Luka Modric put in a near-perfect display while his opposite number, Koke, struggled as Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 in La Liga on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid made a strong start in El Derbi against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu and looked dangerous in the early exchanges. However, all the hosts needed was one slick move to take the lead as Luka Modric won the ball at the halfway line and started a counter which ended with Karim Benzema producing a picturesque volley to make it 1-0.
Real Madrid pretty much controlled proceedings from that point on until the half-time break, although Thibaut Courtois did get called into action through a free kick from Antoine Griezmann. At the restart, Diego Simeone made a couple of changes, with one of the substitutes, Joao Felix, looking lively and causing problems to the home team early on.
However, much like what had happened in the first half, Real Madrid produced another swift counter that cut through Atletico like a knife through butter, with Marco Asensio finding the back of the net to make it 2-0. The second goal knocked the winds out of the sails for the reigning champions, who could not carve out any chances as Carlo Ancelotti & co. saw out the game comfortably to bag a crucial win.
The result sees Real Madrid stretch their lead at the top to eight points over second-placed Sevilla, while Atletico remain in fourth place, 13 points off their neighbours and arch-rivals. Here’s how we rated the performances of both sets of players on an eventful night at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid Player Ratings
Thibaut Courtois: 8.5/10
4 – @realmadriden have kept a clean sheet in four @LaLigaEN home games in a row against Atlético de Madrid for the first time ever, all four with Thibaut Courtois 🇧🇪 as goalkeeper (11 saves/11 shots on target faced – 6/6 in this derby). Giant. pic.twitter.com/vxJ0s2a9rh
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 12, 2021
The Real Madrid No. 1 pulled off a fine save to deny Griezmann in the first period and then went on to produce a string of key stops in the second half to keep Atletico at bay and secure his fourth clean sheet in a row. Such an asset between the sticks.
Dani Carvajal: 6.5/10
The Spanish right-back had a tricky outing on the night as the likes of Joao Felix, and Thomas Lemar caused him some problems. However, he held his defensive discipline, although that meant his attacking contributions were restricted. He was taken off late in the game.
Eder Militao: 8/10
Yet another imposing display at the heart of the Real Madrid defence from the Brazilian, who did not give Antoine Griezmann a sniff at the goal. Strong in his challenges, as usual, Militao was solid on the ground and in the air, kept things tight at the back, even when the visitors tried to drag him out wide. He was assured with the ball at his feet.
David Alaba: 7.5/10
Like Militao, Alaba too had a solid outing in which he nullified the threat of the Atletico Madrid forwards for large parts. There were one or two moments when he was slow on the ball, but otherwise, it was another impressive display from the Austrian, whose reading of the situations ensured that he was never caught out.
Ferland Mendy: 7.5/10
The Frenchman had to deal with the threat of Angel Correa and the overlapping Marcos Llorente in the first half, which he did well, with some support from Alaba. Mendy was also a good outlet going forward on the left side and had some nice moments of link-up with Vinicius Junior.
Luka Modric: 9.5/10
“I hugged Luka Modrić and congratulated him because he was extraordinary. His game was incredible”. ⚪️🇭🇷 #RealMadrid
Carlo Ancelotti’s pushing for Modrić contract extension until June 2023.
It will be discussed soon – and it’s expected to be completed in the next months. pic.twitter.com/54JaGbMXpM
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 12, 2021
What a player! Absolutely superlative on the night as he ran the show for Real Madrid on the pitch from start to finish. While he may not have scored or assisted a goal on the night, Modric was absolutely unstoppable in everything he did. From dropping deep to help out defensively to recovering possession regularly and starting attacks with precise forward passes or driving runs, the Croatian did it all and did it exceedingly well.
Modric won back and possession and started the move for the opening goal, and was always available to receive a pass from his teammates. At the same time, his composure when on the ball helped the Merengues control proceedings in the latter stages of the game. He finished with four dribbles, three interceptions, two tackles and a 90% pass completion rate. He received a huge standing ovation from the fans, and deservedly so.
Having been a bit scruffy in recent matches, the Brazilian enforcer stepped up for this big game and delivered one of his better performances of the season. He got stuck in and went toe-to-toe with the physical Atletico players, not giving them an inch in the middle of the park. Did the dirty work in midfield, was neat and tidy on the ball and ensured that his team came away with a clean sheet.
Toni Kroos: 7.5/10
Atletico Madrid specifically targeted the German international in the early proceedings as they tried to press him high and foul him to disrupt Real Madrid’s rhythm. Looked a bit flustered early on as a result but settled in well as the game wore on and showed his quality with some masterful distribution throughout the game while he was not shy of digging in and doing the defensive work.
Marco Asensio: 7.5/10
Given the nod over Rodrygo Goes, Asensio posed a threat on the break and played a role in the buildup to the opening goal, as he fed the ball to Vinicius, who found Benzema in the box. The Spaniard had a great chance to double Real Madrid’s lead in the second period but took time to pull the trigger. However, he made amends with a fine finish later on to make it 2-0 and seal the result.
Karim Benzema: 7.5/10
He made himself available for selection despite having picked up an injury last weekend, and even though he played for just 45 minutes, Benzema made sure to leave his mark on the game. He opened the scoring for Real Madrid with a stunning volley, with the goal coming at a critical time as Atletico Madrid were looking dangerous. Had some nice moments of interplay in the final third and worked hard off the ball before being withdrawn at half-time.
Karim Benzema volleys home the cross from Vinicius Jr. 👏 pic.twitter.com/L9mxA2YtbD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 12, 2021
Vinicius Junior: 8/10
Another lively display from the Brazilian even though Marcos Llorente made life difficult for him. The Brazilian looked a threat each time he got on the ball and laid on the assists for both the goals his team scored on the night. He was also handy with his defensive work on the night, making a team-high four tackles to help Los Blancos grab a win. He was taken off to a rousing ovation.
Luka Jovic: 6.5/10
The Serbian replaced Benzema at half-time and had a decent enough outing. He was involved in the buildup to the second goal as he held up the ball well before laying it off for Vinicius, who set Asensio up.
Nacho Fernandez: N/A
Subbed on for Carvajal with less than ten minutes left.
Federico Valverde: N/A
Replaced Asensio for the last five minutes.
Rodrygo Goes: N/A
Late substitute for Vinicius.
Atletico Madrid Player Ratings
Jan Oblak: 6/10
There wasn’t much that Oblak could have done about either Real Madrid goal on the night. He did make one stop to deny Vinicius Junior and could have been more accurate with his kicking from the back.
Marcos Llorente: 5.5/10
Starting at right-back on his return to his former club, Llorente had the difficult task of keeping Vinicius quiet. While he was not entirely outplayed by the Brazilian, the Spaniard did have a tough time dealing with the Real Madrid star. He made a few forward runs and hit one or two dangerous crosses but was largely subdued.
Llorente doing really well to keep up with Vinicius, one of our own. #RealMadridAtleti
— 𝙺𝚊𝚛𝚖𝚊 ☯️ (@kmr_karma) December 12, 2021
The Brazilian won his fair share of headed duels and affected a game-high five clearances while making a couple of interceptions as well. However, he struggled to cope with the speed of Real Madrid’s counters and was caught out of position for the second goal, while he lacked the quality while on the ball as well.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: 5/10
Starting as a makeshift centre-back, Kondogbia was aggressive in his defending and often stepped out from the back at speed to cut out attacks, making four tackles and interceptions each on the night. However, he was easily held off by Jovic in the lead-up to the second goal and failed to influence proceedings when pushed higher up the pitch in the latter stages.
Mario Hermoso: 4/10
While the Spaniard offers accuracy with his distribution, he left a lot to be desired with his defensive nous as he was dragged way in-field in the lead-up to Asensio’s strike in the second half. Never really inspires confidence at the back.
Angel Correa: 5/10
Slotting in on the right flank, the Argentine tried to get stuck in from the get-go, showing aggression in his tackles while attempting to push forward with the ball. But things did not work out for him as he failed to make any impact.
Rodrigo De Paul: 3/10
He showed good intensity in the early exchanges when Atletico Madrid began well, but it was all downhill from that point on as he was left chasing shadows, with the Real Madrid midfielders playing around him with great ease.
Again this happened & Real Madrid scored
Koke is directly responsible for Benzema's goal https://t.co/nivxT0qfdA
— ᴀᴛʟᴇᴛɪᴄᴀɴ 🇲🇨 (@Atletican1) December 12, 2021
It has to be one of the Atletico Madrid skipper’s worst performances in a long time. He gave away the ball to Modric, sparking the move that led to Benzema’s goal and was constantly outplayed and overwhelmed by the Real Madrid midfield trio. Koke struggled to deal with their movement and passes and was unable to get a foothold into the game.
Yannick Carrasco: 3/10
The Belgian international hardly did anything of note in the opening exchanges and failed to test the ageing Dani Carvajal on his flank. Unsurprisingly, he was one of the players that Simeone took off at half-time.
Matheus Cunha: 5/10
The summer signing showed glimpses of quality with some of his movement and worked very hard off the ball. But he lacked the service to pose a significant threat to Real Madrid. Did have an attempt at goal, which Courtois saved.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
Failed to get the better of Eder Militao in the early exchanges, but the Frenchman did manage to force a top save from Courtois from a free-kick. Made way for Joao Felix at half-time.
Joao Felix: 6.5/10
Livened things up after replacing Griezmann. Displayed some neat skills and produced a few nice passes to carve out openings while he tested Courtois on a couple of occasions.
Regardless of the result, João Félix has been excellent. Not just this game but also the season as a whole. Now is his time to be a starter again and prove to the world what he really is.
— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) December 12, 2021
Thomas Lemar: 5.5/10
Improved things after replacing Carrasco at half-time. His dribbling and ability to make driving forward runs caused Real Madrid some issues. However, he faded with time.
Luis Suarez: 4/10
On for Cunha in the 60th minute. He was involved in a verbal altercation with David Alaba, which earned him a booking.
Renan Lodi: 4/10
Replaced Correa for the final thirty minutes. Failed to provide much of an outlet on the left.
Hector Herrera: 5.5/10
Came on for De Paul in the 69th minute. He played a key pass and had a shot on target.