A Real Madrid debut with interesting cameos in the “Era of Lopetegui”. Madrid ultimately lost the game, but there were many standout performance including Vinicius Junior, Odriozola, Fede Valverde, Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos, and Sergio Reguilon among others:
Kiko Casilla—3: Proving again that he is not at the level required for Madrid. Erratic and nervous when the ball was played to his feet and on multiple occasions passed the ball out of bounds.
Alvaro Odriozola—8: The match gave us a glimpse into the oh-so-tasty Bale and Odriozola duo. Combined early on with a blazing overlap from the young Spaniard whose cross found Benzema, the Frenchman ultimately failing with the finish. His dynamism and speed will be a serious weapon down the right flank.
Jesus Vallejo—5: The center-back tandem of Vallejo and Sanchez struggled. Alexis turned young Vallejo early in the game as he overcommitted on the challenge and the Spaniard was forced to give away a blatant foul. Again it was Alexis who managed to get that step ahead of Vallejo inside the box to slot home Manchester’s first goal. The trio of Fred, Mata, and Alexis caused serious problems for Madrid’s center back pairing. On a positive note, Vallejo was assured and composed in possession as is usually the case.
Javi Sanchez—4: the Canterano was very much out of his depth. Was drawn out of position time and time again and the Manchester attack exploited the space on nearly every occasion. On the second Manchester goal, Mata forced Sanchez out of the back four and slipped in behind to lead the charge for another United goal.
Theo—6: The youngsters touch was improved in comparison to last season and he had a few attacking runs that were reminiscent of his Alaves days. Though defensively, he switched off on a throw in and Darmian slinged his cross through for Alexis to dispatch in the net. His confidence visibly plummets when he makes a mistake—can he grow resilient mentally? That will be the test for him as he grows in the game.
Marcos Llorente—8.5: A solid outing from Marcos playing in his preferred role as a single defensive pivot. Some of Lopetegui’s influence was already apparent as Llorente dropped deep, often between the two center backs, to get on the ball and begin distributing. On a number of occasions, he proved his off-season strength training paid off as he held off various United players to move possession forward.
Fede Valverde—8.5: Fede Valverde seems to have Kroos-like composure. The Uruguayan was press resistant and assured in possession. He was certainly one that caught the eye. A good loan will be crucial this year.
Dani Ceballos—8: Glides across the pitch and look like he is playing with a point to prove. He was the metronome of the midfield and looked to break through United defensive shape with incisive passing.
Vinicius Junior—7: The Brazilian showed moments of brilliance which gave a glimpse into his potential. When isolated 1v1 on the left flank, he attacks the defender—driving with speed and on one instance produced a number of step-overs leaving his opponent for dead and putting in a dangerous cross. Played 60 minutes in total and was lively and full of confidence—there is no doubt that this young man’s ceiling is high. Patience will be key. His performance was quieter when stationed on the right side of a midfield four.
Karim Benzema—6.5: Captained the side and nabbed a goal late in the first half. Looked to provide a link to the midfield and shepard Madrid’s younger players into the game. Missed a golden opportunity after Bale and Odriozola combined down the right, but would go home with a goal.
Gareth Bale—7: Grew into the match and grew into his role as the main attacking threat. Combined well with Odriozola, sprayed cross field passes to release Vinicius and Ceballos, and ripped a shot just over the crossbar.
Andriy Lunin—6:A more confident display with his feet as opposed to Casilla. Was not tested at all as Madrid took the game to United in the second half in search of an equalizer.
Martin Odeegard—4: Missed a golden opportunity to put Madrid level. Found a ton of space inside the 18 and the ball was laid on a plate, but lifted it far too high. Caught in possession and out muscled when trying to move the Madrid attack forward. Had a few nice flicks, but ultimately did not impress. Only played about 30 minutes as he was substituted for Isco.
Borja Mayoral—4.5: Produced an early shot which had De Gea stretching to save. Missed a brilliant opportunity late in the match after Asensio’s fantastic whipped in cross. Failed to really make a case for himself as a second string striker.
Sergio Reguilon—8: First glimpses of this young player for many and he impressed. Was stationed at left back for Theo after the break and got up and down the flank consistently. A technical and intelligent young fullback. Laid the ball on platter for Odeegard after overlapping Vinicius. His work-rate is second to none and was determined to make a good impression.
Raul De Tomas—6.5: Superb with his off the ball movement. Looks to be a nuisance for the opposition defense. Got in a few dangerous positions, but not enough to nab a goal.
Oscar—3: Dispossessed in dangerous positions and failed to make any real impact. Will need to get out of the clutches of Santiago Solari to see his career progress.
Sergio Lopez—5.5: Definite drop off offensively when Odriozola came off. Misplaced a couple of passed and looked tainted by the opposition.
Isco—6.5: A few nice touches and a clipped in through ball for RDT to flash across goal. The level immediately went up after Isco, Kroos, Nacho, and Asensio’s introductions.
Nacho—6.5: Came on and captained the side for the final twenty minutes. Was not tested at all as Madrid was on the front-foot for most of the second half in search of another goal.
Asensio—7: Active and involved for the 20
minutes he was on the pitch. Produced a fantastic left footed whipped cross for Borja Mayoral and Raul De Tomas, who both seemed to get in each others way. Marco drew fouls and drove at the opposition.
Kroos—7: Only played twenty minutes , but took control of the pitch as soon as he entered. In typical Kroos fashion, everything went through him and his passes were inch-perfect.