Real Madrid continued their perfect start to the season as they came from behind to record a convincing 4-1 win over Girona at Montilivi on Sunday.
Los Blancos were slow off the blocks as they struggled to muster up chances on a consistent basis. At the same time, the visitors posed a vulnerable look a the back, which was capitalised on by Girona as they took a shock lead through Borja Garcia, who scored with a fierce close range effort.
But, Real Madrid were soon in the ascendancy, and they got back on level terms in the 39th minute when Marco Asensio won a penalty which was duly converted by Sergio Ramos. The European champions would then go on to take control of the game in the second half, scoring three goals to round off the win.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) August 26, 2018
They first took the lead through another penalty, with Asensio being fouled again, as Karim Benzema scored his first goal of the season. Minutes later, Real Madrid had a comfortable cushion as Gareth Bale finished off a swift counter-attack. The win was finally complete when Karim Benzema found the back of the net again, with ten minutes left.
With two wins in two, Real Madrid have now leapt to the top of the table, ahead of bitter rivals Barcelona on goal difference. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Julen Lopetegui’s men after a largely convincing performance.
Keylor Navas: 9/10
The night started off on the worst possible note for Navas, although he could have done very little to stop a thumping shot. The Costa Rican shot stopper, who will be constantly battling for his place in the side this season, then came into his own, making four sensational saves, each better than the previous one.
He was also fabulous while distributing the ball, making a telling impact by initiating the counter-attack that led to Gareth Bale’s goal. A statement of a performance by Navas, meaning Thibaut Courtois might just have to wait a little while longer to make his Real Madrid debut.
Dani Carvajal: 7/10
A mixed bag of a performance for Carvajal. The Spaniard did make a huge impact by clearing the ball off the line in the 25th minute, when Real Madrid were 1-0 down. Solid at the back all through the game, but he wasn’t at his marauding best in the final third.
Had a tough old time dealing with the threat posed by the pacy Anthony Lozano. But, after his initial struggles, Nacho dealt with the Girona striker well, and was rarely troubled as the game progressed. Showcased his versatility as he slotted into the left-back role in Marcelo’s stead, barely putting a foot wrong and nearly assisting a goal.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Among the guilty party that enabled Girona to take the shock lead, Ramos went on to make amends as the game progressed. The Real Madrid captain first scored the equaliser, with a cheeky Panenka, before shoring up defence and keeping the backline organised and disciplined for the rest of the game. Leading from the front.
A typical performance by Marcelo, who was once again found wanting at the back. While he did pose a threat going forward, his shortcomings at the back meant Julen Lopetegui could never rest easy with the Brazilian on the pitch. Rightly taken off for Varane, who provided more solidity in the back-four.
Back in the lineup to add steel to the Real Madrid midfield, Casemiro produced an underwhelming performance. The Brazilian still seems to be off the pace, which meant he had to resort to last-ditch tackles instead of covering up spaces smartly. Steady improvement needed.
Toni Kroos: 6/10
A polar opposite from his performance against Getafe last week. With Girona taking the game to Real Madrid, Kroos was exposed for his unwillingness to contribute defensively, and it was his lapse that allowed Lozano a free run towards the box. Could not pull the strings as effectively either, and will be eager to improve on this outing.
Gareth Bale: 9/10
Gareth Bale has scored or assisted in each of his last seven games for Real Madrid.
⚽️ vs. Barcelona
⚽️⚽️ vs. Celta Vigo
⚽️ vs. Villarreal
⚽️⚽️ vs. Liverpool
🅰️ vs. Atlético
⚽️ vs. Getafe
⚽️ vs. Girona
Unleash the Dragon. 🐉 pic.twitter.com/FzMBmmyEnU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 26, 2018
Another night, Another game when Bale showed that he is ready to step up and fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Welshman did start off slowly, but was almost impossible to contain as soon as he came into his own. Denied early into the second half, Bale wasn’t to be stopped the next time when he finished off a smashing counter-attack with a fine finish.
Also played his part in Real Madrid’s final goal as a sumptuous outside-of-the-booth pass was finished off by Karim Benzema. Bale is the most potent threat for Los Blancos on either flank, and having scored six in his last six games, confidence is evidently running high.
Much improved from last week, even though he too, was one of several players who weren’t sharp from the get-go. Could have scored twice in the first half, but he notched up an assist when he provided an inch-perfect pass to Bale for his side’s third. Needs to keep his levels high, especially with Luka Modric knocking on the door for his inclusion in the no. 10 role.
Marco Asensio: 8/10
Asensio is, quite clearly, the one player who has benefited the most from Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. Now enjoying the confidence of his manager, Asensio is displaying his talent to his full abilities, complete with deft touches, light footwork and a willingness to run at defenders. Played a huge part in Real Madrid’s win, having earned two penalties that shifted the momentum.
Karim Benzema: 9/10
Benzema is up and running for the 2018-19 season, his two goals already completing half of his tally for the entirety of the previous league campaign. But, the Frenchman’s performance wasn’t just about the goals he scored. He too, seems to be full of confidence, linking up play smartly to bring his teammates into the game.
— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) August 27, 2018
An increasingly potent threat for Real Madrid this season, Benzema looks primed for an impressive tally, perhaps his best ever? For now, the 30-year-old is vindicating Lopetegui’s decision to not buy a striker in the summer window, and how.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Added a feeling of assuredness at the back upon replacing the vulnerable Marcelo. Slotting into the heart of the Real Madrid defence, the World Cup winner showcased his fine understanding with Sergio Ramos, which meant Girona barely threatened. Might have done enough to earn a start against Leganes.
Luka Modric: N/A
On for the last 15 minutes or so, Modric did show some neat touches on the ball. But, he still seems to be lacking the sharpness needed for him to return to the starting lineup.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
Replacing Bale for the final few minutes, Vazquez was booked almost instantly, which didn’t earn him any favours with Lopetegui. Didn’t do much otherwise.