Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde impressed while Lionel Messi had a quiet night as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 in the El Clasico on Saturday.

It took just 13 minutes for Real Madrid to draw first blood in this monumental encounter against Barcelona as Karim Benzema turned home a Lucas Vazquez cross with a brilliant backheel effort. Fifteen minutes later, the reigning champions doubled their lead as Toni Kroos’s free-kick ended up in the back of the net via a deflection from Sergino Dest.

It could have been 3-0 soon after, but Federico Valverde’s effort bounced off the woodwork while Barcelona also struck the post through Lionel Messi’s free-kick on the cusp of half-time before being denied by Thibaut Courtois. At the hour mark, though, the Catalans halved the deficit as Oscar Mingueza thumped in Jordi Alba’s cross.

Real Madrid struck the post again, this time through Vinicius Junior while Barcelona continued to push in search of an equaliser, with Alba and Ilaix Moriba coming close. There was late drama as the Catalans felt they were not awarded a penalty for a push on Martin Braithwaite while Casemiro was sent off for a second bookable offence, whereas Moriba struck the crossbar in stoppage time.

Nevertheless, Real Madrid held on to their narrow lead to clinch a huge win that sent them to the top of the La Liga table, leaving Barcelona trailing by two points. Here’s how we rated the performances of both sets of players on the night at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

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Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois: 6.5/10

Not a lot he could have done about Mingueza’s goal. Made a couple of key saves on either side of half-time and will count himself lucky that Messi’s free-kick in the first half and Moriba’s late effort bounced off the woodwork.

Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10

Looked up for it from kick-off as he was alert to any threat defensively and always eager to raid forward. Delivered an accurate cross to assist Benzema for the opening goal. Had to be taken off injured right before half-time after a rough challenge from Sergio Busquets.

Eder Militao: 7/10

Continued his good run of form with another solid display at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Hardly allowed an inch to the Barcelona attacker for most of the game and withstood the late pressure to help his team over the line. Impressive.

Nacho: 7/10

Took over the mantle of the leader of the Ral Madrid defence, organised things well at the back. Stuck close to Messi and ensured that the Barcelona captain was quiet. Booked for a challenge on the Argentine.

Ferland Mendy: 6/10

Fairly solid at the back, although there were a few nervy moments in the penalty box. Made some driving runs but was not able to have the same kind of impact as Vazquez with his overlapping runs. Could have gotten tighter to Mingueza for the goal.

Federico Valverde: 8/10

A surprise selection but an inspired one by Zidane. Made a brilliant line-breaking run before releasing Vazquez in the build-up to the first goal. Struck the woodwork soon after. Ensured that Alba did not pose the same level of threat on the flank by keeping a close watch on him. Worked tirelessly throughout his time on the pitch.

Casemiro: 7.5/10

Screening the backline, the Brazilian was strong and aggressive in his approach as he constantly broke up play in the middle of the park, keeping Barcelona from threatening the Real Madrid goal. Made a game-high five interceptions and four tackles. Two quick bookings late on meant he was sent off which cuts into his rating.

Toni Kroos: 8/10

Did not see a lot of the ball, but made great use of it each time he was in possession, launching counter-attacks, trying to find his teammates in dangerous positions. Got the all-important second goal with a deflected free-kick which eventually proved to be the match-winner. Finished with one key pass.

Luka Modric: 7.5/10

Great energy throughout the game, makes one wonder if he is really 35 years old. Carved out chances for the attackers and was always willing to drop deep and make up numbers at the back to thwart Barcelona’s attacks. Made one tackle and interception each.

Karim Benzema: 8/10

Absolutely sublime skill to open the scoring with a lovely backheel. Linked up well with those around him, made some dangerous runs and also managed one key pass. In the form of his life.

Vinicius Junior: 7/10

Building on his brilliant display against Liverpool, the Brazilian was a lively presence again for Real Madrid. Got forward well and looked a threat each time he did so. Decision-making was not always spot on, but still managed a game-high three key passes and won the free-kick from which Kroos scored.

SUBSTITUTES

Alvaro Odriozola: 6/10

Replacing Vazquez just before half-time, the Spaniard was always going to be targeted by Barcelona. Did keep things tight for most parts, although there were times he was caught out of position.

Marco Asensio: 6/10

Surprisingly left out of the side despite his recent form, Asensio replaced Valverde soon after Barcelona scored. Could not get into the game a great deal, though, with Real Madrid defending deep for the final portion of the contest. Still managed to play a couple of key passes.

Isco: 6/10

On for Kroos in the 72nd minute. Tried to find openings when on the ball, worked extremely hard off it.

Marcelo: 6/10

Replaced Vinicius with less than 20 minutes left. Used his experience to help Real Madrid see through the game.

Mariano Diaz: 5.5/10

On for Benzema, Mariano won a couple of aerial duels but did not do much of note.

Barcelona

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10

Could not have done much about either goal that Real Madrid scored on the night. Distributed well out from the back, misplacing just one of his 29 passes, while also playing a key pass.

Oscar Mingueza: 6.5/10

Had struggled up against Vinicius Junior defensively throughout the game when found in 1v1 situations. Composed on the ball, completing 96% of his passes and offered a glimmer of hope to Barcelona with his thumping strike in the second half.

Ronald Araujo: 5/10

Making his first start since returning from injury, the Uruguayan looked a bit scratchy at times. Should have been tighter to Benzema for the first goal and then gave away the free-kick from which Kroos scored the second.

Clement Lenglet: 5/10

The senior member of the Barcelona backline, Lenglet failed to step up. Was sloppy at times on the ball which ended up putting his teammates under pressure.

Sergino Dest: 5/10

Having been in good form of late, the USMNT star was well off his best on Saturday. Did not offer anything going forward and left Mingueza exposed against Vinicius time and again. Taken off at half-time.

Frenkie de Jong: 6/10

Back into the middle of the park after having played the last few games in defence, the Dutchman looked a threat when carrying the ball forward, as he completed three dribbles. However, not everything he tried worked out as planned.

Sergio Busquets: 5.5/10

Found it hard to cope with the energy and dynamism of the Real Madrid midfield. Did make a couple of interceptions and tackles each, while misplacing just nine of 79 attempted passes.

Pedri: 6/10

Booked early in the first half for a foul on Casemiro. Did not let it affect him as he moved around the final third trying to make things happen. Played a couple of key passes but they did not lead to anything.

Jordi Alba: 6.5/10

Needed to do better in the build-up to Real Madrid’s first goal. Did not get much joy while going forward in the first half. Looked more of a menace after the break and got the assist for Mingueza’s goal. Finished with two key passes.

Lionel Messi: 6/10

In what could potentially be his last El Clasico, Messi failed to make a telling impact. Struck the woodwork from a free-kick in the first period and that was as close as he got to the Real Madrid goal. Did create a chance or two for his teammates, had seven shots and completed a game-high seven dribbles but couldn’t drag his team back into the game.

Ousmane Dembele: 5/10

Endured a disappointing first half where he hardly got involved. Showed signs of improvement after the break but was not enough to help Barcelona make a comeback.

SUBSTITUTES

Antoine Griezmann: 6/10

Replaced Dest at half-time. Neat dummy in the buildup to Mingueza’s goal.

Sergi Roberto: 6/10

Made his return from injury, replacing Busquets in the 64th minute. Played one key pass and misplaced just one of his 19 passes.

Ilaix Moriba: 6/10

On for Araujo in the 72nd minute. Lively, came agonisingly close to the equaliser, striking the crossbar in stoppage time.

Martin Braithwaite: N/A

Came on for Dembele for the last ten minutes. Had a penalty claim turned down.

Francisco Trincao: N/A

Replaced Pedri in the 81st minute.

One Response to “Real Madrid vs Barcelona Player Ratings: 8/10 for impressive Benzema, Valverde; Ineffective Messi gets 6”

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  1. Hala Madrid ,we are still lookin more win

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