Three crucial points were secured after Real Madrid defeated Inter Milan by a score of 3-2 at the Alfredo Di Stefano tonight. Zidane’s team simply had to win to increase their chances of progressing to the next round of the competition. With that in mind, Zidane rolled out what seems to be his preferred XI - a front three of Hazard, Benzema, Asensio, a midfield without Modric, and a backline with Mendy and Lucas Vazquez as the fullbacks. After a thrilling first half - a half played at breakneck speed, filled with plenty of tactical sub-plots, physicality, and a lot of fun 1 v 1 battles - the second half proved to be more subdued. Despite Madrid surrendering their two goal lead, they secured a late victory thanks to the exploits of Brazilian super subs, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes, combining for the winner.
Full match ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6.5: Faced three shots on target, but was only able to manage one save. That one save was crucial, early in the game Courtois denied Lautaro Martinez and kept the scoreline at zero’s. Heavily involved in the build out from the back with 61 touches and 37 passes.
Lucas Vazquez—8: A constant outlet on the right wing, the makeshift wingback impeccably brought down any cross-field switches from Ramos, Kroos, or Mendy. Not only was he an outlet, but the production was there too — 3 key passes, 1 completed dribble, and a cheeky toe poke at the top of the box that just flashed wide of the goal.
Raphael Varane—6.5: Will get some flack for his slow reaction to Lautaro Martinez’s goal, but was otherwise good. His composure playing out of the back is essential to Real Madrid’s ability to play through a high press. On the defensive side, he won all of his ground duels (3), all of his aerial duels (1), and had a team high of 6 interceptions.
Sergio Ramos— 7.5: Broke free of his mark on a corner and connected perfectly with Toni Kroos’ delivery. Goal number 100 for Sergio Ramos in his career.
Ferland Mendy— 7.5: Another statement match from the Frenchman. He uses his physical tools and comfort with both feet to play out of a press. In the second half, Mendy was instrumental in retaining possession and helping Madrid out of tough situations.
Fede Valverde— 8.5: The Uruguayan was like a man possessed - he was everywhere. Pressing and winning the ball high, back-tracking for out of position teammates, and progressing the ball through Inter’s lines — including on the game-winning goal. Fede has become one of the first names on the team sheet.
Casemiro — 3: A night to forget for the Brazilian. Lost possession 18 times, which included bizarre attempts on goal and wayward long passes.
Toni Kroos — 6: Very strong first half, where the German nabbed an assist from a corner kick and ran tirelessly alongside Fede Valverde. His influence waned in the second half and was replaced by Luka Modric.
Marco Asensio— 4.5: Failed to make the impact expected from Real Madrid’s right winger. The lowest touches of any of the outfield starters, including Thibaut Courtois.
Karim Benzema—7: Capitalized on Achraf Hakimi’s mistake to open the scoring for Real Madrid. Should have scored another goal in the final stages of the second half, but the ball ricochet off his legs.
Eden Hazard— 5.5: A few good moments of Hazard gliding past opponent's (including 3 completed dribbles), but he was quickly fouled by Inter Milan. The fast paced nature of the first half was probably a rhythm his not yet ready for given his abrupt return to the starting eleven.
Vinicius Jr.— 7.5: Exactly what you want from a substitution, came on and immediately tormented Inter’s right flank with blistering runs in behind. It was one such run that produced the game-winning assist for his young compatriot and fellow substitute, Rodrygo Goes, to smash home.
Rodrygo— 7.5: Scored the game winning goal, once again exuding confidence and composure well beyond his years. Now has 5 goals and 3 assists in 8 Champions League matches.
Luka Modric—7.5: Each time the Croatian comes on as a substitute, he provides the control and fluidity the game was lacking.