The champions of Europe came back from a goal down to complete a stunning 3-1 victory against Paris Saint-Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu.
It was a thrilling game, filled with non-stop action. Zinedine Zidane’s men and the Santiago Bernabeu were silenced by Rabiot’s 33rd minute goal. Toni Kroos was brought down in the box by Lo Celso and Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to the occasion and finished with aplomb.
Both sides went into the break level, but it was Real Madrid that came out the more energised side. PSG later tried to get back in the game and enjoyed a period of sustained possession late in the second half. Zidane brought on Marco Asensio and in 79th minute, and that proved to be the decisive.
The Spaniard played a key role in Real’s second and third goals, completing a superb comeback, worthy of champions. However, Rabiot’s away goal means that PSG have more than a fighting chance, and the second leg in a fortnight’s time promises to be far dramatic than the first.
Keylor Navas: 7.5/10
Had three saves to make, did them all well. Could do nothing for the goal, Nacho was blocking his line of sight. Saved well from Mbappe on one occasion. A comfortable outing for the Costa Rican.
Nacho Fernandez: 7/10
The Spaniard did well to prevent Neymar from getting on the score-sheet, but couldn’t block the subsequent shot from Rabiot. Had a tough game against the Brazilian and got booked later on in the game for a foul on him as well. But managed to hold him off long enough. A tense, but good performance.
Rapahel Varane: 7.5/10
Combined well with Ramos and he cut a calm and composed figure in defence. Did well to prevent Cavani from getting on the scoresheet. A good game from the Frenchman.
Sergio Ramos: 7.5/10
The captain made a superb block in the penalty box to prevent Kimpembe from getting on the scoresheet. Kept Cavani quiet. Could have maybe done better to prevent Mbappe’s cross, which led to the goal. Was good in the air and was a dominating figure in defence.
What a performance. His best of the season. The Brazilian had a superb outing and was especially effective in attack. Set up Ronaldo brilliantly with a cross field ball which he failed to capitalise on, kept having a go at the PSG right wing and more importantly, scored his side’s third goal.
The only blemish in what would have been a perfect performance? Letting Mbappe get away a little too easily, which led to PSG scoring that all important away goal. But, he more than made up for it. A top class outing from arguably the best leftback in the world right now.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
The former Bayern Munich midfielder won the all important penalty that helped bring Real Madrid back on level terms with the visitors. Kept things moving for Real and controlled his side’s game from the middle of the park.
The Brazilian had his work cut out for him while coming up against Verratti, Celso and Rabiot. But for the most part, he did extremely well, given that Modric and Kroos aren’t nearly as defensively inclined as he is. Showed some great strength, composure and footwork to hold onto possession at times and made a number of key tackles and interceptions.
Luka Modric: 7.5/10
The Croatian kept things moving in the middle of the park for Real Madrid. Failed to track Rabiot’s run before the goal, but got him booked later on in the game after feigning a foul. Verratti & co did well to keep the former Tottenham man as quiet as possible. A decent game from Modric.
Distributed well and got the ball in dangerous areas. Acted as creator-in-chief for Los Blancos during his time on the pitch and did well against the threat of Lo Celso and Verratti. Showed some great skill on the ball, but couldn’t contribute to a goal or assist.
Karim Benzema: 6.5/10
Took a while before he could attempt his first shot on goal, but when he did, it required a brilliant diving save from Alphonse Areola. Couldn’t get a goal or an assist, and most of his evening was spent keeping the defence occupied, running into spaces and trying to draw defenders away. Taken off in the 68th minute, a decent performance.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9/10
The Portuguese superstar missed two good chances over the course of the game, but eventually made up for it with a well taken brace. One, a coolly taken penalty, the other with his knee, after finding himself at the right place and the right time, to give his side the lead.
It was by no means his best performance his season. He looked frustrated most of the time it seemed as if it wasn’t going to be his day. However, he gained confidence after slotting in the penalty and the formation change, which resulted in him moving to the center, clearly worked for him.
He was there when his team needed him the most after scoring his 100th and 101st Champions League goals for Real Madrid, he’s taken his tally to 9 goals in his past 5 games. Seems as if the former Manchester United man is finally finding his form this season, but Zidane will have to give some serious thought now, as to how he needs to set up his team to get the best out of the 32-year-old.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
Gareth Bale: 6.5/10
The Welshman came on in the 68th minute, but couldn’t make the impact he or Zidane would’ve hoped for. He did get in some good attacking positions, but just couldn’t combine with Ronaldo and Isco well enough. PSG’s high pressing didn’t help his cause either.
Marco Asensio: 9/10
His arrival in the 79th minute changed the game. Gave Thomas Muenier a torrid time on the left flank and he ran the Belgian ragged. He played a key role in setting up Cristiano Ronaldo’s second of the night and provided the assist for Marcelo’s winner, all in the space of 3 mintues.
It was an inspired substitution from Zidane. As mentioned before, this performance will certainly force the Frenchman to consider a formation change. Asensio has been superb when deployed on the left wing in a 4-4-2 formation this season, and perhaps it is time that the youngster is given a chance to feature on his preferred position on a more regular basis.