Vinicius Junior was among the players who stood out as Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.
The two teams looked tentative in the early exchanges, with the heated nature of a derby shining through. But Real Madrid grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck after the opening quarter of an hour and duly broke the deadlock in the 18th minute. Rodrygo Goes combined beautifully with Aurelien Tchouameni before producing a composed finish to hand Real Madrid the lead.
Atletico Madrid threatened on the break but hardly ever troubled Thibaut Courtois enough in the first half. But Real Madrid doubled the advantage in the 36th minute as Vinicius Junior smashed the woodwork after a neat exchange with Luka Modric before the rebound fell kindly to Federico Valverde, who converted the opening from an acute angle for the second goal.
The hosts barely posed a threat on the break after that, and Real Madrid remained in control for much of the proceedings in the final hour. But the second half was a subdued affair, with clear-cut chances coming few and far between, but Real Madrid failed to keep a clean sheet, with Atletico Madrid scoring late in regulation time.
Mario Hermoso scored a goal he knew nothing about from a corner, with the ball going in off his shoulder. There was time for some late drama, albeit not the kind that Atletico Madrid would have liked as Hermoso got sent off for a second bookable offence by shoving Dani Ceballos. The result keeps Real Madrid on top of La Liga, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
🎙️ @MrAncelotti: "There are things that can be improved. That's normal. But the truth is I can't ask the team for anything more. They've won every single match so far. We are very happy and I'm very proud to coach these players."#AtletiRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/QHFksc0G72
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 18, 2022
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
Courtois barely had anything to do inside his box but struggled to claim aerial balls coming in from the flanks. That was also the case when Mario Hermoso scored late in regulation time to pull a goal back for Atletico Madrid, denying the Real Madrid goalkeeper a clean sheet.
Dani Carvajal: 8/10
Carvajal rolled back the years and produced a top-class performance at the back, neutralising Yannick Carrasco and Joao Felix. The Spanish international won five duels while completing three interceptions. At the same time, he hardly misplaced a pass and successfully took on an opposition player when the opportunity presented itself.
Eder Militao: 6/10
Eder Militao was solid at the back and negated Joao Felix’s threat superbly, never letting the Atletico Madrid striker express himself. The Brazilian international also opened play nicely with a few long passes but inadvertently played his part in Atletico Madrid’s goal as he directed the ball towards Hermoso, who knew nothing about the strike.
David Alaba: 6/10
With Real Madrid firmly in control of the proceedings, Alaba was barely troubled and looked to build play from the back efficiently. The Austrian international also looked to win the ball higher up the pitch, completing three interceptions.
Ferland Mendy: 6/10
Mendy was decent enough at the back, even if unspectacular. The Frenchman faced a couple of nervy moments against Marcos Llorente and Antoine Griezmman but generally handled the duo expertly. However, he was not influential enough in the final third and needed to show more creativity.
Luka Modric: 8/10
Modric donned the armband for Real Madrid in Karim Benzema’s absence, and he was the perfect leader for Los Blancos. The Croat completed most of his attempted passes while creating a couple of chances. He also opened play nicely with a few long balls while never shying away from his defensive duties.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 8/10
2 – At 22 years and 234 days, Aurélien Tchouaméni 🇫🇷 is the second youngest @realmadriden player to provide an assist in his first LaLiga derby against Atlético de Madrid in the 21st century, after Karim Benzema 🇫🇷 in November 2009 (21 years and 323 days). Machine. pic.twitter.com/rJWAXuzPJe
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 18, 2022
Tchouameni continued to look at ease at the base of the Real Madrid midfield, producing another top-notch performance from the middle of the park. The French midfielder circulated possession quickly and precisely while looking solid off the ball. The cherry on top was the delightful pass to release Rodrygo Goes for the opener, with Tchouameni showing his brilliant all-round game.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Kroos was typically accurate with the ball at his feet, showing perfect synergy with Modric when Real Madrid heaped the pressure on Atletico Madrid. His defensive output, at times, could have been slightly better. But Kroos helped Real Madrid remain on top due to his precision.
Federico Valverde: 8/10
VALVERDE HAS SCORED THREE GAMES IN A ROW 📈 pic.twitter.com/wHH2dczbWe
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 18, 2022
Valverde continued to be a revelation on the right flank, producing another top-notch display, this time against Atletico Madrid. The Uruguayan international put together an all-action display, helping Dani Carvajal (seven duels won) while pushing Real Madrid forward at every opportunity.
The icing on the cake for his calm finish, the goal being his third strike in as many games. Valverde is on course to complete Ancelotti’s challenge of scoring ten goals in the 2022/23 season.
Rodrygo Goes: 8/10
Rodrygo Goes started through the middle again in Karim Benzema’s absence, and he made his mark by opening the scoring for Real Madrid. The Brazilian attacker did not just finish the move but was also heavily involved in the build-up before Tchouameni set him up. He somewhat faded ahead of his substitution, but this was another step in the right direction.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 18, 2022
Vinicius Junior: 8/10
Vinicius Jr. did not produce a vintage performance but was still influential enough to help deliver the three points for Real Madrid. The Brazilian international has stepped up marvellously in Benzema’s absence, and he has become every bit as important as the French striker.
Antonio Rudiger: N/A
Rudiger replaced Mendy with 15 minutes left on the clock, and he slotted in seamlessly at left-back for Real Madrid, also making some crucial interventions.
Eduardo Camavinga: N/A
Camaviga helped Real Madrid see the game out after Hermoso’s late goal.
Marco Asensio: N/A
Asensio barely saw the ball during his nine-minute cameo.
Dani Ceballos: N/A
Ceballos did not see much of the ball during his outing but got Hermoso sent off in injury time.