Karim Benzema put on a show as Real Madrid defeated Deportivo Alaves on Friday night to retain their four-point lead on top of La Liga.

Real Madrid had the pleasure and pressure of hosting Deportivo Alaves at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium after Barcelona defeated Espanyol to cut down their lead to 1 point on top of La Liga. They were, however, forced into some changes after three of their four first-choice defenders did not make the squad list.

The first half started well for the hosts, who got a penalty in the 10th minute of the game – a decision that had to be reviewed for a good five minutes before Karim Benzema took responsibility from the spot and scored his 18th of the season. After this, it was end-to-end stuff in the first half with both teams winning turnovers and launching counter-attacks of their own.

The second half started the way the first ended, as Rodrygo Goes brilliantly set up Benzema before the Frenchman laid the ball off to Marco Asensio, who put the game to bed in the 50th minute. Real Madrid were at their finest for the last half an hour of the game as Roberto Jimenez was forced into making five saves for Alaves. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.

Thibaut Courtois: 8/10

Solid in goal. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Solid in goal. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Courtois kept his 18th(!) clean sheet of the season against Deportivo Alaves, but was made to work hard for it. The Belgian made four brilliant saves, keeping Joselu at bay for two of them. He also ended the game with a 97% passing accuracy while completing two of his three attempted long passes. Just another day at the office for Courtois.

Lucas Vazquez: 8/10

Vazquez had to take over the right-back spot in the absence of Dani Carvajal, who picked up a suspension last time out. The Spaniard was relatively untroubled in defence and was forced into just two tackles. He created two goalscoring chances and continued venturing forward in attack. Vazquez nearly had an assist too after Rodrygo met his cut-back, but could only hit it right at the goalkeeper.

Eder Militao: 7/10

Militao started his second consecutive game in the league against Alaves, this time partnering Raphael Varane. The Brazilian was able to complete 90.5% of his passes, ten of his fourteen long balls while winning 100% (2/2) of his aerial duels. However, his carelessness in defence in the second half allowed Joselu to run past him and take an attempt at goal.

Raphael Varane: 7.5/10

After missing the last game due to a neck injury, Varane returned to the XI to continue his sublime season. He made two blocks and two interceptions and also won 9 of his 13 attempted long passes, while maintaining a passing accuracy of 90%. The best moment of his game, though, came when he denied Lucas Perez a goal through a brilliant clearance just off the line. Consistently wonderful.

Ferland Mendy: 8/10

Mendy started after Marcelo was awarded his fifth yellow card of the season and carried the ends on both sides of the pitch. He won the penalty for Los Blancos in the first half and continued to terrorise Alaves throughout the 90 minutes. He won 9 of his 10 ground duels, won five set-pieces and completed 100% (3/3) of his long balls – a fine all-round game from the Frenchman.

Toni Kroos: 9/10

Top class (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Top class (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Toni Kroos was at the heart of everything great about Real Madrid against Alaves, taking 120 touches of the ball and making 98 accurate passes (96.1%). He also completed a stellar 100% (11/11) of his attempted long passes and each of his dribble attempts (2/2).

The German sniper attempted three shots at goal, but none of the three troubled the goalkeeper. Probably the only aspect of his game that was not nearly perfect on Friday night. Otherwise, Kroos was just top class.

Casemiro: 7/10

Zidane’s anchor-in-charge was far from his best against Alaves, but was still able to complete a great game. Casemiro won three free-kicks on Friday, won 3 fouls and completed 10 of his 16 long passes. He also won 4 of his 6 ground duels and 2 of his 6 aerial duels. Should have probably done better to stop Victor Camarasa from creating chances, though.

Luka Modric: 8.5/10

Modric began his third game in a row in the centre of the park and gave more reason to Zidane to continue playing him. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner accurately delivered 92% passes, one of which was a sublime ball that created a wonderful chance. He also completed 100% (8/8) long balls, 80% dribbles (4/5) and 80% (8/10) of his ground duels.

In fine form. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In fine form. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The only two times Modric did not complete his take-on against Alaves were the times he won a foul and gave time to his team to regroup after a series of intense plays. Back to his best under Zidane.

Marco Asensio: 7.5/10

Asensio started the against Alaves even though Zidane had declared that it would take time before he could be back to being a regular. He created three goal-scoring chances and scored one himself. Also completed 4/4 of his long balls, but did not try a lot of dribbles, as he so often does. The 24-year-old was subbed off in the 70th minute, but we can expect to see more of him in the future.

Karim Benzema: 9/10

Karim Benzema was announced as La Liga’s Player of the Month for June this week and went on to prove why he is one of the best players across the continent. He scored Real Madrid’s opener from the spot and went on to create 4 chances for his teammates. Benzema got an assist as well for his efforts after setting up Asensio for the second of the game.

Rodrygo Goes: 7/10

Rodrygo got the nod over the likes of Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Vinicius Junior against Alaves. Still, his inclusion proved to be worth it when he found Benzema running through the defence and put forth an inch-perfect pass which led to the second goal.

Rodrygo made Jimenez into a stop twice, but both his shots were saved rather easily. His tremendous 8/10 dribbles completed proved to be the highlight of his match on Friday.

SUBSTITUTES

Vinicius Junior: 7/10

Vinicius was subbed on at the 70th minute mark but was involved from the get-go. He created two chances and completed an overall 86% passes against Alaves. We might see him start in the next game after missing out on the starting lineup two matches in a row.

Federico Valverde: N/A

Despite being subbed in with twenty minutes remaining, Valverde had barely anything to do.

Isco: 6/10

Isco was in contention to start the game against Alaves, but had to make do with an eight-minute cameo. His guest performance yielded two shots on target and 18 attempted passes.

Eden Hazard: N/A

Came on with less than 10 minutes to go; touched the ball only 11 times.

Brahim Diaz: N/A

Subbed on for Casemiro to allow the clock to strike full-time.

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