Real Madrid produced a listless performance to slump to their 10th defeat of the season in La Liga, as Rayo Vallecano handed them a 1-0 loss on Sunday.
Zinedine Zidane made a raft of changes to the side that was held to a goalless draw by Getafe earlier in the week. But, the shuffles could not bring the best out of what the Real Madrid boss has set out for, with chances coming few and far between.
Mariano Diaz and Dani Ceballos came the closest to scoring for the visitors before Rayo Vallecano broke the deadlock. The goal though, came a long time coming as referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes first denied the hosts a penalty after Javi Guerra appeared to have been brought down by Jesus Vallejo.
Real Madrid had subsequently embarked on a counter-attack, with Gareth Bale forcing Alberto Garcia into a save. But, upon consultation with the VAR, Fuertes pointed towards the spot. Adrian Embarba stepped up to take the resulting penalty and made no error in beating Thibaut Courtois.
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Thereafter, Rayo held on to their slender advantage, with both the goalkeepers only making two saves each in the remaining hour or so. Real Madrid thus, fell to their tenth league defeat of the season while Paco Jemez’s men gave themselves a glimmer of hope in their bid to stave off relegation. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
Making his first start since Zinedine Zidane returned to the helm, Courtois gave a good account of himself and showed his gaffer that he maybe deserves a run in goal. Did not stand a chance to stop the penalty, but made a couple of top-class saves to keep his side in the game. The scoreline could well have become embarrassing if not for him.
Dani Carvajal: 4/10
A difficult night for the Real Madrid full-back, who had to defend against both Bebe and Alex Moreno for stretched periods. Was indeed out of position in the move that eventually led to Rayo Vallecano getting the penalty. Did not do anything on his forays forward either, in what was a game to forget.
Raphael Varane: 6/10
Varane started the game slowly, letting Jose Pozo through on goal early on before also being poor in terms of positioning when Vallejo conceded the penalty. Thereafter though, the Frenchman was rock solid, barely giving the opposition attackers an inch.
Jesus Vallejo: 6/10
Vallejo actually fared far better than his partner at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. But, one unfortunate moment pulls his rating back a bit, as he conceded the penalty that ultimately made all the difference. Otherwise, the young centre-back did not do much wrong, keeping a check on Rayo’s output.
The full-backs were tasked with providing the width in the Real Madrid attack on the night, and both of them failed horribly. The Brazilian was a liability at the back, as has been the case for much of the campaign. Was hardly better going forward, with a paltry pass accuracy of 73.2 percent. Did nothing of note when creating the chances in the final third.
Luka Modric: 3/10
Modric has been one of the better players for Real Madrid lately, whenever he has started. But, on Sunday, the horrors from early in the season were there to be seen once again, with the Ballon d’Or winner losing the ball more times than he created a meaningful chance. In need of a break and the end of the season cannot come soon enough.
Marcos Llorente: 5/10
Starting in place of Casemiro, Llorente failed to grasp an opportunity in which he had to show Zidane that he deserved more chances. While he was solid on the defensive front, the Spaniard failed to leave an impression when building up play from deep. Needs to be sharper on the ball.
Toni Kroos: 5/10
Kroos fared much better than Modric on the night, although that is hardly anything to boast of. The German did lay on three key passes while also making five tackles. But, in the clutch moments, he could not make the difference, which is where he has often gone wrong this season.
Dani Ceballos: 5/10
A rare opportunity to impress was thrown away by Ceballos, who did not look sharp in the final third. Added to Real Madrid’s problems in attack instead of solving them, although he did come close to finding the back of the net early on. Might well be on the move in the summer.
Gareth Bale: 4/10
Speaking of players who are running out of chances, the prime candidate in this category is Gareth Bale. On target with a free-kick in the second half, that was the only time he had a sniff at goal, which is a poor turnout considering his starting position on the night. Something has got to give between Real Madrid and Bale.
Mariano Diaz: 5/10
With Benzema injured, Mariano Diaz was handed a start to lead the line for Real Madrid. But, the young striker was understandably off pace and lacked sharpness. His movement is clearly not as good as the Frenchman’s and that affected Real Madrid’s play as well. Will hope to do better if given another start.
Brahim Diaz: 6.5/10
The player who should have been handed a start on Sunday was also the one who posed the greatest threat despite only being on the pitch for around 20 minutes. One player who ought to have left an indelible mark in Zidane’s second coming thus far.
On for Modric, Isco could not inspire a turnaround, only keeping things simple when he needed to be searching passes that split the Rayo Vallecano defence wide open. His best position remains a question mark.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
Sent on late in the game, Vazquez barely had any time to make an impact.