Vinicius Jr. was impressive again while Thibaut Courtois and Federico Valverde were colossal as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 on Sunday.
Goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois and Marc-Andre ter Stegen made crucial saves as the game remained goalless heading into the final 20 minutes. The deadlock was finally broken in the 71st minute, as Vinicius Jr. saw his shot being deflected into the net by Gerard Pique, leaving ter Stegen stranded.
The win was then rounded off deep into injury time as Mariano Diaz scored his first goal of the season to make it 2-0. The result ensured Real Madrid have leapfrogged Barcelona to the top of the La Liga table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 9/10
An incredible showing by Courtois, who was a rock between the sticks against Barcelona. The Real Madrid no. 1 made three incredible saves in the first half, as the hosts maintained parity heading into the break. Had little work to do post the interval, but still made an important intervention to deny Martin Braithwaite. Now up to 13 clean sheets in 26 league games this season.
Dani Carvajal: 8.5/10
After a horror showing against Manchester City earlier this week, this was redemption for Carvajal, who was solid all throughout. Completed the most tackles in the game (4) and struck a fine tandem with Federico Valverde, Real Madrid shut off the threat of Barcelona from the right flank.
Also made as many as eight recoveries in addition to a couple of crucial blocks that stopped two goal-bound efforts. The Spaniard was on song going forward as well, making three key passes. What a comeback.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
While Carvajal made a recovery after the midweek gaffe, Varane continued in pretty much the same vein, remaining solid at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Bar one incident when Antoine Griezmann got the better of him, the Frenchman was in fine touch, shutting off the threat of the Barcelona attack well. Assured as ever with the ball at his feet as well.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Another player who needed to redeem himself following a forgettable outing against Manchester City. Ramos, like Varane, was largely solid and kept things simple. While he did not make a great deal of difference on a personal level, the Real Madrid captain was crucial in ensuring the defence remained disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay. Nice effort.
Back into the side, Marcelo had a big battle on his hands against Lionel Messi. The Brazilian, though, came out on top in the personal duel and a stunning tackle on the Barcelona captain was by far the defensive moment of the night. Linked up well with Vinicius Jr. going forward. Easily the best performance of the season by Marcelo.
Federico Valverde: 9/10
Another big game. Another spectacular performance by Valverde. The Uruguayan international continues to be a revelation in the middle of the park for Real Madrid. This time around, he struck a solid partnership with Carvajal and made some key interventions. Going forward, he kept things ticking, leaving it up to the fantastic Toni Kroos to pull the strings. What a top asset.
Casemiro was one of the few players who were sub-par in the Champions League contest, but stepped up big time when Barcelona paid Real Madrid a visit. A colossal presence in the middle of the park, the Brazilian made 4 interceptions and completed 3 tackles. Precise with the ball at his feet as well, completing 51 passes and 5 long balls. Pivotal.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
Toni Kroos misplaced just ONE pass against Barcelona:
⬢ 98.5% pass accuracy
⬢ 65 passes attempted
⬢ 64 passes completed
⬢ 1 assist
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 1, 2020
Kroos might not have been the best midfielder in the game, but the German still played a key role in Real Madrid’s win. The staggering bit about his performance was the fact that he missed just one pass all game long. Played the pass that led to Vinicius Jr.’s goal, directing the Brazilian all the way through. A master orchestrator.
The form player for Real Madrid heading into the game continued playing along the same way he has for some time now. The Spanish international did not exactly make the best start to the game, but grew as the minutes ticked, combing well with Kroos and Valverde to push Real Madrid up the pitch.
Extremely unlucky to come away from the game without a goal, after seeing one shot tipped away in world class fashion by Marc-Andre ter Stegen before having the second one blocked and cleared away by Gerard Pique. Still, another step in the right direction.
Karim Benzema: 6/10
The only player who really underwhelmed for Real Madrid on the night. Did quite a few things right and connected well with Vinicius, even drifting out wide to enable others to bomb the central areas. However, the goals continue to elude him and he seems to be over-thinking things when taking his shots. Needs to come back to his best soon.
Vinicius Jr.: 8/10
The game changer once again for Real Madrid. Vinicius, to begin with, was a frustrating figure in the final third, lacking the end product and shooting in wayward fashion. However, Vinicius ended up making the difference when it mattered the most, although he had Pique to thank for scoring past ter Stegen. Celebrated like his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Portuguese in the stands.
Luka Modric: N/A
Introduced in the 79th minute, Modric helped assert Real Madrid’s control further and played his part as Mariano Diaz scored the second goal of the game late on.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
Kept things simple for the short time he was on the pitch and helped see the game out.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
Making his first La Liga appearance of the season, Mariano completed the ignominy for Barcelona, scoring at ter Stegen’s near post late on to get off the mark for the campaign. A huge confidence booster.