Karim Benzema was the star of the show as Real Madrid eased past Cadiz 3-0 on Wednesday night to move to the top of the La Liga standings.
Having slipped up against Getafe last time out, it was imperative that Real Madrid get back to winning ways against Cadiz at Estadio Ramon de Carranza. Both teams had early chances but it was the reigning champions that broke the deadlock after 30 minutes as Karim Benzema dispatched a cool penalty after Vinicius Junior had been fouled inside the hosts’ box.
Three minutes later Real Madrid doubled their lead as Alvaro Odriozola connected with a sublime cross from Benzema to turn it home before the Frenchman scored his second of the night and Los Blancos’ third in the 40th minute, heading in a cross from Casemiro to put the game to bed.
Post the half-time break, Real Madrid controlled the game without really creating much. Cadiz did push forward at times in search of a goal but none were forthcoming and the champions held on for a crucial win that sends them to the top of the standings ahead of Atletico Madrid’s clash against Huesca on Thursday. Here’s how we rated the performances of Zinedine Zidane’s men on the night.
Thibaut Courtois: 6.5/10
Largely untroubled on the night, the Belgian shot-stopper was called on to make a few regulation stops, which he did without any problems. Misplaced just two of his 22 attempted passes.
Eder Militao: 7/10
Another solid game for Militao who has been absolutely top-notch in recent weeks. Allowed very little to get past him while being purposeful when on the ball. Should have done better with a headed chance early in the game, though.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Back into the lineup after having recovered from coronavirus, Varane slotted in at the heart of the Madrid defence and marshaled things well. Picked up a booking for blocking a goal kick from the opposition in the first half which was the only blot on his copybook. Finished with four clearances and three headed duels won.
When Nacho and Militao have been our starting CB’s, we’ve only conceded 2 goals in 5 games.
Underrated duo. pic.twitter.com/vAC9crKpkH
— ᴊᴀʏʏᴀʀʀʀ (@jayyarrrRm_) April 21, 2021
Returning into the side after serving out his one-game ban, Nacho once again showed why he is valued so highly by Zidane. Has taken over the mantle of the leader at the back in Sergio Ramos’ absence and put in another commanding display on Wednesday. Made three clearances and interceptions each and started the move for Madrid’s second goal by winning the ball back high up the pitch.
Alvaro Odriozola: 7/10
With Lucas Vazquez unavailable and Dani Carvajal being eased back into action, Odriozola got a chance to impress and he did exactly that. While his attacking play was not always up to the mark, the Spaniard still provided a decent outlet. Took his goal well to make it 2-0 in the first half. Played one key pass before being withdrawn around the hour mark.
Antonio Blanco: 8/10
Making his full debut for Real Madrid, the young midfielder showed why he is so highly-rated by the club. Exuded calmness and composure when on the ball and picked the right pass more often than not, with his release of Marcelo for an attack particularly standing out.
Off the ball, Blanco put in the hard yards and knew when to stay back and push forward, dovetailing effectively with Casemiro. Also had a pop at the Cadiz goal. Ended with 92% passes completed, two interceptions and a tackle.
📊 | Antonio Blanco's performance vs. Cádiz:
93.2% passing accuracy
2 accurate long balls
2 blocked shots
Not bad for a first start in LaLiga. 💎 pic.twitter.com/FcdxYxgegD
— 𝗥𝗠𝗢𝗻𝗹𝘆 (@ReaIMadridOnly) April 21, 2021
Back in the side after serving out his suspension, the Brazilian had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders in the absence of both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Did not get outweighed by it as he broke up play effectively, offered a protection to the defence while also having the quality on the ball to impact proceedings going forward. Nice chipped cross to assist Benzema’s second of the night right after he had sent a shot over.
An energetic performance from the veteran star, who was handed the captain’s armband for the night. Got forward with purpose when on the ball and looked to snuff out any threat during the defensive phase, making a game-high five tackles. Managed to create one chance as well, before making way for Miguel Gutierrez in the second half.
Rodrygo Goes: 6.5/10
Starting out on the right, the Brazilian attacker was a lively presence and posed a threat when he got on the ball and ran at the opposition. While he may not have had a direct hand in any of the three goals, Rodrygo still managed to display some neat link-up with those around him in the final third. Decent performance.
Karim Benzema: 9/10
Karim Benzema in the first half vs. Cadiz:
2 chances created
2 shots on target
Involved in all three goals. 💪 pic.twitter.com/iRjhrYBazz
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 21, 2021
Having been left out of the lineup against Getafe, Benzema was brought back into the side for Wednesday’s game and the difference he makes was evident from the early minutes. Calm from the penalty spot to get the ball rolling for Real Madrid before setting Odriozola up with a fine cross.
Got his second of the night soon after with a good header and could have had another assist in between had Casemiro taken his chance. Apart from the goals and assists, his link-up play on point throughout while Benzema worked extremely hard off the ball as well.
Vinicius Junior: 7/10
Like Rodrygo, Vinicius was a livewire whenever he had the ball at his feet and ran at the Cadiz defence. One such fine run led to him winning the penalty that Benzema scored to make it 1-0. Despite the promise, there were some issues with his end product and decision-making at times that needs some serious polishing.
Dani Carvajal: 6/10
Made his return to action after close to two months out on the sidelines. Looked solid in his thirty-minute run out, making one key pass.
On for Odriozola in the 61st minute, the Spaniard did not get involved a great deal and as a result, barely made an impact.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Replaced Vinicius for the final thirty minutes, adding more freshness to the attack. Played one key pass and was involved in a neat attacking move late on.
Miguel Gutierrez: N/A
The highly-rated left-back, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League, made his first-team debut replacing Marcelo for the last fifteen minutes.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
On for Benzema for the final fifteen minutes.