A strong start turned into a shaky game as Real Betis gave Real Madrid a run for their money at Benito Villamarin. Zidane opted for another new lineup, one with a strong midfield core but it didn’t work on the pitch as well as it did on paper.
Either way, Los Blancos found a way to walk away with their first victory of the season, though the performance will still serve them a bit of criticism.
See player ratings below
Thibaut Courtois— 6.5: Made an incredible, very instinctive save in the sixth minute of the match to keep Betis from taking the lead early on. Couldn’t do much against the first goal but was beaten near post for the second. Given we know what he can do, this wasn’t the best performance from the Belgian.
Dani Carvajal — 6.75: Overall a decent effort tonight. Kept trying to bring Real Madrid forward on the wings. Provided the cross into the box leading to Emerson’s own goal.
Raphael Varane— 7.5: Again, the World Cup winner proved the Manchester City disaster hasn’t phased him at all. Crucial interceptions throughout the match, particularly in the first 15 minutes. Finished with three clearances, three blocks and five aerial duels won.
Sergio Ramos— 7: Not the best first half from the captain. Often left Varane at the back and had to make up ground for it. Plus, he missed a sitter that could’ve made it 2-0 for Real. But leave it to Ramos to come in clutch for the team, scoring the winning penalty panenka-style.
Ferland Mendy— 6.75: Another promising night from Mendy, seems to really be making a case to start over Marcelo (injury or not). Made a lot of runs and positioned himself well. Would be nice to see him bring more than speed to game, though.
Casemiro—6.5: An usually sub-par performance from the Brazilian today, most of which could be due to the slight knock he took early in the first half. Out jumped against Mandi leading to Betis’ first goal. I had him coming off at half but he grew into the game. Proved his place in the end.
Fede Valverde—7.5: Man of the match performance today. Great to see the Uruguayan back on the pitch full of drive. Covered tons of space and fought for possession often. Won the ball in the build up to the first goal and creeped forward to finish it himself. Nice to have him back.
Toni Kroos— 6: Didn’t see much from the maestro in the first half. He was subbed off just before half time after picking up what seems to be an apparent muscle injury.
Martin Ødegaard— 6: Seemed a bit confused on the pitch, which might be a continuous problem as Zidane plays around with different line ups. Had good intentions to move forward but wasn’t aware when William Carvalho picked up the ball to make it 2-1. Subbed at half time for Isco.
Karim Benzema— 7: Another eager performance from Big Benz (as per) but again unfortunate not to score himself. Superb assist for Valverde and served a great ball to Jovic as well in the second. Dragged Emerson across the box to force the own goal.
Luka Jovic—6: Many were surprised Jovic started the match. Lots of criticism has been given for a lack of input in matches and tonight was no different. Yet, even though he didn’t score (or really touch the ball) he was often in the right position and aware of the emerging plays (re: Emerson’s red card), the opportunities just didn’t work out. Subbed off after 72 mins.
Luka Modric— 6.5: Came on for Kroos just before half time. A bit odd not to see him start this match but he really didn’t add much to the game either. Tired legs, one would assume.
Isco— 6.75: Came on for Ødegaard at halftime. Had the most impact amongst the midfielders bar Valverde. Found pockets of space, had one shot on target and completed two dribbles.
Borja Mayoral—6: Came on for Jovic in the 72nd minute and forced the winning penalty. Looks hungry for the ball but needs to time his runs a bit better. A reliable substitute for future games? Possibly.