Madrid were gleaming, not in white but in mint green. The third kit, a green which is more closely correlated with Brazil than Madrid, maybe influenced Zidane’s decision to roll out both teenage Brazilian wingers, Vinicius JR and Rodrygo, both formed as part of the same starting XI. Overall, there were 6 changes from the side that defeated Alaves with Isco, Bale, Modric, Marcelo, Militao, and Areola all missing out due to injury or a coaches decision. It was two French players that helped earn the win for Madrid with Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema grabbing the goals. Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—7: Made a game-changing save vs a point-blank Esteban Granero header in the first half. Kept another clean sheet and his confidence should continue to grow.
Dani Carvajal—6: Was a constant companion to Rodrygo down the right and did fairly well to dribble or pass out of Espanyol’s high press.
Raphael Varane—8.5: Scored Madrid’s first goal with a left foot finish that Raul would have been proud to have scored. Was equally as impressive in the back, with 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 3 clearances.
Sergio Ramos—7.5: Tied with a team high 4 tackles and brought a team high of 4 clearances. Ramos was a rock at the back. Wu Lei and Calleri were completely nullified by the captain.
Ferland Mendy—4.5: Was decent defensively, but failed to contribute in the final third. Went in recklessly for his second yellow card and now will be missing at the Mestalla.
Casemiro—6.5: The Brazilian, despite the heavy minutes, continues to produce consistent performances. A few moments where he was caught in possession, but the pros outwiegh the cons with Case and his 4 tackles were instrumental to Real Madrid’s success.
Toni Kroos—7: Espanyol had no answer to Toni, except to foul him. Ended up being the most fouled (4) player in the game. His passing, particularly the connection between himself, Ramos, and Valverde helped the team build out vs Espanyol’s press.
Fede Valverde—7.5: Game after game, week after week - the Uruguayan brings everything he’s got. Remarkably consistent for a 21-year-old. Produced a great assist for Benzema after he and the Frenchman linked up twice within the box.
Rodrygo—6: Has formed a strong chemistry with Carvajal down the right. Showed off glimpses of his impressive skill and exquisite technique, but wasn’t as involved as he would have like to have been in this match.
Vinicius JR—8: The Brazilian was an X-Factor for Real Madrid. His explosive speed and unpredictability caused Espanyol countless problems. Still some decision making issues, but overall improved in that area as compared to other matches this season. Had 4 shots and 4 key passes, and was unlucky not to grab an assist.
Karim Benzema—8.5: King Karim continues his production streak. The Pichichi now has 11 goals in La Liga and also notched an assist to Varane, pushing his total to 5 assists in the league. Of his 4 shots 3 were on target and he produced 6 key passes!
Luka Modric—5.5: Moved about the pitch looking to get the ball and quickly move it to the next teammate.
Eder Militao—6: Solid when he entered the match for the dismissed Mendy. Played out of position at left back, but did a job to see out the game with 0 goals conceded.
Brahim—N/A: Only had 3 touches and was fouled during the one sequence where he had possession of the ball.