Luka Modric was yet again the star performer as the Croatian’s expertise in midfield helped Real Madrid seal the La Liga title with a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday.
Real Madrid sealed only their third La Liga title since 2010 after securing a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday evening.
It wasn’t an easy game for Los Blancos, even though they were coming on the back of the run of nine consecutive wins in the domestic competitions. However, an excellent finish from Karim Benzema at the half-hour mark gave Zinedine Zidane’s men the ideal platform.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) July 17, 2020
The goal simultaneously put more pressure on Villarreal, who were more than willing to push forward in search of an equaliser. Unfortunately for Javier Calleja, his side conceded a controversial penalty during the late stages of the game.
More drama ensued when Benzema appeared to have got out of his line early when Sergio Ramos was taking the spot-kick. The Frenchman made amends by converting the retake, thus extending his tally to 21 goals this season.
But more importantly, it helped Real Madrid oust Barcelona in the title race, although it was a nervy ending to the game for the home side, especially following Vicente Iborra’s excellent header that helped Villarreal pull one back during the final phase of the game.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Real Madrid players in their win over Villarreal on Thursday.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
Thibaut Courtois had very little to do, certainly less than what he had expected heading into this fixture. But, the Belgian made a magnificent save from a Villarreal set-piece during the dying embers of the game to deny them from finding the equaliser. Couldn’t have done anything to save the Iborra header though.
It wasn’t easy. But we made it as a team. 🏆 This title is the ultimate reward for our determination. For not giving up. For working hard. For you, who kept believing in us. Thank you! 🙏🏻 #HalaMadrid #LaLiga #RealMadrid #RMLiga pic.twitter.com/IlqfqGZB8h
— Thibaut Courtois (@thibautcourtois) July 16, 2020
Dani Carvajal: 7.5/10
Dani Carvajal was a real menace for the Villarreal defence, especially during the first phase of the game. The Spaniard went forward with full license and created numerous opportunities for his side. He even had an attempt on goal saved by Sergio Asenjo while his link-up play with Rodrygo on the far side was eye-catching as well.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Raphael Varane’s composure at the back was key in helping Real Madrid deal with the threat of Gerard Moreno throughout the game. A solid defensive display from the Frenchman, whose partnership with Ramos makes Real Madrid one of the strongest sides in Europe.
Sergio Ramos: 7.5/10
Although it is debatable whether the foul on Ramos was a penalty, the Spaniard deserves credit for winning the ball in midfield and then marching on, before winning a foul. Aside from that, the Real Madrid captain created a solid foundation at the back alongside Varane, helping the team contain a strong Villarreal attack.
Ferland Mendy: 6.5/10
Ferland Mendy wasn’t as influential as he was in the game against Granada. However, the Frenchman was still solid, rotating possession without any real problems.
Luka Modric: 9/10
Luka Modric’s silky footwork, effective passing and brilliant understanding of the game helped him orchestrate the things in midfield for Real Madrid. Indeed, the ageing midfielder was Los Blancos‘ main source of creativity, which was evident in his pass to feed Benzema for the first goal. Even after the goal, Modric continued to impress the onlookers with his effortless passing and distribution.
After struggling against Granada, Casemiro was back to his best. He imposed his dominance in the middle of the park, making key tackles and mopping up loose balls. It provided a lot of assurance and freedom for his teammates in midfield. The Brazilian also played a key role in the first goal by creating the turnover that led to the counter-attack. A neat performance.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Toni Kroos’ contributions in midfield were perhaps overshadowed by the excellent performances of Casemiro and Modric. A long-range effort that hit the bar was the highlight of the German’s display in the middle of the park. Made way for Isco late in the game.
Rodrygo started the game well, offering pace and dynamism on the right flank. However, his influence on the proceedings waned in the second half before he eventually made way for Vinicius around the hour mark.
Karim Benzema: 8/10
Benzema once again showed why he is one of the most underrated strikers in Europe with another fascinating display. The Frenchman scored two important goals but importantly, it was his combination play, understanding and work-ethic that added another dimension to Real Madrid’s play.
Eden Hazard: 5/10
Returning to the starting lineup at the expense of Isco, Eden Hazard struggled to make any real impact on the proceedings. Nothing really worked out for him as he was replaced by Marco Asensio around the hour mark.
Vinicius Junior: 7/10
A blistering performance from the Brazilian in the second half after replacing Rodrygo. Indeed, his quick-feet and pace made life difficult for the Villarreal defenders and it reached its peak when the youngster made a brilliant solo run to create a chance for Asensio.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Scored a goal late in the game from the Vinicius chance but it was ruled out by the VAR. The Spaniard, otherwise , made a decent impact after replacing Hazard.
Came on for Kroos in the 84th minute to offer more creativity, as Real Madrid looked to double their advantage. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
A late replacement for Carvajal. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Federico Valverde: N/A
A late replacement for Modric. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.