After a tough away trip to Milan mid-week where Carlo Ancelotti’s side squeaked out a 1-0 victory, they once again had to travel for a big away day — this time to the city of Valencia. Eden Hazard was brought back into the fold, given a starting birth despite having a potential knee issue. Nacho kept his place at left back over Miguel Gutierrez and Alaba played as a central defender. There would be no real rotations for Carlo given the magnitude of the match, a top of the table clash against Bordalas’s new look Valencia. After going down to a Hugo Duro goal in the second half, Carlo Ancelotti threw on five different subtitles to help turn the tide of the match. Vinicius Jr scored his fifth goal of the season while Karim Benzema scored his sixth.
Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—8.5: Made three crucial saves from shots inside the box. Hugo Duro knocked on the door twice before finally scoring and both time Thibaut Courtois got the better of the young Spanish striker. Tried to close down the angle on Duro’s third shot, the goal, but little blame could be placed on the Belgian.
Dani Carvajal—5: Only played 25 minutes, having to be substituted for yet another injury.
Militao—6: Faired well with the challenge of playing against the physical Maxi Gomez and speedy Goncalo Guedes.
David Alaba—8: The “Kaiser” never stops barking orders and instructing his teammates on where to be on the pitch. He is consistently the leader at the heart of the defense. Had a team high of 7 clearances — nearly 3x the amount of any other Real Madrid player.
Nacho—6: Struggled at times with the directness of Yunus Musah, but otherwise performed well in his “elbow back” role.
Casemiro—5: Not at his usual level vs Valencia. Caught on the ball a few times when put under pressure, and only won 2 of his 7 ground duels.
Luka Modric—6: Was critical in helping the team evade the press and transition on the counter attack, but his legs faded as the game went on and was rightly substituted near the 70th minute.
Fede Valverde—4.5: The effort is never in question from the Uruguayan, but never took a risk with his passing and fell asleep on Hugo Duro’s goal.
Vinicius JR—9: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Vinicius JR and Karim Benzema simply cannot be stopped. Despite a challenging game where Thierry Correia and Foulquier tried to double down on the Brazilian as often as possible, Vini was relentless in his direct runs and desire to take those defenders on. The Brazilian scored the equalizing goal in the 86th minute and then provided the assist on the game-winner to Karim Benzema in the 88th minute.
Eden Hazard—8.5: Played in his new second striker or #10 role and provided 6 key passes along with 3 completed dribbles. Connected well with his offensive counterparts Karim Benzema and Vinicius JR.
Karim Benzema—9: Game after game, Karim Benzema produces the goods. His sixth goal of the season could be one that is looked back on as one of the defining goals of the season. Real Madrid never gives up and Karim Benzema never gives up.
Lucas Vazquez—5.5: Played at right back after Carvajal got injured in the 25th minute. Had a number of sloppy passes early on, but gradually grew into the game and always provided much needed width on the right flank.
Rodyrgo Goes—7: Brought a lot of energy after coming onto the pitch. Combined well with Benzema and Vazquez, while also giving Toni Lato a tough time with his off ball movement.
Eduardo Camavinga—8: Completely changed the tempo of Madrid’s game. Was confident on the ball, assured with his passing, and plugged gaps / recovered the ball with his pace and ability to cover large portions of the pitch.
Luka Jovic—7: Nearly had an assist to Rodyrgo after being fed by Benzema in the box. His off ball movement provided headaches for the Valencia backline who were forced to deal with not one (Benzema), but two (Jovic + Benzema) aerial threats in the box. Another net positive performance from the Serbian coming off the bench.
Isco—7: Evaded Valencia’s press well and helped Madrid keep the ball moving quickly.