Real Madrid began the defence of their UEFA Champions League crown with a 3-0 win away to Celtic, with Eden Hazard and Federico Valverde shining.
It was always going to be a difficult evening to play at a packed Celtic Park, with the audience eager to welcome back UEFA Champions League football after a seemingly long hiatus. Real Madrid found out why all the pre-game talk was around the toughness of this fixture, although they were fortunate to get all three points.
Celtic were the dominant side in the first period but ran out of steam in the second half. Real Madrid showcased their immense experience to conjure up results that look comfortable on the scoreboard, but this victory was far from it.
Real Madrid had Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba to thank for keeping the first half scoreless. Celtic had a few good opportunities to get a goal or may be two in the period, but the Belgian and the Austrian were the heroes for the Blancos.
Additionally, Karim Benzema limped off, which had Carlo Ancelotti sweating. But the Real Madrid manager will have been encouraged by the performance of substitute Eden Hazard. The former Chelsea talisman had his best game in a Real Madrid shirt since his high-profile move and will hope to keep this up.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 6, 2022
However, it was Federico Valverde who was Real Madrid’s best player by a mile. He set up Vinicius Jr. for the opener in the second half, while Luka Modric and Hazard added the next goals to wrap up the three points. It is the kind of start Ancelotti wanted, and here’s how the Real Madrid stars fared in their 0-3 win over Celtic.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
Courtois was alert of Celtic’s fluid movements in the final third and denied Liel Abada and Reo Hatate in the opening period. He was fortunate to see Callum McGregor’s strike hit the post, although he was much relaxed in the second period when the outfield players controlled the game.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 6, 2022
Dani Carvajal: 6.5/10
Carvajal did not have the finest of evenings, but he was composed in his position. After early attacking moves from Celtic, the right-back was more comfortable in the second period after his team took the lead; and he got an assist for Eden Hazard’s strike late on.
Eder Militao: 5/10
Militao would want to forget this evening quickly after being put to test by Celtic’s attackers, who took advantage of his sloppiness in possession. He was subbed off injured at the break, with Antonio Rudiger performing much better in his place. And the German may replace him from here on.
David Alaba: 8/10
Real Madrid will be grateful for Alaba to keep the score at 0-0 in the opening exchanges. The Austrian defender was alert enough to thwart advances from Celtic’s attackers, who could have easily scored once or twice had it not been for the defender.
Ferland Mendy: 5/10
Mendy was put through a stern test by Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda later on, and the left-back was wobbly throughout the evening. He would be grateful for his defensive partner Alaba and goalkeeper to paper over the cracks he displayed.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5/10
Tchouameni was mellow by his standards, as he kept the ball ticking without doing anything extraordinary. He is still a reliable presence and is expected to grow into this team as the season progresses.
Luka Modric: 7.5/10
After a below par display in the first period, Modric came to life in the second half when Real Madrid had much more of the game’s control. The Croat capped off this evening with a good goal to double his team’s advantage.
More silverware for Toni Kroos 🏆 pic.twitter.com/4t3RqfHoCn
— GOAL (@goal) September 6, 2022
Toni Kross: 7/10
Kroos kept the team ticking even when Real Madrid struggled briefly in the first period. He played a good role in the build-up to the third goal, laying down the key pass for Carvajal to assist Hazard.
Federico Valverde: 9/10
A superb inclusion in the team, as Valverde put in a masterclass performance. The Uruguayan international set up the opening goal for Vinicius Jr. with a superb low cross and brought life into the attack when the team desperately needed someone with his talents.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
Celtic enjoyed most of the possession during Benzema’s half hour or so on the pitch. But the Frenchman will leave Ancelotti sweating over his fitness as he limped off and got replaced by Eden Hazard.
Vinicius Junior: 7/10
In typical Vinicius Junior fashion, the Brazilian brought life into the game, after being on the periphery for most parts. He tends to enjoy the role of a destroyer when the opposition are gassed out, and that is what he did against Celtic; also scored the opener.
Eden Hazard: 8/10
Hazard had his best game in a Real Madrid shirt by a mile, as the Belgian international was a problem for Celtic. He set up the second goal for Modric and then scored one himself after some good work from Kroos and Carvajal.
Eden Hazard vs. Celtic:
▪️ Subbed on in the 30th minute for injured Benzema
▪️ Pass to Valverde who assisted Vinicius for Real Madrid’s first goal
▪️ Assisted Modrić’s goal
▪️ Scored Madrid’s third
Vintage performance ✨ pic.twitter.com/obs5fk6wFz
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 6, 2022
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Rudiger’s presence at the back certainly improved the overall demenaour of the defence. He looked at home after replacing the injured Militao at half-time and soon enough, all of Real Madrid’s sloppiness at the back evaporated.
Eduardo Camavinga: 6/10
Camavinga replaced Tchouameni midway through the second period and kept control of the midfield proceedings.
Rodrygo Goes: 5/10
Rodrygo replaced Vinicius and kept things ticking on the wing. However, he is not as effective on the left flank as much as he can change outcomes from the opposite side.
Marco Asensio: N/A
He came on with ten minutes to go and barely had an impact to get a rating.