Toni Kroos and Luka Modric dominated the game once again as Real Madrid strolled through Valencia on Sunday.
Real Madrid restored their three-point lead over FC Barcelona and continued to put pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid with a comfortable 2-0 win over Valencia on Sunday, at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
It was a straightforward result for the home side, who didn’t have to labour too much for a victory. They dominated the game right from the beginning, creating a plethora of opportunities against a Valencia side that looked quite passive, to say the least.
The visitors also struggled to provide too much of a threat going forward, amassing a total of just one shot on target in the entire game. Real Madrid, in contrast, managed seven and were rewarded with two first-half goals scored by Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos respectively.
Although Los Blancos failed to extend their lead in the second half, they dominated the game nonetheless, preventing Valencia from making any comeback. It was ultimately a comfortable victory for the hosts who have now regained their second place in the league table, although their arch-rivals Barcelona do have a game in hand.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Real Madrid outfit in their win over Valencia this weekend.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
Thibaut Courtois had very little to do in a game that saw Valencia struggle to craft even a single clear-cut scoring opportunity. That said, the Belgian was alert to deny Maxi Gomez from long-range. It was the only save he had to make, so the Real Madrid ‘keeper will be happy with the clean sheet.
Daniel Carvajal: N/A
It was always a risk from Zinedine Zidane’s to rush Daniel Carvajal back into the starting eleven. The right-back was performing well but pulled up just before the half-hour mark, forcing him to be subbed off. Zidane will hope his injury won’t be too serious with matches coming thick and fast. Hard to rate his performance.
Up to 2017, Carvajal had missed just 24 matches in his whole career due to injury.
Since then, it's 57 games missed and counting.
— Euan McTear (@emctear) February 14, 2021
Raphael Varane: 8/10
In the absence of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane stepped up to the plate, marshalling the Real Madrid backline with his defensive prowess. Indeed, he was a rock at the back, barely allowing the likes of Gomez and Manu Vallejo to cause any threat in the final third. The Frenchman is certainly an appealing leadership candidate for Real Madrid as they prepare for life without Ramos next season.
Nacho Fernandez: 7.5/10
Nacho Fernandez offered excellent support to Varane to help keep Real Madrid solid at the back and retain the clean sheet. He was perhaps not as effective in duels as his defensive partner, but the experienced defender did the job done nonetheless. It is often understated as to how good a backup he really is.
Ferland Mendy: 8.5/10
It was yet another impressive performance from Ferland Mendy, whose marauding runs into the opposition half made life difficult for the Valencia defenders. He even scored a goal in the second half that was ruled out by VAR while the left-back had very little to do defensively as the opposition barely caused any problems.
Luka Modric: 9/10
Luka Modric once again instigated the play for the home side, threading exquisite forward passes from the midfield area. His ability to carry the ball also made it easier for his team to navigate through Valencia’s second line of press, which was key in boosting the overall chance-creation in the final third. Another excellent performance from the ageing Croat, who keeps on delivering for Zidane and his men this season.
The fact that Valencia struggled to create many opportunities indicates the influence Casemiro really had in this game. The holding midfielder remained strong in his position, mopping up loose balls and neutralising any counter-attacking opportunities. He also threatened going forward, notably forcing a save from the goalkeeper in the first half.
Toni Kroos: 9/10
It was yet another excellent performance from Toni Kroos, who orchestrated the play in the middle of the park. His assurance in possession and overall ball-distribution was key in helping Real Madrid get the upper hand throughout the entirety of the game. The former Bayern Munich man also ventured forward whenever it was required, capping off his display with a goal just before half-time.
Toni Kroos’ game by numbers vs. Valencia:
94% pass accuracy (101/107)
69 passes in opp. half
7 ball recoveries
6 penalty area entries
4 chances created
2 duels won
1 shot on target
Kroos control. pic.twitter.com/lOuMEqyCK9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 14, 2021
Marco Asensio: 7.5/10
Marco Asensio did a decent job in the final third, keeping the defence occupied with his link-up play and ability to take on opposing defenders. He had a part to play in the build-up towards Kroos’ goal just before half-time while the Spaniard was also quite influential in a host of forays down the flanks.
Karim Benzema: 8.5/10
While Real Madrid did create a host of chances in the first half, it was Karim Benzema’s calculated strike from distance that broke the deadlock. The goal summed off the striker’s performance in this game as he worked hard not only to double his own tally but also help his teammates get more freedom in the final third. He is indeed one of the most complete strikers in Europe.
Karim Benzema has now scored 33 La Liga goals since the start of last season.
Only Lionel Messi (40) has scored more in that time. pic.twitter.com/qbGCGahGSm
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 14, 2021
Vinicius Junior: 7/10
Vinicius Junior was perhaps not as impressive as his attacking teammates but did provide the pace and dynamism that was crucial in keeping the defence occupied. Nothing too extraordinary, however.
Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10
Lucas Vazquez replaced the injured Carvajal in the 28th minute and proceeded to enjoy an excellent game on the flank. He was involved in the build-up that led to Kroos’ goal. He should have started the game in the first place.
Sergio Arribas: 7/10
The youngster made an appearance in the 71st minute when he replaced Asensio. Had one shot on goal and looked quite lively.
A late replacement for Modric. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
A late replacement for Benzema. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.