Carlo Ancelotti opted to rotate ahead of the first La Liga game of the season. Five players from the UEFA Super Cup victory were rested: Militao, Alaba, Casemiro, Modric, and Carvajal. In their place came debuts for Tchouameni and Rudiger as well as minutes for Camavinga, Nacho, and Lucas Vazquez.
It turned out to be a difficult game in the south of Spain with Almeria going up early courtesy of a goal from Ramazadin. Some tactical tweaks and personnel changes from Ancelotti led to a second half turn around. Goals from Lucas Vazquez and an inch-perfect free kick from David Alaba secured the result for Madrid.
Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—7.5: Despite their limited counter attacks, Almeria still managed 10 shots, with half of those shots testing Courtois.
Lucas Vazquez—8.5: Won all of his ground duels, contributed 2 key passes, made countless runs on the weak side of play, scored a disallowed goal, and scored the equalizing goal. It was a heroic Lucas Vazquez performance.
Antonio Rudiger—6.5: Struggled with the threat of Sadiq and Ramazani for the first 20-30 minutes of the match, resulting in a miscommunication with Nacho on the opening goal. Gradually grew into the game, outpacing all of Almeria’s forwards and playing a beautiful lofted long ball for Karim Benzema to latch on to, but fail to score.
Nacho—7: Like Rudiger, struggled early on but gradually found his way into the match. The two center backs could have done better on the goal — deciding either to step up together or drop together. Those kinks worked themselves out and both improved. Despite the mis-match physically, Nacho handled Umar Sadiq with ease and was very aggressive stepping out to deny the lanky Nigerian.
Ferland Mendy—4: Was poor on Wednesday against Frankfurt and did not have a good match tonight. Offered very little in the final third when Vinicius was desperate for a partner down the left flank.
Tchouameni—6: A lukewarm debut, but with positive moments to build on. Some of those moments included: a outside of the boot through ball to Benzema, a lofted transition pass to Vinicius on the break, and some good high pressure to force a Girona turnover. Some of the chemistry with his teammates is still lacking and there were often huge gaps between Tchouameni and the Real Madrid defense.
Eduardo Camavinga—5: A frustrating performance for the young Frenchman given how well he played in preseason. Failed to find a rhythm and was carded before the end of the half. Substituted out at half-time for Luka Modric.
Toni Kroos—7.5: Three key passes, a disallowed assist, game-high of 115 touches and 81 passes at a 97% success rate. The German has started the season playing at a very high level.
Fede Valverde—7.5: Played with an urgency that was lacking from the rest of the team in the first half. Managed two impressive ball-carrying sequences in the first 45 to try and carve out a goal scoring opportunity. Finished the match with 4 key passes and 4 shots, but probably should have scored at least one goal.
Vinicius Junior—8.5: The difference maker once again. Girona tried to double down on Vinicius and his compatriot, Kaiky, defended well for large stretches of the game, but Vinicius never wears down and never stops trying. The Brazilian had the skillset to breakdown a resilient back five and help open the scoring with a shot that was parried into Lucas Vazquez path for the first goal.
Karim Benzema—6.5: A quiet night for KB9 still consists of 3 shots, 4 key passes, and 1 big chance created. Unfortunately for the Frenchman he failed to convert a couple of big opportunities courtesy of a low driven pass from Vinicius and a ball over the top of the defense from Toni Rudiger.
Luka Modric—7: Came on at half-time for Eduardo Camavinga. His introduction gave the team some much needed control and fluidity.
David Alaba—8: Mere seconds after stepping onto the pitch, he scored the game-winning goal. A direct free kick just outside the box was the perfect opportunity to introduce Alaba and score a world class goal. Finished the match as a left back and his 15 minutes on the left flank were far more impactful from an offensive perspective than his teammate, Ferland Mendy.
Eden Hazard—7: Played as a #10 alongside a midfield of Kroos, Modric, and Valverde. Combined well in between the lines and had a number of deft and skillful touches.
Dani Ceballos—N/A: Late introduction in the 83rd minute.
Casemiro—N/A: Late introduction in the 83rd minute.