A first half Toni Kroos goal was enough to hand Real Madrid all three points as they beat Galatasaray 1-0 to grab their first Champions League win of the season.
There had been a lot of pressure on Zinedine Zidane to deliver the goods in Istanbul following a shock loss at the hands of RCD Mallorca this past weekend. And, Real Madrid started the game strongly, with Toni Kroos handing the visitors the lead after seeing his shot deflected into the net. Thereafter, both sides had their fair share of chances to score.
But, while Eden Hazard shockingly missed an open goal following some brilliant work, Florin Andone was denied by a solid Thibaut Courtois. In the end, Real Madrid held on for their first Champions League win of the season to climb to second on the Group A table and ease some pressure on Zidane. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over the visiting players.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
Courtois has copped a lot of flak lately for some poor performances. But, on Tuesday, the Belgian was every bit as key as Toni Kroos for Real Madrid’s win.
Called into action right from the early exchanges, Courtois was equal to whatever Galatasaray threw at him and looked more assured while distributing the ball as well. Will hope to embark on an upward trajectory from hereon out.
Dani Carvajal: 5/10
Carvajal has been far from his best so far this season. And, it was more of the same on Tuesday, with the tricky Ryan Babel giving him a tough time. Much better going forward, the Spaniard presented himself as an outlet down the right flank, although he did not make a great deal of impact in the final third.
Raphael Varane: 6/10
With a resurgent Florin Andone up against him, Varane had a tricky evening ahead of him. And the Frenchman did struggle in the first half before improving as the game went on. Has been showing a tendency to be dragged out of position, something he urgently needs to address.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Like Varane, Ramos too suffered early on, as Galatasaray threatened to get in behind the duo. For much of the game, the Real Madrid captain struggled to deal with the ground passes, although he was typically dominant in the air, with very little going past him.
Surprisingly, Marcelo was the most solid of the Real Madrid back four. Galatasaray targeted his side quite a bit through the game, but Marcelo stuck to his guns and defended astutely, making a few crucial clearances. Not involved a great deal in the opposition half but he posed a threat whenever he did charge forward.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
Drafted straight into the starting lineup after recovering from his groin injury, Kroos underlined his importance in the side with a fantastic performance against Galatasaray. The hosts had the bulk of the possession on the night and that is when Kroos impressed the most, getting stuck in and doing a lot of defensive work.
His defensive numbers are simply superb – 3 interceptions, 2 tackles won and 5 recoveries. Most importantly, though, Kroos scored the match winning goal, although he did need a stroke of luck as the deflection his strike took left Fernando Muslera stranded. As one of the senior players of the team, Kroos is clearly taking on more responsibility.
Casemiro has been Mr. Consistent for Real Madrid this season and he continued his fine run of form on Tuesday. In fact, he was a major reason why Galatasaray did not test Courtois a great deal despite having more possession in the game. The Brazilian won a staggering 15 duels, completed 6 interceptions and made 3 recoveries – truly brilliant stats.
Federico Valverde: 7.5/10
A fantastic performance by Valverde, who is slowly growing in stature at Real Madrid. The Uruguay international was a key component in the middle of the park, winning balls high up while being tidy in possession. Crucial in driving Real Madrid forward, Valverde is becoming a vital component in the engine room.
Rodrygo Goes: 7/10
Rodrygo vs Galatasaray
74% pass accuracy
2 key passes
3 dribbles won
2 tackles won
18 years of age. His first start for Real Madrid & Champions League debut. One of the best players on the pitch. 💎 pic.twitter.com/ZsZ3EitSdB
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) October 22, 2019
A surprise starter, Rodrygo made his Champions League debut on Tuesday. And despite still being a rookie in Europe, the Brazilian prodigy was not lacking in confidence, showing tremendous maturity in attack for the visitors.
The 18-year-old made 2 key passes, won 3 dribbles while also contributing on the defensive front with 2 tackles and 2 interceptions. He could have shot better at goal, but that is a quality that he will improve going forward. For now, this was a top class debut for the teenager.
Karim Benzema: 6/10
Benzema is going through a bit of a dip in form and the lull continued against Galatasaray. The star striker linked up well with Eden Hazard and Rodrygo. But, he just could not manage to apply the finishing touches on the night. Otherwise, it was a solid performance by Benzema, who typically put a shift in defensively.
Eden Hazard: 7/10
Another positive performance by Hazard, who is slowly starting to settle in at his new club. Showed a lot of unselfishness in setting Kroos up for the winner, finding the German in acres of space. But, he ought to have done better when he was sent through on goal by Benzema.
Hazard had done the hard bit, rounding Muslera, only to shot at the bar when facing an open goal. Apart from the miss, however, the Belgian was decent enough, finding pockets of spaces and troubling the Galatasaray defenders with his nippy movement.
Vinicius Jr.: N/A
On for the final 10 minutes or so, Vinicius was the bundle of energy that was needed to see the game out.
James Rodriguez: N/A
The Colombian did not have much time to make an impact. But, he got himself involved whenever Real Madrid had the ball.
Luka Jovic: N/A
Another cameo. Another player who did not have a lot of time to influence the proceedings.