The opening 45 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu for Saturday afternoon’s match was tough viewing for Madrid fans. The team in white failed to create any real danger as Eibar looked to suffocate Madrid with their high press. Eibar’s pressure was rewarded, as they scored a deserved go-ahead goal before half. Zidane had to re-motivate his side at halftime and make some crucial tactical tweaks: swapping that flanks that Asensio and Bale played on, pushing the defensive line higher and asking both Varane and Nacho to be aggressive on stepping out, and then also shifting Modric slightly deeper to provide more support for Valverde and Odriozola. Those changes coupled with an uptick in intensity saw Madrid produce a far better second half — they had 7 shots on target compared to 0 in the first half. Karim Benzema would score two goals—each with his head— to complete the comeback for Madrid. Full Match Ratings Below:
Keylor Navas—4.5: Not a great performance from the Tico — misread a couple of simple crosses in the first half, and misplaced a number of passes (intercepted passes to Odriozola) and wayward long balls, specifically to Gareth Bale.
Alvaro Odriozola—7: Has been one of the few consistently good players under Zidane. Had a team high of 5 tackles and motored down the right flank to get 4 crosses in this match.
Raphael Varane—7: A solid performance from the Frenchman especially in the second half where he was vital in pushing the defensive line higher up the pitch. Used his physical attributes well and finished the match with an astounding 10 clearances and 5 aerial duels won.
Nacho—5: A quiet game from Nacho with very little note-worthy moments. That said, did well in the second half to step out aggressively and keep Eibar locked in their half.
Sergio Reguilón—6: One of the better performances in the first half, but his score is marred by one moment. The youngster switched off on Eibar’s goal and allowed Cardona to slip in behind him to tuck away his goal. Aside from that, looked composed in possession and contributed with 3 tackles defensively.
Fede Valverde—7.5: A statement performance from Fede, who once again proved he is worthy of more minutes. His press-resistant nature was crucial in the single pivot role as Eibar’s press likely would’ve feasted on Casemiro heavier touch. Plays with a composure similar to Kroos, in that nothing rattles the Uruguayan. Contributed with 4 tackles, 3 interceptions, 50 passes (88% PA), and 1 completed dribble.
Luka Modric—5: A match to forget for Luka Modric who failed to really impose himself in midfield. Looked physically exhausted in the second half before being substituted in the 75th minute for Toni Kroos.
Isco—7: A good shift from El Mago. Created the few dangerous moments Madrid had in the first half with his incisive passes to breakthrough Eibar’s high line. Zidane continues to put him in a central role, where he looks most comfortable. Had 2 key passes and was fouled a resounding 8 times in this match.
Marco Asensio—7.5: Very quiet in the first half, where if the match were to end he likely would have earned a 4 or 5 rating. In the second half, Zidane had Asensio and Bale switch flanks, with Marco moving to the right and it paid immediate dividends. Asensio was far more involved and active. It was an assist, with his right foot, to Karim Benzema that opened the scoring for Los Blancos.
Gareth Bale—4.5: Consistency, that’s what Madrid fans want from Gareth Bale, but it’s something he has rarely been able to provide. It was another forgetful performance with little to note.
Karim Benzema—8: Scored his 25th and 26th goals of the season to help secure a comeback and keep the 3 points with Madrid. In a dark season, Karim Benzema has stepped up and been one of the few bright spots. Though, the Frenchman had countless opportunities near the end of the match to complete his hat trick and will be disappointed not to go home with a signed match ball.
Toni Kroos—7.5: Couldn’t ask for a better 15 minutes from Toni Kroos. Earned the assist on the game-winning goal after receiving the ball back on a short corner. Contributed 2 key passes, and had 22 passes total with a 95% pass accuracy.
Lucas Vazquez—7: Another substitution that helped inject further life into Madrid’s comeback. Lucas was lively and interestingly enough, stationed on the left flank. In his 15 minutes, he had 3 key passes— a team high.
Brahim Diaz—N/A: Entered the match in the 90th minute.