The Benito Villamarin played host to a crucial La Liga match between Betis and Real Madrid. A mountain of injuries and suspensions left Santiago Solari with a sparse squad, yet despite this, Isco Alarcon still could not find a spot in the team. Solari instead, changed the formation to a 3-5-2. Vinicius got the nod despite not training all week due to flu and Fede Valverde got his first Liga start over Ceballos and as mentioned, Isco. Betis dominated possession ( 70% vs 30%), but Madrid were lethal on the counter attack through Vinicius JR, especially in the first half. The second half was a slightly different story, Madrid sat even deeper after Karim Benzema had to come off through injury and Betis equalized. It would take an 88th minute free-kick from Dani Ceballos to earn the three points. It was not Madrid’s best showing, but they won all three points in the Benito Villamarin with the likes of Sergio Reguilón, Fede Valverde , Vinicius Jr, Brahim Diaz, and Cristo Gonzalez all getting opportunities to play.
Keylor Navas—6.5: The Costa Rican has not shown much rust since returning to the lineup for the injured Courtois. Was quick off his line and decent with his distribution. Betis had a lot of possession, but failed to put any of their opportunities on target, meaning Navas did not have a busy day at the office.
Dani Carvajal—7.5: Deployed in the right wing back role, Carvajal was tireless in his desire to win the game. He motored up and down the right flank all evening. Despite having limited options in front of him, he was composed in possession and took subtle touches that allowed him to fake out his defender and move forward up the pitch. Finished the match with 2 tackles, 2 clearances, and 3 interceptions.
Nacho—6: Overall Nacho had a very good game. One bad mark on his copy book, will be on the Betis equalizer. Both he and Varane should have tucked in centrally to cover Canales when Ramos pushed forward to apply pressure on Lo Celso. Otherwise, was very solid and had 4 tackles, 1 interception, and 7 clearances.
Raphael Varane—6: Quieter game from Varane, deployed as a central three in a five man back line. Should have tucked in with Nacho on the Betis equalizer.
Sergio Ramos—7: Madrid defended very deep so Ramos and co did a nice job of blocking off passing lanes and cutting down the space within 25 yards or so of the box. Ramos has a team high 10 clearances.
Sergio Reguilon—5.5: Up and down game from Reguilón— definitely tired as the match went on into the latter stages and was substituted in 73rd minute. Was deployed as the left wing back and in the first half often could be found very high up the pitch. Did register 2 key passes and 2 shots.
Casemiro—6: Still regaining match fitness and put in a much better performance than vs Sociedad. Won the free-kick which Ceballos dispatched late in the game.
Fede Valverde—6.5: First start for the 20 year old Uruguayan in La Liga. Was composed in possession and disciplined tactically. Found himself clear though on goal in the first half, and should have scored.
Luka Modric—7.5: One of Modric’s better games this season. Battled all night with Guardado and was the lynchpin between defense and the sparse attack. Scored a belter of an opening goal with his left foot. Also managed 2 key passes in the match.
Vinicius JR—8: Continues to be one of Madrid’s best players under Solari. His pace, energy, ingenuity, and overall ability to unsettle defenses makes him a crucial cog to the Madrid attack.
Karim Benzema—7: Was desperately missed after coming off at half time with a dislocated finger. Managed 3 key passes in his 45 minutes on the pitch. Was vital to Madrid’s counter attack.
Cristo Gonzalez—5.5: A decent showing for the Castilla striker he was thrown on at half time. Had a couple of nice passes and exhibited his confidence, but was a little bit disconnected to his teammates. Madrid sat even deeper in the second half and saw less of the ball, so Cristo’s influence was impacted. Only had 19 touches, but was able to produce 1 shot, 1 key pass, and a 100% pass accuracy from his 10 passes.
Dani Ceballos—8: Came on with a point to prove. Obviously would have loved to start against his former club in Seville, but channeled that frustration into a positive cameo. Had an 100% pass accuracy from his 9 passes and scored the game winning free kick in the 88th minute. Pure ice in his veins.
Brahim Diaz—5.5: Only has 9 minutes of action to show his stuff, but looked good in his limited minutes. His low center of gravity allows him to keep the ball ever so close and his quickness makes it so difficult to get the ball off of him.