Real Madrid managed to grind yet another three points, this time against the ever so direct Levante. After a first half from Los Blancos that was not dominant but featured some good pressing sequences, the second half saw Levante take control of the final half hour of the game, which required a couple of Courtois interventions to keep the scoreline in Real’s favor. Regardless, Real takes the victory and one can only hope, as Zidane said, that next time Tibo suffers a bit less.
See player ratings below.
Thibaut Courtois—9: We’re starting to run out of words to describe our appreciation for this man. Time after time in 2020 Tibo has proved to be one of they key point-winners for Los Blancos and he once again did it against Levante with four saves. Particularly noteworthy were the 60th minute save where he used his leg to stop a shot from Enis Bardhi that was deflected, and the 77th minute intervention where he successfully anticipated and blocked Carlos Clerc’s shot inside the box.
Nacho —5.5: It’s clear that Nacho struggles on the defensive side of things more than before. Vukčević’s 30th minute header that hit the post, for example, came from an aerial duel that he won against Nacho and. And as years and injuries accumulate, it’s also harder for Nacho to make the kind of deep runs required of a fullback.
Raphael Varane—6.5: Another normal day at the office for Varane, with minimal defensive mistakes and putting a few fires with outstanding athleticism and defensive timing. And he had more work to do towards the end of the game as Real’s defensive structure collapsed and he was forced to do more last-ditch interventions.
Sergio Ramos—6.5: Another day in the office for the captain, too. In the offense, he continued to be a vital part of the team’s buildup phase and he almost managed to score one of this trademark headers in a goal that was ultimately disallowed. In defense, it’s clear he cannot cover ground as much as before, but fortunately that’s what Mendy, Varane and Casemiro are for.
Mendy—7.5: After a sober first season where Mendy stood out mostly from a defensive standpoint, this season the French left back is determined to show his full attacking flair. Against Levante, Mendy showed once again his diverse set of skills: two-footedness, running behind Levante’s defense, ball carrying, and operating on the inside lanes—almost as a midfielder—during the buildup phase. We’re going to have a lot of fun with Mendy this year, folks.
Casemiro—6: Another quiet performance from Casemiro, but he’s always there to put out fires when needed. Real had several good pressing phases throughout the game, and whenever Levante managed to overcome the press, Casemiro and Varane were often ready to abort the incoming attacks. But towards the end of the game, Real’s defensive structure deteriorated to such a degree that even Casemiro ended up being overrun.
Fede Valverde—6: Not the most influential afternoon for the Uruguayan midfielder—particularly in the final third—but the team will always appreciate his work rate (four tackles, three interceptions) and dynamism. The fact that Nacho was his right back partner today instead of Carvajal or Odriozola probably affected his ability to contribute more in the offense.
Luka Modric—8: It’s hard not to be wowed watching his small 35-year-old frame still winning dribbles and tackles against opponents. Modrić is slower than ever, but he still gets to cover a lot of ground. When Real didn’t have the ball, he pressed all the way to Levante’s center backs, and one of those pressures led to Benzema’s 50th minute post! When Real had the ball, he moved beside the center backs to help in the buildup phase. And when the team made it to the opposition half, his creativity and clarity allowed his teammates to get into scoring and assisting positions. Three keys passes, two completed dribbles, three interceptions, two tackles, 89 per cent pass completion. All in all, another complete performance from the Croatian midfield maestro.
Asensio—6.5: When it came to passing, ball control, and dribbling, Asensio was as incisive and productive as ever. His combinations with Nacho, Valverde and Modrić moved the team forward and created good chances for his teammates (3 key passes), including the big chance that Vinicius failed to score in the 52nd minute. Despite these promising signs, it would be nice to see him do more aggressive movements without the ball as well as get into shooting positions more frequently (0 shots for him today).
Karim Benzema—7: Another day in the office, not his best, not his worst. It’s hard to imagine Real Madrid’s attack without Benzema and Zidane certainly can’t imagine it either given how rarely he allows Benzema to rest. Against Levante Karim delivered the usual goods with three shots throughout the game, one key pass, and smart movement across the pitch to connect teammates. It looked like he would go without scoring for yet another game, but at the very end he got a well-deserved goal.
Vinicius—6: His exquisite finish in that first goal masked a rather lackluster game where he barely attempted to dribble past opponents (only 1 dribble attempted). Levante tend to create the kind of direct, high tempo games where Vinicius’ dribbling usually thrives but that was not the case today. However, his aggressive movements always allow him to get into the box and into shooting positions, and that’s exactly what Real’s offense needs the most. And in usual Vinicius fashion, he scored arguably the hardest chance while struggling with the “easier“ chances...
Rodrygo—6.5: Subbed in the 69th minute. It’s always nice to see Rodrygo play on his preferred left side, where he’s usually more willing to shoot and go for the 1v1. He did not manage to get a shot off this time around but his incisive through ball led to Benzema’s injury time goal.
Lucas Vazquez—5: Subbed in at the 69th minute. Apart from the occasional cross, it’s always hard for Lucas to have a significant offensive impact these days, and it’s getting hard to even justify his defensive impact, too.
Isco—N/A: Subbed in at the 89th minute.
Ødegaard—N/A : Subbed in at the 89th minute. He’s not in his best form right now, but let’s hope Zidane doesn’t lose faith in him.