Cue the anthem, the Champions League is back. Heading into the first-leg against Liverpool, Zinedine Zidane’s men were handed a plethora of issues. First, they’re in the middle of a tough schedule with El Clásico sandwiched between both legs, then multiple players are injured (including Sergio Ramos) and they lost Raphael Varane to COVID-19 the day of the game.
Yet still, Real Madrid found a way to work around all those obstacles and put on arguably one of their best performances in recent weeks. Goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio secured a 3-1 win giving Los Blancos a crucial grip on the tie.
See player ratings below.
Thibaut Courtois — 7.5: Didn’t have much to do all night as Liverpool had very few attempts on goal. Unfortunate to let in Mohamed Salah’s goal but couldn’t do much given he was in close range. Communicated well with new-look partnership between Nacho and Eder Militão so will be happy with that. A few miscued passes, though.
Lucas Vazquez — 8: One of the hidden gems this season (like in many others) and proved he’s the utility player of the bunch. Vazquez has developed his defensive skills exceptionally well this season with Carvajal out often and he was on the ball today. Great tracking, worked well with Asensio and was physically strong in the box alongside the centre-backs. Finished with one aerial won and three tackles.
Eder Militão — 8.5: Had an enormous amount of pressure on his shoulders coming in for Varane at the last minute and boy, did he step up. Without a doubt one of the best performances from Militão wearing white. Was physical, had good decision making skills and was confident in virtually every step. Finished with one dribble, one tackle and four aerials.
Nacho — 8: Given Ramos’ absences, Nacho is the usual fill in for Zidane’s back line and he had another strong performance. Paired well alongside the rarely used Militão and he helped silence Liverpool star-studded attack. Finished with two tackles.
Ferland Mendy — 8.25: Another decent performance from Mendy who worked with Vinicius to make life a living hell for Trent Alexander-Arnold. Helped stretch Madrid’s play out wide to help them get past a gridlocked Liverpool at times and made a great last ditch tackle on Salah at one point. Finished with one key pass, two dribbles and two tackles.
Casemiro — 8: It’s rare to say this, but Casemiro was one of the weaker players throughout this match — though not by much. Had difficulty with some passing and looked very tired throughout the 90 minutes. However, his defensive skills still came in clutch for Madrid. Finished with one shot, one key pass, two aerials won and a staggering eight tackles.
Toni Kroos — 9: Another masterclass from the German midfield maestro. What else is new? Created both chances for the two goals in the first half (one of which was a glorious assist for Vini’s opener). Had some misplaced passes, though, which we rarely see. Finished with 91 per cent pass completion, one shot, one tackle and four key passes.
Luka Modric — 8.5: What a player Modric is. Like Kroos tonight, once again showed why he’s one of the top midfielders in the world. Put in more of a defensive shift than others did which was a nice bonus especially as Liverpool pushed for a second goal. Assisted Vini’s second goal and finished with one key pass and three tackles.
Marco Asensio — 8.25: Reached a personal best tonight finding the back of the net in four consecutive matches and has now scored in every one of his UCL knockout appearances for Real Madrid. After coming back from an ACL tear earlier this season, that’s quite the rebound. Instinctive and clinical in front of goal tonight and showed he’s had major defensive improvements when he helped Vazquez control the right wing. Finished with five shots, one key pass and one tackle. Subbed off after 70 minutes.
Karim Benzema — 8: Wore the captain’s armband tonight in the absence of Ramos and Marcelo. Was very quiet tonight in terms of finding the target but was influential in creating chances. Would have been nice to see him on the scoresheet, though. Overall strong performance and will be happy not to have done all the work himself to get the win tonight. Finished with 90 per cent pass completion, one key pass and four shots.
Vini Jr. — 9: My oh my, what a night for Vinicius Junior who just oozed confidence throughout the entire match. Was not afraid to turn on the after burners and run against Liverpool’s fragile defence, had good footwork and decision making too (he’s maturing and you can tell). A brilliant solo run to open the scoring and then a clinical finish in the second half to cap off the victory and secure a brace. Finished with four shots, two dribbles, one key pass and one tackle. Subbed off after 85 minutes.
Fede Valverde — 7: Nice to see Valverde back in with the squad and earn a couple minutes against Liverpool. Came in for Asensio at the 70 minute mark. Liverpool held most of the possession during the time he was on the pitch but used his speed to try and pounce forward when he could. Good defensive moments, too. Finished with three aerials won and one tackle.
Rodrygo — N/A: Not enough time on the pitch for a rating but a decent cameo after coming on for Vini Jr.