Tonight was a historic game at the Alfredo Di Stefano, but not for Real Madrid, who lost their first match this La Liga season (breaking a 15 game unbeaten streak) against newly-promoted Cadiz, 0-1.
The performance was a few things: sloppy, unconvincing, lack of energy, and full of confusion amongst the players. This led to Zinedine Zidane making four, yes four, subs at halftime.
As players return from international duty, they usually see a dip in form at club level. But this was disastrous. And with two UEFA Champions Leagues games plus El Clásico in the next 10 days, Madrid should be concerned.
See player ratings below.
Thibaut Courtois—6.75: Had work to do in the first half and couldn’t keep a clean sheet in the end. Big mistake just before the break, lucky nothing came of it. One of the stronger players of the night if that gives you any indication how this game went.
Nacho —5.25: Couldn’t get out of his area throughout the first 45 minutes thanks to Cadiz’s shape, little impact. Second half saw him find space to push up in attack and tried to link up with Benzema well but no goals to show for it. One aerial duel and one tackle.
Raphael Varane—6.5: Fair performance from the Frenchman. Left by himself to defend against Lozano’s goal. Even put in some offensive work towards the end. Finished with six aerial duels, one tackles and one shot.
Sergio Ramos—5: Had a very important goal line clearance in the second minute. Caught out of position for Lozano’s goal. Had difficulty adjusting to Cadiz’s two striker set up. Lucky not to get a red card. Subbed at half as a precaution for the knock to his knee.
Marcelo—5: Like Nacho, couldn’t get out of his area but eventually had some good runs towards the end of the match. Tried to link up with Vini Jr. along the wing but wasn’t successful. Sometimes in the box but often a step behind the play. Only 79 per cent pass rate.
Toni Kroos—5.75: Back in the squad after being injured for a while. Two shots in the first half but neither were anywhere near the net. Had very uncharacteristic misplaced passing. Subbed off after 78 minutes ending with two dribbles and one aerial duel.
Isco—5: Not connected with the squad at all and left on his own when trying to spark anything in attack. Lots of misplaced passes but completed four dribbles. Subbed off at halftime.
Luka Modric—4: Also out at halftime with a poor performance. Couldn’t connect with Kroos or Isco or get the team moving forward. Another player with lots of misplaced passing and was dispossessed twice.
Lucas Vazquez—4: Tried his best to have an impact but was very isolated along the wings. Anytime he had open space, his crosses into the box couldn’t find anybody. Off at halftime.
Karim Benzema—5.75: Looked out of touch with the team in the first half and barely touched the ball. Didn’t get into the game until after Jovic came on (77 mins). Assisted the Serbian international for an eventually offside goal and hit the cross moments later. Need a lot more from the No. 9.
Vini Jr.—5: Sloppy passing in the first half and couldn’t position himself properly on the pitch. Made a few good runs but couldn’t connect with any teammates. Four shots, one good header attempt and two dribbles but nothing too note worthy. However, he did try to get the team moving forward.
Eder Militao - 6.5 - On at half for Ramos. Strong individual performance from the Brazilian, which is nice to see pending on what happens with the captain. Looked very confident and helped keep the scoreline down when Cadiz pushed forward. Finished with five interceptions, two tackles, two blocks, one aerial and one clearance.
Casemiro - 7: Another example that Casemiro needs to start every game. Madrid look unorganized and so confused without the Brazilian on the pitch. Came on at halftime for Modric and instantly commanded action. Was key in getting the ball into the box for his teammates, even went in himself as well. Best player tonight.
Valverde: 6 Had a few good interceptions of the ball and used his speed to move the team forward after coming on at halftime for Isco. Was dispossessed three times, though. Not bad coming on as a sub.
Marco Asensio - 5.75: On at half for Vazquez. Started off strong and helped spread the team out wide to create space, dragging defenders with him (an Asensio specialty). Made decent runs into the box and tried to earn a penalty but for the most part stuck to the wing. Lost energy after a while.
Luka Jovic - 5: Came on after 78 minutes to find the tying goal for the team and he thought he did but the attempt was (rightfully) ruled offside. Besides that one attempt, he didn’t bring much to the game. Needs to unlock his goal scoring abilities soon...