Karim Benzema’s second-half goal helped Real Madrid secure yet another narrow win against Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday.
Real Madrid extended their lead to six at the top of La Liga table by securing a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday. It was a closely contested fixture, with both sides being able to create clear cut scoring opportunities, although the hosts looked a bit dull in the first half.
But, that was before Zinedine Zidane made two changes in the half-time, which completely changed the complexion of the game. Substitute Vinicius Junior took on the Atleti defenders before releasing Ferland Mendy, whose cross found Karim Benzema for a 56th-minute winner.
Zidane’s men were able to secure their slender advantage until the very end. In fact, they looked even more dangerous after finding the opener, notably forcing Jan Oblak to make some solid saves.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Real Madrid players in their priceless derby triumph against their cross-town opponents.
Thibaut Courtois 7.5/10
It was a rather quiet game for the Belgian, especially in the second half. But, it was his save against Angel Correa, that prevented Atletico Madrid from getting a grip into the game. He was, however, notably beaten by the Argentine soon after, though the shot hit the post.
Courtois ultimately managed to extend his excellent record this season with yet another clean sheet. He has secured ten clean sheets so far.
Thibaut Courtois has now kept as many clean sheets as he has conceded goals in LaLiga this season.
• 18 games
• 10 clean sheets
• 10 goals conceded
Rediscovered his best form. pic.twitter.com/WqYVeKGDBk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2020
Dani Carvajal 7.5/10
A mixed performance from the Spanish international, who was excellent in preventing the likes of Saul Niguez and Vitolo from making an impact down the right-hand channel. But, he was barely involved in the second-half, though his performance was enough to help Real Madrid a narrow victory.
Raphael Varane 8/10
Raphael Varane’s ability to transition the play with his accurate diagonal balls, which are normally very hard to intercept, gave Real Madrid the advantage, especially in dealing with Atletico’s incredibly aggressive first line of press.
Defensively, the Frenchman was swift to cut out passing lanes and complement Sergio Ramos. And their partnership was critical as Real Madrid managed to preserve yet another clean sheet.
Sergio Ramos 8.5/10
Ramos was a rock at the back for Real Madrid. The Spaniard simply didn’t afford any time or space to his compatriot and former teammate Alvaro Morata. As a result, Atletico were forced to play outside the box and rely on long-range efforts.
Ramos’ physical and aerial dominance completely outclassed the offensive duo of Vitolo and Morata and later, substitute Thomas Lemar. A classic defensive display.
Ferland Mendy 9/10
It was arguably one of the best performances from Mendy in a Real Madrid shirt. Starting ahead of the experienced Marcelo at left-back, the Frenchman provided incredible offensive support, especially in the second half. He also looked quite comfortable in distributing possession even in the final third.
As mentioned earlier, it was his cross that led to Benzema’s opener in the 56th minute. Hence, the ex-Lyon defender deserves a lot of credit for his performance.
With Toni Kroos anchoring alongside, Casemiro was awarded the freedom to play his natural game in midfield. His robust nature was key in dealing with the aggressive Atletico side and defending the loose balls in the middle of the park.
The Brazilian also tracked back and operated almost as an auxiliary centre-back whenever it was needed. Hence, it is fair to say that Casemiro’s contributions in the middle were critical behind Real Madrid’s clean sheet against Los Rojiblancos this weekend.
Toni Kroos 6/10
It wasn’t the best of performances from Kroos, who simply looked offbeat and wasn’t able to dictate the game as throughout as one would expect. As a result, he was rightly subbed off after the half-time.
Federico Valverde 8.5/10
Continued his remarkable development under Zidane yet another impressive display, even against a top side like Atletico Madrid. Indeed. The Uruguayan international worked tirelessly and further solidified Real Madrid’s second line of press.
In the second half, the substitution of Kroos allowed him to play in a more withdrawn role alongside Casemiro. And the youngster didn’t disappoint either, cutting off several passes in the middle and complementing his Brazilian teammate. One of the best players on the pitch.
Luka Modric 7.5/10
Luka Modric clearly wasn’t one of the best performers on the pitch. And his overall fitness was certainly becoming an issue in dealing with Atleti’s intense style of play. However, it was his technical prowess that worked as a catalyst for Real Madrid in the final third.
A disappointing performance from the Spaniard, who was completely ineffective going forward, despite some excellent support from Mendy. He was rightly hooked off at half-time.
Karim Benzema 7.5/10
Real Madrid would have been in turmoil had it not been for Benzema this season. The Frenchman once again showed his true quality and finishing prowess by capitalising on the chance provided by Mendy. Aside from that, however, the veteran forward wasn’t involved as much as he would have liked but a solid performance nonetheless.
Vinicius Junior 9/10
Replaced Isco in the second half and made all the difference with his pace and trickery in the final third. Indeed. The young Brazilian looked very confident in taking on defenders and was simply untouchable, at times. It was his excellent run that played a critical role in the build-up to Real Madrid’s opening goal.
Lucas Vazquez 7.5/10
Replaced Kroos and provided a bit of flair and tenacity on the right flank, which was missing, especially with Carvajal operating in a relatively deeper role.