After a week’s preparation, Real Madrid met Celta Vigo in the Santiago Bernabeu for the final match of week 24 in La Liga. Zidane played a traditional 4-3-3, opting for Marcelo over Mendy, Valverde in midfield with Modric on the bench, and the biggest surprise of them all – Eden Hazard starting on the left wing with both Vinicius and Isco on the bench. It would be Celta who were quickest out of the gates. Iago Aspas found a pocket of space between a completely out of shape back-four and threaded a pass between Varane and Carvajal for the Russian, Smolov, who converted the opportunity. From there, Celta Vigo sat in a deep block utilizing a back five in addition to a defensive midfielder which suffocated all and any space in the final third. Madrid went into halftime a goal down, but Zidane sent the troops back out reinvigorated in the second half and with a greater urgency in their play. Goals from Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos helped Madrid to take the lead, but a late goal from Santi Mina saw the points shared. Full match ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—7: Was helpless on the opening goal as Smolov was played onside and had a clear 1 v 1 against the big Belgian. Came up a huge for the team later in the first half when he sprawled to save a header from Aidoo.
Dani Carvajal—4.5: Failed to communicate with Rafa Varane on Celta’s opening goal and the both failed to track Smolov’s run in between them. Given Celta’s deep block for most of the match, Carvajal and Marcelo were given the most time and space on the pitch. The services into the box were left wanting on many occasions with a success rate of only 25% from his 8 crosses. In the final minutes of the match, allowed Santi Mina to slip through on goal and was too late to make a challenge or unsettle the striker. Both Dani and Mendy kept Santi Mina on while the rest of the team stepped up.
Raphael Varane—6: Switched off on Celta’s opening goal in the 7th minute and helped keep Smolov onside. In fairness to Varane, the whole backline was disjointed and Sergio Ramos took a huge gamble stepping out to Aspas and taking the team completely out of shape. Recovered after the mistake and produced another strong performance with
Yes, Carvajal and Varane switched off on the goal, but when your back four is this far out of shape, you are going to concede goals regardless. pic.twitter.com/5wV9cTMeW6— Matt Wiltse (@MattWiltse4) February 16, 2020
Sergio Ramos—5.5: Too aggressive on Celta’s opening goal and took a massive gamble when stepping out to press Aspas and shifted the backline completely out of shape. Nearly scored the equalizer right at the start of the second half, but the goal was disallowed by VAR for offside. Did ultimately score a goal, from the PK spot, which the captain put away with great composure.
Marcelo—5: The Brazilian was granted a lot of space and time by Celta and he failed to capitalize—many sloppy passes and below par crosses (20% accuracy). Did produce a quality assist after good play with Benzema to give Real Madrid their first goal.
Casemiro—7: Another consistent performance from Case, he produced a perfect 11 out of 11 on his long ball distribution and had 2 crucial tackles to deny counter-attacking opportunities for Celta.
Toni Kroos—8: The German loves to score against Celta Vigo – 6 of his 14 goals for Real Madrid have come against the La Liga side.
6 goals now for Toni Kroos vs Celta Vigo in his career. That's double the number he has against his next favourite victims.— Euan McTear (@emctear) February 16, 2020
What did they ever do to piss off Kroos in Vigo?
Fede Valverde—6: Minimal impact on the offensive side of the game tonight with Celta’s deep defensive block limiting space, but was ever-present on the defensive side of the ball with 3 tackles and 1 interception.
Gareth Bale—5.5: An improvement when compared against last weekend’s performance, but still expect more from a player of Gareth Bale’s level.
Eden Hazard—8.5: The man who has been out for 3 months, was Real Madrid’s best player on the night. His runs off the ball, the delicate touches to create one-two interchanges, and the connection with Marcelo, Benzema, and Kroos was a joy to watch. It was Hazard who drew the penalty which Ramos dispatched into the back of the net.
Karim Benzema—5.5: The Frenchman combined well with his teammates and look to be a central focal point to produce one-two interchanges, but was limited and closed down immediately by the Celta backline. Along with Marcelo, was the architect to Toni Kroos’goal.
Maybe we just choose to ignore him dropping deep, evading presses, finding Fede wide open in transition after getting out of a tight space, combining with Hazard -- and then pretend there isn't a barricade in front of him. https://t.co/Aej9z27yLD— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) February 16, 2020
Vinicius JR—5: Replaced Hazard after 75 minutes and his first few touches were positive – taking on Aidoo and leaving him for dead with his lethal pace. When Zidane subbed out Bale and put Marcelo on the LW and Vinicius on the RW, the younger Brazilian suffered and looked uncomfortable.
Luka Modric—N/A: Came on in the last 10 minutes for Toni Kroos and Madrid lost a bit of control and the game became chaotic.
Ferland Mendy—N/A: Substituted on in the last 8 minutes to try and secure the win, but Celta ended up scoring through Santi Mina – a player Mendy helped keep onside with Carvajal.