Results were kind to Real Madrid this weekend, and Real Madrid had been gifted an opportunity to regain that prestigious top spot at the summit of La Liga. Only a win would do, as a draw would leave them joint on points with Barcelona, but in second place due to an inferior goal difference. Los Blancos hosted Real Betis, a team that had a knack for causing trouble at the Bernabéu in recent times. Madrid managed to keep a clean-sheet, but could not score at the other end to capitalise despite their best efforts. But which players stood out during the 0-0 draw?
Thibaut Courtois — 7.5: It seems to be becoming quite common for Thibaut, but today he put in another faultless display to heavily contribute to the teams result. A lot of the Betis danger came through long ranged strikes, and Courtois was always there to acrobatically stop the lot. A man of the match candidate once again.
Dani Carvajal — 5.5: More of an off-day for Carvajal. He got forwards well as usual and contributed well to multiple attacking moves, but outside of these interactions he went very quiet.
Sergio Ramos — 6: Ramos was a lot less quiet, but he still looked wobbly defensively at times. He was typically adventurous and actually was involved in one of the team’s best chances towards the end, when he was millimetres away from connecting with the ball in-front of goal, and scoring the winner.
Raphaël Varane — 6: Varane looked on the whole stronger than Ramos in defence, but he still made some bizarre decisions that could have created problems on another day. Slow communication with Carvajal at one stage and some panic clearances during others added to a tense atmosphere - but the majority of the time, not much was getting past him.
Ferland Mendy — 7: One of Mendy’s better performances in a Madrid shirt so far, but it could have meant a lot more. He was quick to burst through and pick up the ball one on one with the keeper, but could only hit the side netting much to the despair of the home crowd. He still was the best defender, and one of the top players on the pitch, anyway.
Casemiro — 5: This was one game in which I barely noticed Casemiro and his effect on the game, and that was even before he picked up a yellow card.
Toni Kroos — 6.5: Saw a lot of the ball in the first half, and used it well. As the clock ticked on, things started to happen around him rather than through him. Looked to shoot when picking the ball up late on, which did create an element of danger for Madrid, but to no real reward.
Luka Modrić — 6.5: At times Luka looked as good as new on the ball, flying past opponents like a care-free Brazilian teenager. Much like Kroos, the Croations influence faded as the game went on. It appears that his days as a consistent starter at Real Madrid are at risk.
Eden Hazard — 7: This mans influence is only growing, no matter how gradually. He scored a fantastic goal after beating two players and finishing from a tight angle - only to have it all brought back for being offside by a shoulder hair. He was on the same page as his teammates and looked amongst the most dangerous attackers in a game destined for a goalless draw.
Rodrygo Goes — 6: Another game filled with positive activity from Rodrygo, who looks a perfect fit for La Liga. He was again heavily involved, and always looked to make things happen with the ball. He was taken off for Vinícius Júnior during the 65th minute.
Karim Benzema — 7: No goal, but Karim led the front-line well, and made everything tick between him and his colleagues in a way that we have become so used to. He was eventually replaced by Jović for Real Madrid’s final change.
Vinicius Junior — 6: A flash of Vinícius from last season, as he was heavily involved after coming on. Sure, plenty of his decisions still went wrong, but he kept on chipping away and gave Betis real worry until the very last seconds. He could have restored his adoration after taking the ball down expertly in-front of goal, but the Betis keeper reacted well to pounce on the ball and take the chance away.
Luka Jović: Came on with about ten minutes to go. Didn’t impose himself on the game enough to earn any rating.
Not quite mission accomplished, then. Still, Madrid go joint on points with Barcelona at the top after the Catalans suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at the hands of Levante (partly due to Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral’s excellent goal). With the team back in action on Wednesday in the Champions League against Galatasary, it’s time to move on and focus fully on the next task at hand. What did you think about the game?