Eden Hazard was sub-par but Dani Carvajal and Mariano Diaz impressed as Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal on Saturday.
Real Madrid made an electric start to the game, as Mariano Diaz produced a tremendous headed finish from Dani Carvajal’s cross in the second minute to put the visitors in front. Thereafter, Los Blancos dominated the proceedings for much of the first half without adding to their advantage.
Villarreal, who did have a chance in the first period, were much improved post the interval and pressed Real Madrid relentlessly to seize the initiative. And, after applying pressure for stretched periods, the hosts finally found a way back into the game when Thibaut Courtois brought down Samu Chukwueze inside his own box 15 minutes from the end of regulation time.
Gerard Moreno took the resulting penalty, making no error in converting from the spot, with the two teams ending up sharing the spoils. With Real Madrid producing another performance to forget, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 5/10
Over the course of the game, Courtois had more work to do with his feet than with his gloves. In fact, the Real Madrid no. 1 was not forced into even one save, with Villarreal being wasteful with their chances. However, Courtois ended up being decisive in the game after conceding the penalty which made it 1-1 and forced the stalemate.
Dani Carvajal: 8/10
Back into the side for the first time since September, Carvajal showed exactly what Real Madrid have been missing from the right-back slot. The Spanish international made an early impression with a peach of a cross that was converted by Mariano Diaz. Carvajal then put in a shift at the back, winning 5 duels and making 3 clearances. Top effort on return.
Raphael Varane: 7.5/10
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With Sergio Ramos out injured, Varane had the responsibility of leading the defence. While he did not really organise the backline with aplomb, the Frenchman was on song individually, making a couple of critical interventions while clearing the ball 4 times. Hardly misplaced a pass either, losing possession just 4 times. Solid work as captain of the side.
Starting a rare game at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, Nacho provided a solid presence at the back. In the first half, the Spanish international was caught out of position a couple of times, but he found his footing well as the game progressed. 3 interceptions, 2 blocks and 1 clearance make for a fine reading for a player who, like Varane, was extremely precise with the ball at his feet.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup, Mendy had a battle on his hands against the nippy Gerard Moreno. While he did not always come out on top in that duel, the Frenchman was solid for the most part. Going forward, though, he could have done better, with his touches being too heavy at times – ultimately contributing towards him losing the ball 17 times.
Luka Modric: 6/10
Starting in an unusual deeper role, Modric dictated play well in the first half, linking up superbly with Martin Odegaard. Post the break, however, the veteran Croat was overpowered and overrun in midfield, as Villarreal started pressing intensely. His prowess on the ball was unmatched (2 passes misplaced), but defensively he could have arguably fared better.
Toni Kroos: 6/10
Much like Modric, Kroos pulled the strings smartly in the first period, even stitching together a couple of key passes. However, the German international was left stunned by the intensity of the Villarreal press in the second half, with one instance seeing him lose the ball just outside the box. Should be better when he returns to his natural role.
Lucas Vazquez: 5/10
After playing as a right-back for much of the past month, Vazquez was back in his favoured right wing slot. The Spaniard started the game well, putting in the hard yards on and off the ball. But, his end product was lacking, especially when Mariano fed him with a fine opening.
Martin Odegaard: 6/10
Odegaard was a breath of fresh air in the hole for the first 45 minutes, showing some crisp touches and linking up well with Modric, Kroos and Mariano. However, he faded post the interval and was the first player to be taken off. Still building up his sharpness after some time off the pitch.
Eden Hazard: 4/10
Having recovered from the coronavirus, Hazard was thrown straight into the deep end. The Belgian winger seemed to have made a decent enough start, showing his trademark touches. But, he was the constant target of the Villarreal defenders, which curbed his creative instincts significantly. Still some way off peak fitness.
Mariano Diaz: 8/10
Mariano's first goal for Real Madrid since March ⚪ pic.twitter.com/jf9hvpFslw
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Given a rare chance to impress, Mariano grabbed his opportunity with both hands, getting on to the score sheet just moments into the game. Easily the best attacking player for Real Madrid even apart from his beautifully caressed header. One solo run that created an opening for Lucas Vazquez stood out and he constantly looked to take the Villarreal defenders on. Making the most of his chance.
Vinicius Jr.: 5/10
On for Hazard, Vinicius Jr. continued in pretty much the same vein, creating nothing and failing to take a shot. Not doing himself any favours with such a cameo.
On for Odegaard, Isco’s performance left a lot to be desired; so much so that keeping Odegaard on would have been the correct decision by Zidane.
Marco Asensio: N/A
A late introduction, Asensio was involved in one half-chance that Real Madrid created, but did not see a lot of the ball otherwise.