Santiago Solari oversaw his first La Liga win as the full-time Real Madrid manager, as Los Blancos beat Valencia 2-0 at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
The hosts came firing out of the blocks, conjuring their first chance within the third minute, as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema combined, with the latter shooting just over the bar. Five minutes later though, Real Madrid had their lead, with Daniel Wass heading the ball into his own net from Dani Carvajal’s cross.
Thereafter, Los Blancos continued their domination till half-time, but failed to add to their advantage due to their own profligacy. This wastefulness could have cost them dearly, as Valencia improved significantly in the second half, with only Thibaut Courtois and poor finishing ensuring they kept their slender lead.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 1, 2018
But, Real Madrid finished the job with seven minutes left in regulation time, as Lucas Vazquez was at the end of a fine team move, with Karim Benzema providing the assist to him for the second game running. The three points took them to within three points of league leaders Sevilla, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Santiago Solari’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
This was Courtois’ most accomplished performance to date in Real Madrid colours, despite being called into action on the odd occasion. That was because the Belgian played a big role in organising the backline. When he was needed, Courtois was typically solid, making one fantastic save to deny Michy Batshuayi.
Dani Carvajal: 9/10
Carvajal’s outing on Saturday is perhaps the most outstanding by any Real Madrid full-back this season. The Spanish international was in monstrous form from the get-go, showing a lot of aggression while pressing. At the same time, he showed a lot of composure when on the ball, particularly during his bit in the first goal.
Dani Carvajal vs Valencia
Passes completed – 61
Pass accuracy – 88.4%
Key Passes – 1
Interceptions – 1
Tackles – 2
Dribbles – 5
Duels – 10(8)
Dribbled past – 0
Man of the match 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/poiXgaFmGp
— Abhi (@KroosEdition) December 1, 2018
Winning the ball off Jose Gaya, Carvajal danced around a couple of defenders before crossing the ball, before Daniel Wass scored the own goal. Had a hand to play in the second goal as well, dribbling forward with purpose before Lucas Vazquez eventually scored. At the back, there was no way past him, with Goncalo Guedes nullified completely. A man of the match performance.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Varane continued his improvement on Saturday, dealing with the threat of Kevin Gameiro expertly and keeping his compatriot quiet for the most part. A few hairy moments, especially when Batshuayi slipped past him and Sergio Ramos, but Courtois was there to save his blushes. Still some way off his early season form, but he is getting there.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Ramos was another player who produced a promising performance on Saturday. The Real Madrid captain was unassuming in the first half, taking no chances when cleaning up at the back. He had his fair share of nervy moments as well, with Santi Mina giving him a hard time. All in all though, this was a solid outing, with the Spanish international leading from the front.
Sergio Reguilon: 7/10
Handed an early recall owing to Marcelo’s injury, Reguilon was promising once again. Was a willing supporter in the final third, linking up nicely with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Struggled at the back at times, with Carlos Soler being Valencia’s danger man. An able backup performance nonetheless.
Luka Modric: 8/10
This has to be the best that Modric has looked this season. With the young bucks pressing aggressively in the middle of the park, the Croat enjoyed a lot of time on the ball, spraying passes effortlessly, exactly how everyone has grown accustomed to seeing of him.
Still not without his poor moments, but this was a significant step in the right direction. Set to be awarded the Ballon d’Or on Sunday, the celebrations surely started early.
Marcos Llorente: 8/10
After the colossal performance against AS Roma, Llorente had to be the first name on the team sheet. And, Saturday’s outing was another that would have seen his stock rise further. In what was a complete midfield performance, the 23-year-old completed three tackles and one interception while being the perfect advocate of Real Madrid’s aggressive pressing.
Marcos Llorente's game by numbers vs. Valencia:
95% pass accuracy
10 successful long balls
1 chance created
A confident display. 👑 pic.twitter.com/KiSnubq8Bh
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 1, 2018
On the ball, Llorente was simply sumptuous, with an astounding 95 percent passing accuracy, 10 successful long balls, 2 take-ons and a chance created. In fact, it was Llorente who won the ball and started the move that led to the first goal. Casemiro might have a hard time returning to the side upon his return.
Dani Ceballos: 6.5/10
A mixed bag for Ceballos, who was a relentless worker off the ball. His energetic bursts were the perfect foil for the improving Modric, and the Spaniard even boasted a fantastic 95 percent pass accuracy. The major drawback in his performance though, was that he ended up halting his side’s momentum, on the odd occasion with wasteful passing.
Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10
This was a typical Lucas Vazquez performance, albeit at a slightly higher level than usual. Like always, the 27-year-old worked hard off the ball, pressing aggressively and completing the most tackles from his side (4). But, he was sloppy on the ball at times, although he ended up grabbing a well deserved, confidence boosting goal.
Karim Benzema: 8/10
In his elements from the word-go, Benzema was a delight on the night. In particular, it was his work off the ball that drew the loudest of cheers from the Bernabeu faithfuls, as the Frenchman did not hesitate in dropping into his own half to win the ball before starting a number of moves.
His first touch was excellent as well, and Benzema even came close to scoring a world class goal on a couple of occasions. While it wasn’t to be for him in front of goal, Real Madrid’s star striker was perfect on other accounts, even showing brilliant composure to lay the ball to Lucas Vazquez for the goal that clinched all three points.
Gareth Bale: 6/10
After an encouraging performance against AS Roma, it was another case of one step forward two steps back for Bale. The Welshman showed a lot of urgency in the early stages, while his role on the left flank made him more unpredictable. Forced a save out of Neto as well, but he faded considerably as the minutes passed and was whistled off the field.
Marco Asensio: 7/10
On for Bale in the 63rd minute, Asensio was a bundle of energy and displayed some nice touches. But, the youngster missed a glorious chance to put the game to bed and get some confidence back, when set up by Llorente.
Federico Valverde: 7/10
Valverde replaced Modric with 20 minutes to go, getting a nice outing on the pitch, as he continues to grow this season. The Uruguayan cut a confident figure in the middle of the park, showing a lot of purpose and energy. Played a part in the chance that was eventually missed by Asensio.
One player who is out of favour with Solari. But, Isco got a few minutes under his belt, when introduced in place of Ceballos. Helped see the game out and nearly a goal which might have turned the tide for him.