Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema ran riot over the Valencia defence as Real Madrid secured a comprehensive 4-1 victory on Saturday.

Real Madrid return to winning ways in Laliga by brushing aside Valencia 4-1 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. The comprehensive victory at home helps them momentarily extend their lead at the top to eight points, although second-placed Sevilla do have a couple of games in hand.

It was a dominating display from Los Blancos, as they kept Valencia on the back foot for a large portion of the game. They looked hungry in front of goal and consistently created goalscoring opportunities. In many ways, Valencia were lucky not to trail at half-time by more than a goal margin, with the only breakthrough of the first-half coming from a Karim Benzema penalty in the 43rd minute.

Real Madrid were far more effective in front of goal in the second half. In the 52nd minute of the game, the returning Vinicius Junior netted his first goal of 2022 thanks to a silky solo run before doubling his tally nine minutes later. His quick-fire brace was enough to seal three points for Los Blancos, although Goncalo Guedes’ strike in the 76th minute offered a glimmer of hope for the visitors.

The hope didn’t last long as Benzema soon re-instated his team’s three-goal lead by netting his second of the night in the 88th minute. It helped secure a morale-boosting win for Real Madrid ahead of their scheduled El Clasico match-up on Wednesday.

Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Real Madrid players in their comprehensive 4-1 victory over Valencia this weekend.

Thibaut Courtois: 8/10

Thibaut Courtois produced a wonderful display of goalkeeping on Saturday night. He made one of the saves of the season by denying Daniel Wass in the second half. He followed it up with a penalty save to deny Goncalo Guedes but could not do much to keep out the rebound. Nevertheless, it was a majestic performance from the Real Madrid shot-stopper, who is certainly among the best in the world right now.

Lucas Vazquez: 7.5/10

Lucas Vazquez had a busy down on the right flank where he had to keep a close eye on the marauding Jose Gaya. The makeshift right-back did a fantastic job of keeping the Valencia captain quiet while linking up with Marco Asensio to make life difficult for the opposition defenders. He is indeed an able alternative for Dani Carvajal.

Eder Militao: 7.5/10

Eder Militao had a vital role to play in Real Madrid’s build-up play. The centre-back offered a series of incisive forward passes, even producing a few diagonal balls to find his compatriot Vinicius behind the Valencia backline. Militao is seemingly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the heart of Los Merengues defence.

David Alaba: 7/10

While Militao was in charge of offering the forward passes in the build-up play, David Alaba’s experience and intuition were vital in keeping tabs on Valencia forwards. The Austrian international’s contributions were crucial in stifling the impact of Maxi Gomez, while the defender also looked secure in possession, barely losing the ball in the build-up.

Ferland Mendy: 7.5/10

Ferland Mendy was a useful attacking outlet on the left flank for the home side this weekend. His marauding runs and seemingly telepathic combination play with Vinicius caused a myriad of problems for the Valencia backline. However, the left-back was culpable for conceding the only goal for Valencia when he fouled Marcos Andre inside the box. It proved to be a major dent in what was a fantastic offensive display.

Luka Modric: 8/10

Real Madrid’s very own midfield maestro, Luka Modric once again dominated the game using his passing, technical prowess and the ability to act as a ball-carrier. His presence in midfield made it seemingly impossible for Valencia to create enough turnovers, whereas the Croat’s progressive running was key in helping his side maintain pressure on the opposition.

Casemiro: 7.5/10

Casemiro was the one to draw the foul that earned Real Madrid’s late first-half penalty. It was a gritty display from the Brazilian, as one would expect. He was solid off the ball and showed no weakness in the build-up play, even exhibiting ambition with his driving runs into the final third.

Toni Kroos: 7.5/10

Toni Kroos controlled the game and orchestrated most of Real Madrid’s possession play with his secure passing and ability to hold on to the ball. The German never seemed vulnerable in possession, with his presence serving as the catalyst for Real Madrid’s dominance in the attacking third of the pitch.

Marco Asensio: 8/10

Marco Asensio took the initiative of trying to keep Valencia busy with his intelligent movement and the ability to link up with teammates in the final third. His combination play with Vazquez made life difficult for the opposition defenders, while the attacker was also involved in most of Real Madrid’s offensive moments.

Karim Benzema: 9/10

Karim Benzema produced an excellent display and a much-needed one after his shocker against Getafe. The Frenchman was innovative as ever, making intelligent movements in the final third while showcasing his technical prowess by linking up with teammates. He scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid late in the first half, when he converted the spot-kick won by Casemiro.

Benzema played a crucial role in building up attacking opportunities for his side in the second half before eventually doubling his tally late in the game.

Vinicius Junior: 9/10

Vinicius Junior’s return to the Real Madrid lineup was always going to be a huge bonus for Carlo Ancelotti. It was exactly the case on Saturday, when the Brazilian’s nifty footwork, skill, and lethal pace proved to be too much for the Valencia defence.

He exhibited incredible commitment by scoring his first goal in the 52nd minute before doubling his tally with a simple header around the hour mark. The youngster is seemingly establishing himself as one of the best in the business.

SUBSTITUTES

Dani Ceballos: 7/10

Dani Ceballos replaced Modric in the 70th minute of the game. He added more freshness in the Real Madrid midfield, helping his team keep up the intensity.

Eduardo Camavinga: 7/10

Eduardo Camavinga replaced Casemiro during the final phase of the game. He offered security in midfield and barely looked troubled in possession.

Nacho Fernandez: N/A

A late replacement for Vazquez. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Federico Valverde: N/A

A late replacement for Vinicius. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Isco: N/A

A late replacement for Benzema. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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