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Player Ratings: Atheltic Bilbao 1 - Real Madrid 1; 2018 La Liga

Varane and Marcelo impress as Madrid drop points for the first time this season

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

A match away in the north of Spain to visit Athletic Bilbao is never an easy task. Lopetegui opted to rest Casemiro after the long trip back from North America with Ceballos occupying the vacant midfield position and Kroos sliding into defensive midfield. Courtois got the nod in goal while the formidable backline of Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, and Marcelo started after some

reports suggested Odriozola may get an opportunity. Berrizzo’s men came out with a clear game plan—an organized pressed which limited time on the touches on the ball for the likes of Modric, Ceballos, and Benzema. Madrid tried to play, but lacked the clinical finish to put Bilbao out of the game.

Thibaut Courtois—6: Does not look anywhere near as comfortable as Keylor with the ball at his feet, but made a couple of long distance shots from Bilbao look like child’s play. Not much he could do on the goal as both Muniain and Raul Garcia got ball side of Carvajal and Varane.

Dani Carvajal—6.5: Allowed Muniain to get ball side of him on Bilbao’s goal and lacked the usual accuracy in his crossing.

Raphael Varane—9: The best for Madrid on the night. His 1v1 defending was flawless and his speed to track down Inaki Williams was crucial. Won almost all of his aerial duels and commanded the backline.

Sergio Ramos—6: Bilbao presses high and Ramos astutely would pass and move into a midfield position where the striker, usually Inaki Williams, failed to track him. Found himself in advance positions and his passing was accurate throughout the match. Had a lapse in concentration on Bilbao’s opening goal, as he allowed De Marcos to slip in the half space between he and Marcelo.

Marcelo—8: His control and composure in tight spaces is second to none. Time and time again got himself out of a high press that seemed destined for him to cough up the ball. Bilbao had a strong collective block and strong press which made it difficult for Marcelo to break through the lines.

Kroos—6: In the first half, he operated as the defensive midfielder starting all of Madrid’s play. In the second half, Casemiro started and Kroos moved forward. With greater freedom, he was allowed to pick out Bale who found Isco on the equalizer. Bilbao’s press through the middle and their direct approach after winning the ball made it difficult for all of Madrid’s midfield.

Ceballos—6.5: Surprisingly yanked at halftime even though he was likely the best of the three central midfielders for Madrid. He had a few misplaced passes, but drew fouls on the counter with his elusive and quick touch.

Luka Modric—5: Not the best night for Luka Modric. Bilbao stifled the passing lanes through the middle and limited Luka’s involvement. Was substituted at the hour mark for Isco and still looks to have a bit of a World Cup hangover.

Marco Asensio—7: Played the full 90 minutes once again and was Madrid’s best attacker of the front three. His pace and direct dribbling were one of the few elements that could break down the Bilbao defense. Was dreadfully unlucky not to score the game-winner after making a great run to free himself 1v1, but Simon who was a monster all night, made the save.

Karim Benzema—6.5: Had the immensely difficult job of holding the ball up with aggressive center backs like Yeray and Martinez all over him. On occasion held the ball up well, but failed to do much else. A change for Mariano late in the game may have been the better call for Lopetegui.

Gareth Bale—6: A more subdued performance from Gareth. Still managed to rack up a great assist with his right foot, crossing the ball straight to Isco’s head, but offered little else.


Casemiro—7: Entered from the start of the second half to anchor the midfield. Found himself in advance positions quite often as Kroos and Modric dropped deep to get on the ball. Connected his passes well and won his aerial duels, but wasn’t enough to lead the team to victory.

Isco—7.5: Came in and scored the equalizer with his head moments later. He operated in the right central midfield role and was the best of the substitutions, he helped connect the team and pushed as hard as he could to get the game-winning goal.

Lucas Vazquez—6: The third and final substitution for Gareth Bale. Made no real impact and questions can be asked why Mariano was not given opportunity with Madrid a goal behind.

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