The big question for Real Madrid supporters leading into the match was how Zidane would line-up given all the injuries. Luka Jovic (Covid) and Karim Benzema (adductor injury) were unavailable, Casemiro (Covid) and Valverde (fractured fibula) — two stalwarts for the middle of midfield — were missing, and Sergio Ramos (hamstring strain) as well as Eder Militao (Covid) were both out for the center of the defense. The recently recuperated Martin Odegaard and Eden Hazard did form as part of the starting XI and Mariano started up front for the first time in over a year and a half.
It was an up and down game for which Madrid controlled the opening 20 minutes, including scoring the opening goal through a Mariano diving header, but Villarreal bounced back in the second half and secured a deserved point. Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6: With each passing game, is more and more involved with the ball at his feet. Had a few, “heart-in-mouth” moments, with central passes to Kroos, but otherwise did well with his distribution. Did give away the penalty on Chukwueze for the Villarreal equalizer which Gerard Moreno dispatched with ease.
Dani Carvajal—7: The right back showed exemplary fitness levels to come back from a two-month injury and play at 90 minutes at such a high level. Kept Pedraza in his back-pocket and produced an inch-perfect assist for Mariano in the opening minute of the game.
Raphael Varane—7: Stepped up as captain in Sergio Ramos’ absence. Timed a few crucial interceptions, including a late tackle on Gerard Moreno, in the second half to deny a goal scoring opportunity.
Nacho—7: Aside from the 2018/2019 season, Nacho has historically played well stepping in for Ramos at the left center back position. Today was no different. Three interceptions, two blocked shots, and one clearance. Given Militao’s appearances in place of Sergio Ramos, there may be a case that Nacho should be the third choice center back.
Ferland Mendy—6.5: A good battle all game-long with Gerard Moreno. The Frenchman tracked his every movement and followed the striker turned psuedo right-winger into central positions to snuff out counter attacks. Connected well with Hazard, Kroos, and Odegaard down the left, but had a few heavy touches and gave away possession 17 times.
Toni Kroos—8: The German was at his absolute best in the first half, playing in a quarter back role. He sprayed passes left and right, switching the field of play and orchestrating the first goal. Formed a good connection with Odegaard and gave the team total control. Fatigue and a break down in Madrid’s press as well as improvement in Villarreal’s press, meant Kroos and the whole of the team fell off in the second half.
Luka Modric—6: Strange game from the Croatian, he wasn’t poor, but wasn’t at his best either. Had some good dribbling sequences to get out of pressure, but also had some uncharacteristically poor passes.
Martin Odegaard—6.5: Enjoyed himself in the first half, with quick touches and good movement as the most advanced midfielder. Produced some accurate long balls to switch the field of play from the right to Mendy on the left. But, his main role is to help with the offensive curation and failed to produce a key pass nor help the team get more than one shot on target.
Eden Hazard—4.5: Struggled to get involved in the match and to stamp his authority on the game. Only attempted two dribbles, with one being successful. Had 0 key passes and 0 shots.
Lucas Vazquez—5.5: His off ball effort and movement in the defensive phase of the game was impeccable in the first half, but waned in the second. Mariano cut the ball back to the winger on more than one occasion with his shots failing to hit the target. Struggled once Pervis Estupinian entered the match.
Mariano—8: What more can you ask from Mariano? Gets one golden opportunity and takes his chance. His effort, commitment, and desire are never in question.
Vinicius JR—4: A very poor showing from the Brazilian. It was his pass that was cut out when Madrid were looking to capitalize on a counter attack. That mistake then immediately led to Villarreal conducting their own counter-attack and earning the penalty which would give them their equalizer. His passing overall in the final third was poor and he did not bring the dynamic or precision required to help Madrid.
Isco—5.5: Like for like change for Martin Odegaard. Isco was a good option to get out of Villarreal’s press, but the rest of the midfield was getting overrun and an option like Valverde or Casemiro was badly needed rather than Isco.
Marco Asensio—N/A: Entered the match in the final 5 minutes for Mariano.