Karim Benzema led the charge for Real Madrid once again, as they beat Levante 3-2 at the Bernabeu to return to winning ways on Saturday.
Real Madrid seemed to be on the money from the get-go, but were left frustrated by the heroics of Aitor Fernandez, who was able to keep the hosts at bay for a quarter of the game. The deadlock was finally broken in the 25th minute, when Karim Benzema nodded in from Dani Carvajal’s cross.
Six minutes later, Benzema doubled his and his team’s tally after being delightfully set up by James Rodriguez. Real Madrid were then three to the good with five minutes still left in the first half, as Casemiro scored from close range after being teed up by Vinicius Jr.
But, just when it looked like the Merengues were going to run away with the win, Levante pulled a goal back through Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral, who produced a fine finish to beat Thibaut Courtois. Los Blancos still continued to pose a constant threat on the other end, but were unable to add to their advantage.
With 15 minutes left in regulation time, Levante reduced their deficit to just one goal, as Gonzalo Melero scored from point-blank range. But, Real Madrid were able to hold on for the remainder of the game to secure their first home win of the season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
Usually, conceding two goals warrants a modest rating for a goalkeeper. But, Courtois was ultimately the reason Real Madrid grabbed all three points, as his first save of the game ensured the hosts maintained their one-goal lead late on. Could not have done much to stop either of Levante’s goals.
Dani Carvajal: 6/10
A mixed bag of an outing for Carvajal, who looked dangerous with the ball at his feet but faltered at the back once again. Created the first goal for Benzema with an inch perfect cross and shared a nice understanding with Lucas Vazquez and the Frenchman. But, he was beaten rather easily by Melero for Levante’s second. His defensive form is starting to become a concern.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Levante might have scored two goals in the game, but Varane had a largely quiet evening. Kept Borja Mayoral quiet for the most part and was not at fault for the goal the Real Madrid loanee scored. Did well to step up once Sergio Ramos was substituted, taking on more responsibility to shut the gates on Levante.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Ramos had a difficult time whenever Levante got near the hosts’ box. The Real Madrid captain was caught napping when Mayoral ran off him to score from a first-time shot. Otherwise, the threat of Jose Luis Morales kept him on his toes constantly before he was given an early breather.
A decent performance by Marcelo, who was a constant threat in the final third, where he linked up marvellously with Vinicius Jr. Defensively, however, as is the case usually with him, the Brazilian was a passenger, leaving wide open spaces, although they were very rarely exploited. A missed chance, with Ferland Mendy breathing down his neck.
James Rodriguez: 8.5/10
James Rodríguez’s game by numbers vs. Levante:
100% aerial duels won
82% pass acc.
5 chances created
3 tackles made
Things we love to see: this. 💫 pic.twitter.com/Fn7e6OdVxN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 14, 2019
In what was his second successive start at the Santiago Bernabeu, James Rodriguez grabbed his opportunity with both hands. With Luka Modric out injured, this was the Colombian’s chance to prove his qualities by taking on the creative responsibilities in the side. And, he did just that against Levante.
James was in his elements all through the game and bar his efforts to find the back of the net, there was very little to fault in his game. The playmaker also provided the assist for Benzema’s second goal and could have had more in his tally, if the finishing from his teammates was better. Nevertheless, this was a big step in the right direction.
A tricky game for Casemiro, especially with Zidane not having the luxury to call upon a midfielder from the bench. But, the Brazilian stuck to his task quite well, nipping the Levante attacks in the buds more often than not. Also grabbed a goal to cap off a fine outing, arriving into the box late before producing a neat finish.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
While James Rodriguez was making an impact in more advanced areas, Kroos was pulling the strings from a deeper position. Everything that Real Madrid created went through the German, who dictated the tempo of the game effortlessly. A major threat from corners, with his deliveries leaving the Levante defenders on their toes.
Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10
The workhorse of the side was a positive influence for the hosts with his energetic presence on the pitch. Had a major role to play in two of the three goals that Real Madrid scored. Off the ball, his pressing helped Real Madrid close Levante down in their own half. A lively display.
Karim Benzema: 9.5/10
What more can be said about Benzema that has not already been said in the last one year or so. The Frenchman continues to lead the line for Real Madrid with aplomb and added two more goals to his tally, with both the finishes being right out of the top drawer.
Also added to the creative process by dropping deep, with Benzema producing quite the all-round display. Had plenty of chances to complete his hat-trick, only for Aitor Fernandez and the woodwork to deny him. Only Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi have more goals in 2019 than the Real Madrid fan favourite.
Vinicius Junior: 8.5/10
With Gareth Bale suspended, Vinicius Junior had more responsibility on his shoulders. And, as has been the case with him so far in his Real Madrid career, the young Brazilian rose to the occasion with elan. His movement was a cause for concern for the Levante defenders, creating space for his teammates in the process.
On the ball, it looked as if he would create something every time he had it at his feet. Provided the assist to Casemiro with his perfectly weighted pass. Deserved a goal for his exploits but was denied one when James Rodriguez was ruled out for offside late in the second half.
Eden Hazard: 7/10
Finally making his Real Madrid debut a month later, Hazard seemed to be intent on making for lost time. In fact, the Belgian nearly provided an assist with his first touch and was a major threat on and off the ball. Could have had his maiden goal for Los Blancos, but was one of many to be thwarted by the brilliant Aitor.
Eder Militao: 6/10
On for Sergio Ramos, Militao too made his debut for Real Madrid. But, the Brazilian had very little work to do post being introduced and helped see the game out ahead of what will be his first start of the season against PSG.
Luka Jovic: N/A
A late substitution for Benzema, Jovic barely had any time to make an impact.