Real Madrid brought the curtains down on their Group Stage campaign with a win, beating Borussia Dortmund 3-2 at the Bernabeu on Wednesday
The hosts started the match on the front foot, taking the attack to a suspect Dortmund defence, and they had to wait just eight minutes to grab the lead. Cristiano Ronaldo drove down the left flank before passing the ball to Isco, whose layoff fell to Borja Mayoral who dinked his finish over Roman Burki smartly.
Four minutes later, Los Blancos‘ lead was doubled their lead, with Ronaldo creating history as he scored a fine long-range goal. Thereafter, Real Madrid continued to remain the superior of the two sides, with Theo Hernandez coming the closest to adding to his side’s tally.
But, Dortmund went on to grab the next goal against the run of play, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heading in Marcel Schmelzer’s cross to pull one back for his side heading into half-time. The game was level early into the second half, with the Gabonese striker grabbing his second by chipping the ball over Keylor Navas.
— Real Madrid C.F.🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) December 6, 2017
But, Real Madrid had the final say in the match after ramping up the pressure after the equaliser before finally scoring the winner through Lucas Vazquez’s volley in the 81st minute. Thus, Real Madrid ended the group stage campaign on a positive note, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Keylor Navas: 6/10
Despite what the scoreline suggests, Navas wasn’t really called into action frequently, with just one shot to save on the night. While he did concede two goals, the Costa Rican goalkeeper wasn’t at fault for either of them. All in all, he gave a good account of himself as he continues getting back to his best, slowly but surely.
It was quite a busy night for Nacho, albeit more so because he had to switch places midway through the match due to Varane’s injury. The Spaniard was guilty of tucking in a tad bit, while playing as a right-back, but he found his feet after moving back into the heart of defence, dealing with Aubameyang’s threat supremely well.
He also had a role to play in one of Real Madrid’s goals, as he marauded down the right flank before his cross eventually found its way to Ronaldo, who converted effortlessly.
Raphael Varane: 6/10
Zidane: “I’m sorry for injured players like Rapha [Varane], but we have a team and we must find solutions inside the team.” pic.twitter.com/VEaTwvpOb7
— RMadrid Edition (@RMadridEdition) December 7, 2017
The injury woes just don’t seem to be ending for Varane, who had to be taken off after 37 minutes. Until that moment, the Frenchman was typically assured at the heart of defence, negating any and every threat that could have amounted to a goal. Zidane would now be hoping his injury is nothing serious.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Things haven’t been easy for Ramos this season and coming into this match on the back of a sending off against Athletic Bilbao, the Real Madrid captain was underwhelming once again. While he was quite assuring with the ball off it, he looked vulnerable against a pacy Dortmund attack, and he did not have a good time in the absence of Varane.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
Handed a rare start on the night, Theo produced one of his best performances in a Real Madrid shirt on Wednesday. While he did have his hands full with Christian Pulisic for the first 50 minutes or so, the youngster stuck to his guns without shying away from embarking on his trademark bombarding runs.
Indeed, he was quite the threat in the final third, with his directness and overlapping runs stretching the Dortmund defence, much to Cristiano Ronaldo’s merriment. Will only improve with more games under his belt.
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
— Mateo Kovačić (@Mateo_Kova23) December 7, 2017
Another player who has found minutes hard to come by this season, but due to different reasons. Kovacic controlled the game well for most of the first half, dictating the tempo of the game, linking defence with attack. But, he still looks well short of peak fitness, and was taken off just before the hour mark.
Casemiro produced one of his trademark no-nonsense performances on the night, keeping things tight in the centre of the park, despite having the nippy Aubameyang to deal with. He did make a mistake in the build up to Dortmund’s first goal though, and that was a rare misgiving in an otherwise solid outing.
The creative force for the hosts on the night, Isco started the game with an assist for Borja’s goal, and if it was intentional that was a moment of genius. Thereafter, the Spaniard was the orchestrator for his side, linking up well with Ronaldo and Mayoral, although a lapse in concentration played its part in Dortmund’s first goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9/10
HISTORY – Cristiano Ronaldo has now become the 1st player in all history of Champions League to score in each of the 6 group stage matches. pic.twitter.com/UpQjXQpEzy
— InfoCristiano (@InfoCristiano) December 6, 2017
What is it about the Champions League that brings out the best in Cristiano Ronaldo? The Portuguese superstar has looked a shell of his domineering best in La Liga, but move on to the midweek European games and it seems as if nothing has changed, playing like the record breaker that he is.
On Wednesday, he became the first ever player to score in all six Group Stage games while also extending his record of scoring the most number of Champions League goals in a calendar year. He just needs to replicate his form in the league and Real Madrid would again be a force to be reckoned with.
Lucas Vazquez: 8/10
A fine performance by the Spaniard, who showed superb work-rate and energy, especially after being deployed in a right-back/right wing-back role for the final hour or so. Upon the shift, Vazquez provided width that stretched the Dortmund defence, and a top outing was deservedly capped off with the winning goal.
Borja Mayoral: 7/10
The pressure is surely mounting on Karim Benzema after yet another convincing performance as the focal point of the Real Madrid attack. His predatory instincts were on display for the first goal as he latched onto the stray ball well to score over Roman Burki.
Karim Benzema: 16 games, 14 starts, 5 goals, 2 assists – directly involved in a goal every 167 minutes
Borja Mayoral: 15 games, 4 starts, 4 goals, 1 assist – directly involved in a goal every 105 minutes
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) December 6, 2017
One trait he does need to address is his involvement in the game, with the young Spaniard only having 22 touches on the box, even fewer than Keylor Navas. The presence of Benzema in the squad would certainly help in that regard.
Marco Asensio: 7/10
Asensio had an extended run off the bench as he replaced Raphael Varane in the first half. He was quite the threat to begin with, but in the latter stages of the match, the player found himself to be less involved in the game.
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Ceballos would have been frustrated to be on the bench for a dead rubber, and he showed just why Zidane needs to trust him a lot more in half an hour on the pitch, showcasing brilliant link-up play and passing abilities, while also tracking back to help out in defence.
Marcos Llorente: N/A
On for the final 20 minutes, Llorente looked quite composed while also rotating the ball smartly. Another player who needs a longer run in the side.