Inspiring performances from Toni Kroos and Luka Modric enabled a welcome 4-1 win for Real Madrid against Deportivo Alaves.
Defending La Liga champions Real Madrid sustained pressure on league leaders Atletico Madrid with a convincing 4-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
Despite the absence of their COVID-19 affected manager, Zinedine Zidane, Los Merengues had a field day against Alaves, completely dominating the first-half, in particular. They created multiple scoring opportunities and their direct style of play was simply breathtaking to watch, with goals from Karim Benzema, Casemiro and Eden Hazard helping th attain an unassailable 3-0 lead at half-time.
It prompted Abelardo to make three changes during the interval. The move worked, to an extent, as Alaves pulled one back through Joselu’s header around the hour mark. However, It did not take long for Real Madrid to restore their three-goal cushion as Benzema netted his brace in the 70th minute through yet another exquisite finish – effectively sealing all three points for Los Blancos.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Real Madrid players following their comfortable victory against Deportivo Alaves this weekend.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
It was a routine evening for Thibaut Courtois in between the sticks. The Real Madrid goalkeeper did not have too much to do, but always stepped up to the plate whenever he was needed, notably making a couple of important saves. He will be disappointed to have missed out on his clean sheet, though.
Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10
Lucas Vazquez had a comfortable game against Alaves. He remained solid in defence, helping out his fellow defenders whenever it was required. The Spaniard fared well in the offensive department as well and even featured as an out and out winger during the latter stages of the game.
Eder Militao: 7.5/10
Eder Militao conceded the foul and later failed to mark Joselu, ultimately leading to the Alaves goal around the hour mark. It was a dent in an otherwise comfortable defensive display.
Raphael Varane: 7.5/10
Raphael Varane simply had to step up in the absence of Sergio Ramos and that he did. The Frenchman was quite useful for Real Madrid as far as the build-up play is concerned, using his ability to find diagonal passes or passes in between the lines, to good effect. In addition, Varane remained strong in dealing with the Alaves attackers, thus keeping them at bay for the large parts of the game.
Raphael Varane against Alaves:
• 94% pass accuracy
• 4 clearances
• 3 interceptions
• 2 blocked shots
• 0 times dribbled past
• 2/2 aerial duels won
• 1/1 ground duels won
• 6/6 long balls completed
• 73 touches
AMAZING performance for Rapha and a great match for Real. pic.twitter.com/OW1uBWkU5w
— Captain Varane (@captainvarane) January 23, 2021
Ferland Mendy: 7.5/10
Ferland Mendy impressed the onlookers with his pace and tenacity on the opposite flank. He made a host of runs in behind the backline and was even close to finding Benzema for an early goal, but his cross was intercepted. He was not exactly extraordinary, but it was certainly enough to unsettle the Alaves backline.
Toni Kroos: 10/10
Toni Kroos was by far the best player of this match. The German simply ran the show in the middle of the park, particularly with his long forward balls which were simply exquisite to watch. He notably assisted Casemiro’s opener with a perfect corner kick before an incredible lofted pass towards Hazard led to the third, just before half-time.
The former Bayern Munich barely looked uncomfortable in possession – making it difficult for Alaves to spark a comeback with their intensity. Deserves a perfect ten.
📊Toni Kroos vs Deportivo Alaves
Toni Kroos completed the most passes (90) in the match.
Toni Kroos created the most chances (6) in the match.
Toni Kroos was the most accurate passer (96%) to play 45 minutes or more.
BEST MIDFIELDER ON THE PITCH!
— Toni Kroos Plus (@ToniKroosPlus) January 23, 2021
Casemiro had a rocky start to the game, looking sloppy in possession. However, he eventually found his feet and even scored the all-important opener with a smart header around the 15th-minute mark. Aside from the goal, the defensive midfielder did what he does best – clearing out loose balls in midfield and neutralising any potential counter-attacking opportunities.
Luka Modric: 9.5/10
Luka Modric partnered up with Kroos to cause a lot of problems for the Alaves backline with their defence-threading forward passes. The Croat was just simply too good, despite his age. In addition to the passes, he looked comfortable in acting as the ball-carrier, thus helping his team sustain the pressure on the opposition. Also registered the late assist for Benzema’s second goal.
Marco Asensio: 6.5/10
Marco Asensio had a relatively quiet evening compared to all his teammates. He wasn’t involved enough to cause too many problems for the opposition, perhaps due to the fact that he had to operate on the right flank rather than his preferred left.
Karim Benzema: 9.5/10
It was another impactful performance from Karim Benzema, whose intelligence, productivity and technical prowess made it difficult for Alaves defenders to settle into the game. The Frenchman was too good, especially with his runs behind the defence. He was ultimately rewarded with two well-taken goals that extend his tally to ten in the league this season.
— Ardi (@Brfutbolgames) January 23, 2021
Eden Hazard: 9/10
Eden Hazard produced one of his best performances in the all-white kit. He was a menace on the flanks for the opposition, using his trickery and intelligence to good effect. The former Chelsea man provided excellent ball-progression in the final third while his delightful flick to Benzema led to the second goal of the night. Scored one himself during the dying moments of the first half.
Vinicius Junior: 6/10
Vinicius Junior came on for Hazard around the hour-mark in order to provide more freshness into the Real Madrid attack. However, the Brazilian didn’t find much luck penetration the opposition, who were definitely more resilient in the second half.
Alvaro Odriozola: 6/10
Replaced the tiring Modric in the 77th minute, prompting a host of tactical changes in the Real Madrid setup. He allowed Lucas to play in further forward and kept things in check during the final phase of the game.
A late replacement for Asensio, though he wasn’t able to fare any better in the final 15 minutes of the game.