Eder Militao was colossal at the back, while Toni Kroos ran the show as Real Madrid narrowly beat Alaves 2-1 at the Mendizorrotza on Saturday.
The first half was a cagey affair as chances came few and far between for Real Madrid, despite their dominance on the ball. The deadlock was finally broken early into the second half, as Sergio Ramos scored from a fabulous glancing header, meeting Toni Kroos’s pinpoint delivery from a free-kick.
Ramos, though, quickly went from hero to zero as he elbowed Joselu inside the Real Madrid box to concede a penalty. Up stepped Lucas Perez, who made no mistake on converting from the spot and bring the game back to level terms. Moments later, though, Real Madrid had their lead back as Dani Carvajal scored from point-blank range.
Los Blancos continued to assert their dominance thereafter, but were unable to add to their lead, as the game ended in a 2-1 win for the visitors, who took sole lead on the La Liga table with the result ahead of Barcelona’s crunch meeting with Atletico Madrid on Sunday. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Alphonse Areola: 7/10
A surprise starter, Areola made his first appearance since the 4-2 win over Granada in October. Did not have a lot of glove work to do, but was equal to whatever threat Alaves threatened to create and was assured with the ball at his feet for the most part. The late save from Manu Garcia’s late header stood out. Could not have done much to deny Lucas Perez from the spot.
Dani Carvajal: 8/10
Much maligned so far this term, Carvajal produced one of his best performances this season. Solid at the back, Carvajal negated the threat of the tricky Luis Rioja quite well. At the other end, the Spaniard was a constant outlet and was in the right place at the right time to score the winner, having also started the move before Isco eventually hit the post. An accomplished display.
Eder Militao: 9/10
Handed a rare start in place of Raphael Varane, Militao grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Incredibly disciplined at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, Militao rarely had to break into a tackle and was never dribbled past in the entire game. Tidy in possession, the Brazilian completed 95.6 percent of his passes. A point well made.
Sergio Ramos: 6.5/10
Just another Sergio Ramos performance. For much of the game, the Real Madrid captain did well to keep the backline disciplined and organised, while winning everything in the air. Ramos even popped up at the other end to nod in the opening goal from a Toni Kroos free-kick, his third of the season.
But, in typical fashion he found a way to dampen a strong performance, elbowing Joselu to concede a needless penalty. Otherwise, there was very little to fault Ramos, who was solid for the most part.
A decent display by Marcelo, who combined well with Isco and Karim Benzema in the final third and constantly looked to make things happen. At the back, he was found at times, with Ramos having to cover up for his positional errors on the odd occasion. Nevertheless, it was an assured showing by the Brazilian, who continues his resurgence under Zidane.
Luka Modric: 6/10
The midfield rotation continued on Saturday as Luka Modric started ahead of Federico Valverde. The Croat, though, was somewhat underwhelming, particularly in moving the ball forward, which he did at an excruciatingly slow tempo for large parts of the first half. Much improved post the break before being replaced by Valverde late on.
As has been the case for much of the season, Casemiro was thoroughly professional in his display. The Brazilian hardly let anything past him in the middle of the park, making a team-high 3 tackles and 3 interceptions. Mr. Consistent at it again.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
Kroos has been the definition of playmaking genius for Real Madrid this season, adjusting well to the demands of each game. Here, with Alaves sitting back in a tight shape, the German looked to open up play by spraying diagonal passes, still retaining a staggering 93 percent pass accuracy.
6 – Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos has been involved in six goals this season (3 goals, 3 assists), only one fewer than the last season. Key. pic.twitter.com/rDhhj8sssS
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 30, 2019
Put in the hard yards off the ball as well, completing one tackle and two interceptions. Most importantly, Kroos delivered the pass for Real Madrid’s opening goal, a precise delivery that Ramos had to simply caress into the net. A masterclass on a difficult afternoon.
Gareth Bale: 5/10
With Eden Hazard injured, Bale made his first start in nearly two months. This was his chance to prove that he deserved a run in the side, but what ensued was a bland display that only set him back further.
Bale did show a lot of purpose initially, only to fizzle out as the game progressed, needlessly giving away possession in the final third and sapping the momentum. Unsurprisingly the first to be taken off.
Karim Benzema: 6/10
Real Madrid’s in-form striker endured a frustrating game, on an afternoon when he was mostly feeding off scraps in and around the Alaves box. Did look to get himself into the game by dropping deep and drifting out wide, but was never provided with quality service in what was a scrappy game for Real Madrid.
Following an impressive showing against PSG, Isco got another start. And, the Spaniard continued his resurgent run, even though he was not as dazzling as his midweek performance. Nevertheless, Isco exploited his free role well, looking to evade his markers constantly, although the end product was missing at times. Hit the post before Carvajal netted the winner.
Rodrygo Goes: 6/10
On for Bale, Rodrygo looked to make things happen in the final third, using his nippy movement to good effect. But, the young Brazilian was rather quiet after his initial burst and failed to make much of an impact.
Federico Valverde: N/A
Given the final ten minutes, Valverde ought to have done better late into the game, when he could have set Benzema up for Real Madrid’s third.
Ferland Mendy: N/A
A late introduction, Mendy helped see the game out.