With multiple absentees due to COVID and injuries, Carlo Ancelotti was at last forced to make some rotations. Lucas Vazquez, Fede Valverde, and Eden Hazard all started vs Cadiz with the latter having a point to prove — getting his first start since September. With the Belgian playing on the right wing and often coming centrally, the balance of the squad was off. Cadiz played as low of a low block as a team can play, with nearly 10 men behind the ball. The lone Cadiz striker, Lozano, was hanging slightly higher for any potential counter attacking opportunities. Despite dominating possession and accruing 36 shots across the 90 minutes, Madrid simply could not find a breakthrough. They leave the final match of 2021 at the Bernabeu with just a single point. Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6: Did not have to make a single save in this match. His match was left to just barking orders and starting the build-up play out of the back.
Lucas Vazquez—4: Replaced Carvajal at right back but had a tough game, particularly in the first half. The quality of his crosses were sub-par and he failed to contribute meaningfully to the offense.
En verde, todos los centros buenos de Lucas Vázquez en la primera parte. En rojo, todos los centros malos. pic.twitter.com/z7MheNNUZU— Albert Ortega (@AlbertOrtegaES1) December 19, 2021
Eder Militao—8: Once again was at the top of his game playing in an extremely high line. Nullified any threat Lozano tried to provide on the counter.
David Alaba—6: May have been a better option at left back for this type of match, with Madrid being forced out to the wings and with Mendy struggling to identify the right spaces and combinations in the final third.
Ferland Mendy—4: The Frenchman may not be the best option for the starting XI when playing against deep blocks. Often clogged the space for Vinicius to run into and played the ball laterally or backwards whenever in possession.
Casemiro—3: Should have been shown a red card in the 25th minute and was a liability in possession.
Toni Kroos—8: 9 key passes and 6 shots — the German tried to pull every string he could to turn the tide in Madrid’s favor including playing a lovely lofted central pass to Hazard who failed to connect with enough power on his header.
Fede Valverde—6: Had a brilliant long distance shot which nearly rippled into the upper 90 of the Cadiz net. Was active throughout the game, but maybe lacked the creativity needed for this type of match.
Eden Hazard—6: A very poor first half was balanced out by an improved second half. The Belgian is still light-years away from his Chelsea form, but managed to carve out two quality goal-scoring chances.
Vinicius Junior—5: Cadiz forced the Brazilian winger to the flank so that he could only cross the ball and it was effective. Failed to stamp his usual authority on a match.
Karim Benzema—5: Had a fair shout for a penalty kick in the second half and combined well with Hazard and Jovic, but could not find the key to unlock the Cadiz defense.
Nacho—6: Played at center back to move Alaba to left back, only had sweeping up to do as the team went all-out on the attack in the final stages.
Luka Jovic—5: Had one good combination with Karim Benzema, but otherwise failed to get into the game with spaces clogged between he, Hazard, and Benzema all operating in the same general area.