There would be no tinkering from Ancelotti ahead of the biggest match of his second reign in charge of Real Madrid. Lucas Vazquez and Rodrygo each kept their places on the right flank with the Kroos-Casemiro-Modric still fighting strong in a 2021 Clasico. The team never really moved out of second gear, but never had to in order to win the match. Vinicius Junior was lethal in transition, Alaba was a rock in the back, and Kroos controlled the tempo of the match. Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6: Sloppy with the ball at his feet. Overhit a right footed lobbed pass to Lucas Vazquez and put Militao in tough situations under pressure. Never really troubled by Barcelona other than the shot Dest skied over the bar.
Lucas Vazquez—7: Awful start to the game, passing the ball out of bounds twice and committing late tackles on Fati and Memphis, but like so many others weathered the nervy start and grew into the match. His second half was brilliant and scored the game-winning goal to mark the performance.
Eder Militao—6.5: Turned by Memphis in the first half leading to the huge miss by Sergino Dest. Despite a few poor gambles, timed most of his interceptions well and did fairly well with the ball under pressure.
David Alaba—9: An absolute monster and a player that is quickly earning the right to wear Real Madrid’s #4. Scored a golazo — starting the play by winning the ball off Memphis just outside the box and then sprinting 90 yards up the field to bullet a ball into the upper 90. Also, had a decisive block in the box on an Ansu Fati shot in the first half.
Ferland Mendy—7: No joy whatsoever for Dest or Gavi with Ferland Mendy at left back. Only time he was beaten was in the 90+ minute for Dest assist to Aguero.
Casemiro—5.5: Very poor on-ball performance, with no less than 4 misplaced passes within Real Madrid’s half in the opening 45 minutes. But with Casemiro it is always a cost-benefit analysis, and his defensive interventions and doubling down on the wings were crucial to keeping Barca at bay.
Luka Modric—7: Carlo asked too much of the Croatian with central midfielder tasked with tracking both Busquets and Frankie De Jong depending on where the ball was on the pitch. Had a good battle with Frankie De Jong and on multiple occasions was the saving grace for Militao and Vazquez to be their out ball when under pressure in the back.
Toni Kroos—8.5: Without a doubt, one of the best players on the pitch. His cool and calm composure during high stakes matches provides the team with a breather and allows them to find their shape and retain possession for larger stretches.
Rodrygo Goes—6.5: Like many other Madrid players, had a tough time getting into the match early on, but his role gradually grew as the match wore on. Was crucial in the Alaba goal, grabbing an assist for the second year running at the Camp Now.
Vinicius JR—9: Absolutely devastating on the counter attack. Mingueza and Eric Garcia had a torrid time dealing with the young Brazilian. His confidence was sky high and no Barcelona player could get near him. Four completed dribbles and was fouled six times — both game highs.
Karim Benzema—6.5: Very slow to get into the game, but gradually made his mark dropping deep to connect the midfield and attack. Managed 2 key passes and combined well with the likes of Modric and Vinicius Junior. Had one of the best opportunities of the game after receiving a ball in the box from Modric, but his volley was right at Ter Stegen.
Fede Valverde—N/A: Had to substitued off just after coming on due to a clash of heads with Gerard Pique.
Marco Asensio—7: Had one transition moment and he took advantage of it. Used his speed to take advantage of the whole in the Barcelona backline. Drove towards goal and unleashed a shot that Ter Stegen could only parry, with Lucas Vazquez bundling the goal in via a slide tackle.
Dani Carvajal—N/A: Played last five minutes to close out the game.