Real Madrid’s second La Liga game of the season was another away fixture, a match against Levante at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. Carlo Ancelotti would not be able to count on Luka Modric after the Croatian sustained a small injury in training this week. With Odegaard officially off to Arsenal, Kroos with a long-term injury, and Dani Ceballos still recovering from his ankle issue, Carlo only had five midfield options to choose from. The Italian started with a trio of Casemiro, Valverde, and Isco. In the first half, Isco played like a man possessed. He was the standout performer; building out from the back, beating players on the dribble, drawing fouls in dangerous areas, and dictating the flow of the game. After a rather subdued first half, the game exploded in the second stanza with a total of 5 goals, 1 post, 1 red card, and a Levante outfield player (Ruben Vezo) ended up in net for the final 6 minutes of extra time. Carlo Ancelotti will be disappointed with the defensive performance, but encouraged to see a young gem like Vinicius Jr finding the finishing touch. Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—5.5: The Belgian goalkeeper will never be happy conceding three goals in one match. He had little fault in the three goals conceded, but did overcommit on a play in the 81st minute where Levante hit the post.
Lucas Vazquez—3: Nightmare performance for the stand-in right back. Lucas will want to put this game behind him and move on. Completely switched off on Levante’s first goal, allowing Roger Marti to run free in the box. Was left marking two men on Levante’s second goal, and although cannot be blamed, should have been barking orders to one of Bale or Fede to help track back.
Militao—5.5: Defended well when isolated 1 v 1 vs Morales or Campana, showing off his physical strength.Took a risk and committed aggressively on the first goal Madrid conceded, ultimately did not win the ball and the risk ended in a goal for the opposition.
Nacho—5.5: Won all 4 of his ground duels and finished the match with 100% pass accuracy from 73 passes. One criticism would be on Levante’s second goal, should have closed down the angle on De Frutos, so that he could not get off a clean cross to Campana. Sometimes the space between he and Militao was too large of a gap.
David Alaba—6: Some very good moments from the Austrian like his pre-assist to Benzema to set-up the first goal, but also needlessly pressed on Levante’s second goal and headed the Levante free kick back across goal on the third goal Madrid conceded.
Casemiro—8.5: After some poor passes in the first half, Casemiro evolved into one of the fundamental pieces of the Madrid team. He had the most touches alongside David Alaba, spread the field with 10 long balls (6 completed), won 7 of his 10 aerial and ground duels, and produced 2 key passes including the Xabi Alonso-esque assist to Vinicius Jr on Madrid’s second goal.
Isco—9: Played 60 minutes and played 60 minutes at a supremely high level. He was the standout performer in the first half. In the first half alone, Isco had: 3 completed dribbles (1st), was fouled 4 times (1st), 49 touches (1st), 33 passes and 98% pass accuracy, with 3 tackles (1st). If Isco can maintain this type of form, he will be a very important player for Real Madrid this season.
Fede Valverde—5: Provided good energy in midfield and is omnipresent whenever Madrid press. Fell asleep on Levante’s second goal and should have helped track back with Lucas Vazquez covering two players at the back post.
Gareth Bale—6.5: Took his finish well, astutely held his run and provided Benzema with a lateral option. Though, other than his goal, Bale was relatively quiet. He did well to occupy the left half space and try to pin Levante’s backline further back, but most of Madrid’s possession was on the left side of the pitch.
Eden Hazard—4: Stats will show Eden finished the game with 2 key passes and 2 completed dribbles, but his influence on the match was minimal. There was plenty of possession on the left side of the pitch, but Hazard failed to leave his mark on the match.
Karim Benzema—6: Aside from his brilliant run and intelligent assist to Gareth Bale, the Frenchman had a quiet game for his incredibly high standards. Only had 39 touches — against Alaves last week he saw 18 more touches or 33% more.
Vinicius Jr—10: The boy became a man. This Levante match felt eerily similar to the Liverpool game, where one could say Vinicius has “arrived”. The season is still young and Vinicius will need to prove that this uptick in finishing can be sustained over 38 games, but the Brazilian simply put the team on his back to score two brilliant goals and forced Aitor Fernadez into drawing a red card. A perfect performance from the Brazilian who spared Madrid’s blushes.
Rodyrgo Goes—7: While not quite as impactful as his compatriot Vinicius, Rodrygo was a net positive coming on to the right wing. It was his pass that released Vinicius into space to draw Aitor Fernandez’ red card. It was also Rodrygo who created enough space via a successful 1 v 1 take on down the right, to play an inch perfect cross to Luka Jovic who nearly scored with his snap header.
Marco Asensio—4: Played as a central midfielder just as Carlo Ancelotti said he would in the press conference yesterday and he failed to impress. Marco ran tirelessly, but often ran out of position and hurting Madrid’s shape. In what became a bad habit last season, Asensio failed to track his mark on Levante’s third goal from a free kick.
Luka Jovic—6.5: Arguably earned Madrid a penalty in the dying minutes of the match, but the referee waved away Madrid’s protests. The poor Serbian cannot buy a goal for Real Madrid — he had a strong snap header from a Rodrygo cross, but it was directed right at Aitor Fernandez.