Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior stood out as Real Madrid grabbed a hard-fought 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid endured a difficult first half as RB Leipzig withstood the hosts’ threat while looking to hit them on the counter. Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg came close to scoring for the German outfit in the opening 45 minutes, with Timo Werner being more of an orchestrator.

The second half progressed in a similar fashion, with Real Madrid struggling to engineer the openings, despite Vinicius Junior’s bests attempts. But the Merengues, as they so often do, found a way to find the back of the net, with Vinicius finding Federico Valverde in acres of space. And the Uruguayan international was composed enough to break the deadlock with a low effort.

Real Madrid now had the momentum and sealed the deal in injury time thanks to a thumping effort by Marco Asensio, who produced a first-time shot from a cleverly worked free-kick routine by Toni Kroos.

The result leaves Real Madrid clear atop the the Group F standings with six points, with RB Leipzig yet to get off the mark in this season’s UEFA Champions League. With that, Real Madrid’s perfect start to the 2022/23 campaign continued, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Thibaut Courtois: 7/10

Courtois was pivotal in earning Real Madrid the three points, as he put his body on the line to keep the ball out of his net and conserve a clean sheet. The Belgian international made three solid stops while barely misplacing a pass in another top-notch performance.

Dani Carvajal: 6/10

The two Real Madrid full-backs were rather conservative in their offensive approach, and Dani Carvajal never looked like he would make a mark in the final third. But he dealt with Christopher Nkunku’s threat fairly well, apart from a few hiccups in the first half.

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Rudiger is growing into his role at Real Madrid. And he was instrumental in keeping RB Leipzig’s star striker and former Chelsea teammate Timo Werner quiet. At the same time, the German international helped build play from the back, completing 94 per cent of his attempted passes.

Nacho: 7/10

With David Alaba moving to the left-back slot, Nacho earned a rare start for Real Madrid while donning the armband in Karim Benzema’s absence. And the skipper was at his best on the night, keeping a lid on Timo Werner while pushing Real Madrid forward with purpose. He remains a valuable asset for Ancelotti.

David Alaba: 6/10

Alaba moved to the left-back spot against RB Leipzig and smartly contained Dominik Szoboszlai. But he did not have the qualities to pose a threat from the left flank, as he often did when he was regularly featuring as a left-back at Bayern Munich. It is clear that he is better suited to the centre-back role now unless the situation demands a more pragmatic approach from a left-back.

Luka Modric: 6/10

Modric was here, there, and everywhere and never stopped running around the pitch. But he did not possess the cutting edge on the night to slice open the RB Leipzig defence. However, he will unlikely get some rest on the weekend, considering Atletico Madrid will come visiting at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 7/10

Tchouameni was a cut above most of his teammates on Wednesday, continuing his solid start to life as a Real Madrid player. The French international made some crunching tackles while winning five duels and completing 92 per cent of his attempted passes in what was another superb all-round showing.

Eduardo Camavinga: 6/10

Camavinga has not hit the ground running in the first month of the 2022/23 season, and he continued to blow hot and cold on Wednesday. The French midfielder barely misplaced a pass but did not have the desired qualities to craft the openings in the final third as Toni Kroos can. But he put in the hard yards off the ball and helped negate RB Leipzig’s threat.

Federico Valverde: 8/10

Valverde started on the right flank, as is often the case in games against the most dangerous opponents. The Uruguayan international ably supported Carvajal and helped keep RB Leipzig quiet on his side as much as he could.

Valverde looked in great touch, even setting up a big chance for Vinicius, who later cleared his dues by setting up the young midfielder. And Valverde made no error in breaking the deadlock, scoring in a second successive game with a peach of a strike.

Rodrygo Goes: 6/10

It seems as though the player who starts through the middle for Real Madrid in Karim Benzema’s is cursed to produce a sub-par performance on that day. After Eden Hazard on the weekend, it was Rodrygo’s turn to go missing, with the role robbing him of his best qualities. Unsurprisingly, he looked sluggish at times and will hope to return to the right-wing soon.

Vinicius Junior: 8/10

Vinicius Junior was not as lively as he is on most days, with some of his touches being wasteful. However, the Brazilian international always looked the likeliest to make things happen, and he unsurprisingly set Valverde up for the opener by taking multiple defenders out of the play. But he should have buried one big chance that came his way earlier in the game.

SUBSTITUTES

Marco Asensio: 7/10

Asensio finally got an opportunity to make his mark by getting around half an hour on the pitch. And the Spanish international looked intent on stamping his authority, even though he did not see the ball as much as he would have liked. Nonetheless, Asensio was instrumental in earning the win, producing a thumping first-time effort to get his 50th goal for Real Madrid.

Toni Kroos: N/A

Kroos got a breather on Wednesday but still made his mark in a cameo, finding Asensio with a crisp, low pass from the indirect free-kick before the Spaniard sealed the three points.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Mendy managed just ten touches in the game’s final stages, but he was instrumental in the second goal as he won the free-kick that Kroos laid off for Asensio.

Dani Ceballos: N/A

Ceballos did not get involved enough in the final few minutes, although he completed all his attempted passes.

Mariano Diaz: N/A

Mariano barely saw the ball in the final five minutes, even though Real Madrid dominated the proceedings.

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