in the game.
Casemiro—8.5: Casemiro was back to his best in a three-man central midfield pairing. He was crucial in transition to stopping Barcelona’s attack and sticking to his “stop-gap” role. He won the ball seven times, and had two interceptions.
Modric—8: Great performance from Modric who was able to have a greater influence on the Madrid attack from a more central role as Gareth was placed on the right flank. Always does the dirty work and then becomes the maestro, orchestrating Madrid’s next attack. He and Kroos were fundamental to any success Madrid had on the night.
Kroos—8: A key driver in the Madrid attack. His impact on the first goal cannot be understated. Help start the play from Madrid’s box and then drove through the midfield laying the pass on to Ronaldo, and then overlapped the Portuguese to deliver a great left footed clipped cross to Benzema for Ronaldo to then latch on again and tuck home.
Bale—8.5: Relatively quiet first half where the Welshman had to put in a tremendous amount of defensive work to limit Jordi Alba’s influence. He was lucky not to be sent off for a bad foul on Umtiti. Took on the “alpha-male” role in the second half and scored a belter to equalize for Madrid. Proved once again that he can produce on both ends of the pitch.
Benzema—8.5: Intelligently nodded the ball across goal for Ronaldo to tuck home his goal; most strikers probably would have gone for goal. Combined well with his teammates and retained possession with his back to goal and under strong pressure from the likes of Pique and Umtiti. Rounding into his best form of the year in the final month of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo—8: Ronaldo was instrumental to the Madrid attack. At times, reverted back to his left winger role and gave countless headaches to Sergi Roberto and Pique. Took his goal superbly well, starting the play by coming in from the left, feeding Kroos with a back heel, and then made his way into the box by following the play and tucked home his goal. Unfortunately, had to be substituted at half after sustaining an ankle injury.
Marco Asensio—7: The youngster had a moment of magic with his assist to Gareth Bale. Faked like he was looking one way and sliced the ball into Bale’s path which was the opposite direction. Was direct in his play and his role grew as the match wore on.
Lucas Vazquez—6: Came on for Nacho as Madrid switched to a 3-5-2 and looked to add more dynamism to their attack. Was lively, but failed to produce a meaningful impact.
Mateo Kovacic—7: Replaced Toni Kroos and was given ten minutes to try and salvage a win for Madrid. The Croatian had a brilliantly timed slide tackle on Messi to win back possession and helped provide urgency to the Madrid attack.
Zinedine Zidane—6.5: It was a strange game with multiple phases. The first ten minutes, Madrid were awful. The midfield looked lethargic and late to challenges, while the defensive shape was all over the place. Tracking off the ball runners should have been Zidane’s number one priority after the Bayern matches, but yet again Madrid were caught out on the left flank. Though, in the latter stages of the first half saw Madrid dominate. They were cool and calm in possession and slung a couple of through balls which normally would have seen Cristiano score and the team go into half time by a one or two goal lead. A slow start to the second half and a kamikaze like attacking approach meant Barcelona and Messi could counter with ease. Zidane’s change to a 3-5-2 was smart and helped Madrid better control the game and mount more organized attacks.