Karim Benzema was the star of the show while Eden Hazard and David Alaba also impressed as Real Madrid beat Deportivo Alaves 4-1 on Saturday.
Real Madrid made the perfect start to Carlo Ancelotti’s second stint as the manager, as they defeated Deportivo Alaves 4-1 away from home in the first game of the 2021/22 La Liga on Saturday night.
The first half was not much to write home about as the chances came few and far between for both teams. Real Madrid saw efforts from Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, and surprise starter Gareth Bale go wide while Pere Pons shot onto the roof of the net for Alaves.
Things changed after the break, though, with Benzema finding the back of the net just three minutes in, after some neat footwork from Hazard. Eight minutes later, Nacho, the most senior defender left in the ranks, added a second to put Real Madrid on their way before Benzema doubled his tally on the night in the 62nd minute to put the result beyond doubt.
Alaves did get to pull a goal back as a careless mistake from Eder Militao led to Thibaut Courtois giving away a penalty which Joselu tucked in. Substitute Vinicius Junior, however, reinstated Real Madrid’s three-goal lead in stoppage time, turning home David Alaba’s cross to bag three points and send Los Blancos to the top of the table.
Here are our player ratings for the Real Madrid stars following an impressive performance at Estadio de Mendizorrotza.
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
Had a fairly comfortable outing until Militao’s poor backpass forced him into fouling John Guidetti leading to the penalty for Alaves. Went the wrong way for Joselu’s spot-kick. Barely tested otherwise.
Lucas Vazquez: 6.5/10
There were signs of ring-rust, but the Spaniard gave a good account of himself starting at right-back again. Showed intent going forward and was involved in the lead-up to the opener. Did not let much past him at the back.
As mentioned earlier, Nacho is now the seniormost centre-back at Real Madrid and took the onus of the leadership upon him against Alaves. Did well to keep the threat of former teammate Joselu under wraps, making a number of interceptions and strong tackles. Then took his goal well in the second half to set his team on their way.
Eder Militao: 5/10
Had a fairly solid first half, but things did not go his way after the break. Poor back pass led to the penalty, after which he seemed to lose his composure and looked flustered when he had the ball at his feet. Showed he can be a key cog for Real Madrid towards the end of the last season and needs to put this display behind soon.
David Alaba: 8/10
Debut + assist. ✅
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) August 14, 2021
Starting at left-back in the absence of Marcelo and Ferland Mendy, the summer signing proved why he will be an asset for Real Madrid. So solid defensively, and even when he did get caught out once or twice, recovered well. Provided an outlet going forward as well, rounding off with the assist for Vinicius’ goal.
Federico Valverde: 7/10
A bright spark in the middle of the park, especially after the first half. Full of energy and intent, Valverde worked hard at both ends of the pitch and played a huge role in Benzema’s second goal of the night, as he made a surging run forward before setting up the Frenchman, whose initial shot was stopped before he converted from the rebound.
Not one of his most dominant displays but did what was asked of him, as the Brazilian broke up play intelligently in the middle of the park. His distribution was a tad bit shoddy on the night, however.
Luka Modric: 8/10
Nacho: “The goal is more of Luka (Modric) than mine. He is the maestro” pic.twitter.com/RbFldB9Kgp
— Real Madrid Info ³⁴ (@RMadridInfo) August 14, 2021
Real Madrid’s ageless wonder continued in his impressive ways yet again. Kept the team ticking along with his slick touches, forward runs and precise passes, set Nacho up for the all-important second goal. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well when required to.
Gareth Bale: 6.5/10
It is certainly a strange feeling to see Gareth Bale start for Real Madrid again after the ups and downs under Zinedine Zidane in recent years. And while he was far from his best on Saturday, the Welshman showed he still has plenty left to offer. Had some neat moments of link-up with Benzema, took aim at goal from outside the box on a couple of occasions. Can be deadly once he hits top form.
Karim Benzema: 9/10
With Lionel Messi no longer in La Liga, Benzema will have his eyes on the Pichichi Trophy for the season, and he made a remarkable start. Put Real Madrid in front early in the second half before making it 3-0 to put the game to bed, converting a rebound after his initial effort was stopped. Having been handed the captain’s armband in Marcelo’s absence, the Frenchman led from the front and will be crucial to Ancelotti’s plans.
The first goal-scorer of Carlo Ancelotti's first Real Madrid stint:
– Karim Benzema.
The first scorer of Carlo Ancelotti's second stint:
– Karim Benzema. pic.twitter.com/pxoXIVXY3O
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 14, 2021
Eden Hazard: 8/10
Will this be the year that Eden Hazard shows up at Real Madrid? The early signs look certainly promising. Neat interplay with those around him and set Benzema up for the opener with a delectable backheel. Played a little over 60 minutes and completed three key passes. Will now need to stay fit and build on this performance.
Vinicius Junior: 7.5/10
On for Hazard in the 66th minute, the Brazilian meant business from the word go. His pace caused Alaves all sorts of problems. Created a fine chance for Rodrygo before going on to score one himself in stoppage time.
Rodrygo Goes: 6/10
Replaced Bale in the 68th minute. Used the ball well, looked purposeful without really standing out. Could not get on the end of Vinicius’ cross.
Late substitute for Valverde.
Marco Asensio: N/A
Late substitute for Modric.
Luka Jovic: N/A
On for Benzema in the 89th minute.