Real Madrid kicked off their LaLiga title defence with an away victory against UD Almeria. The hosts held their own for the first half, frustrating Los Blancos to just a handful of mediocre chances in front of goal.
Despite their best efforts, the Champions League winners met nothing but blocks for most of the first half, while being a goal down.
In the second period, with Almeria’s energy levels going down, Los Merengues capitalised on the mistakes made by their rivals’ defence to score two and grab a difficult victory.
Join Madrid Universal as we explore how each of the players fared in this episode of the player ratings.
Thibaut Courtois: 7
The Belgian conceded a difficult strike against Largie Ramazani early into the game, however, for the remainder of the encounter, he held his own rather commendably.
Lucas Vazquez: 8.5
At right-back in place of Dani Carvajal, Vazquez did a sensational job in defence and attack. His positioning severely mitigated Almerua’s threat, and in the second half, he started the comeback with an instinctive finish to draw the game level.
Antonio Rudiger: 5.5
Rudiger had quite a rude awakening on his LaLiga debut. Sadiq and Ramazani caused him immense problems, and in the first half, it was he who kept the latter onside to open the scoring. Far from the debut, he would have wanted, but there are more games to come.
Like Rudiger, his performance initially was quite poor. In the second half, as he grew in confidence, his levels also improved.
Ferland Mendy: 4.5
Like a fish out of water, Mendy was incredibly uncomfortable at left-back. Much like his game against Frankfurt in midweek, he was very shaky, made careless mistakes, and detracted far more than he added to the team.
Eduardo Camavinga: 5.5
In the first half, the Frenchman suffered under pressure. His decision-making ability was completely off the expected levels, as he carelessly lost the ball. His needless yellow card ended a quite poor half from Camavinga.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 6
Far from the best debut in the world, however, Tchouameni did have a handful of good moments. The Frenchman, especially in the second half, tried to link up with his teammates better, particularly with Vinicius, who owned the right wing. Some issues pertained to chemistry which will surely be fixed over time.
Toni Kroos: 7.5
The German was one of the very few people whose performance was worth writing home about. His creativity was unparalleled, and only a marginal offside deprived him of what would have been an exquisite assist in the first half.
Fede Valverde: 7.5
With the Uruguayan, there is hardly any way that Real Madrid can go wrong. His energy down the right flank caused endless trouble for the American Almería defence, as not only did he attack but also press valiantly.
Karim Benzema: 6.5
Arguably the world’s best player in the world, and in a quiet game by his very high standards, he still contributed to the team. The Frenchman’s link-up play was phenomenal, and he eventually grabbed the assist to start the comeback.
Could have had a goal or two to his name on any other day, though, as his finishing was far from his usual standards.
Vinicius Junior: 9.5
Almost all of Real Madrid’s attacks have one thing in common: the name Vinicius Jr. No goal, not even an assist, but a relentless threat down the left channel by the Brazilian.
According to La Liga, more than 35 of Los Blancos‘ attacks were in one way or another created by him. His dribble led to the opener, and had Benzema’s finishing been just a tad bit better, he would have had a couple of assists to his name.
Luka Modric: 7
Upon his entry, the Croatian added some much-needed stability to the Madrid midfield.
Eden Hazard: 7
Playing as a false 9, he combined well with his teammates in the final third. While not direct, he did have slight contributions to both goals Madrid scored.
David Alaba: 7.5
What a way to start the season for the Austrian. With his first touch of the game, Alaba scored a freekick to complete Real Madrid’s comeback
Dani Ceballos: N/A
He played far too few minutes to be considered for a rating.
He played far too few minutes to be considered for a rating.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna
After a two-week hiatus from club football, Real Madrid return to action on Sunday night in a home game against Osasuna. The league leaders have been unstoppable so far this season, and the objective at the Bernabeu will be to keep their fine form going.
Jagoba Arrasate’s side have enjoyed a positive start to the season with four wins in six games so far. The Pamplona-based side sit sixth in the league standings ahead of the likes of Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti will make several changes in his starting lineup on the night – some forced and some out of choice. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.
1. Time to kick in the nitros
Real Madrid have been flawless this season and are the only club in the European top-flight to have not dropped a single point. While their start to the season has been nothing short of a fairytale, one wonders how long they can keep the magical streak going.
The month of October brings with it one of the most hectic schedules the club has seen in recent years. Over the next 30 days, Los Blancos play nine games across all competitions. In short, the equation boils down to a game every three days.
To come out on top in all nine games will require a superhuman effort from the Real Madrid players, but one knows well that the squad is capable of it. The team are in a strong headspace, and injecting the right amount of fuel at this point could propel their throttle and see them weather the storm.
A job well begun is half done, and Carlo Ancelotti will hope that his men can make a strong start to the month on Sunday night.
2. Coping without Modric
The FIFA International break has been cruel to clubs across the globe, with several key players returning injured and facing several weeks on the sidelines. The story for Real Madrid is no different.
Luka Modric played every minute of Croatia’s two friendlies in the last two weeks and even scored a goal in their 3-1 win over Austria. However, he suffered an injury to his hip and faces 8-10 days on the sidelines.
The veteran, at 37 years of age, has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player this season. In eight games, he has scored two goals and provided one assist for Los Blancos and continues to show the world why he is one of the best the game has seen.
Modric is expected to return for the Clasico in two weeks. However, one cannot help but wonder how Ancelotti compensates for such a big void.
It has been reported that the manager sees Dani Ceballos as the ideal man for the job. The 26-year-old impressed when given the start against Mallorca earlier this season, making four key passes and bagging one assist. Now, he could have his moment and a chance to prove his worth to the manager.
In Modric’s absence, Ceballos could start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos in the middle of the park. With Eduardo Camavinga quickly climbing up the pecking order, the 26-year-old must make the most of his chance on Sunday to secure a place in the coming games.
3. The return of the gladiator
After a slow start to the season, Karim Benzema bounced back with a brace against Espanyol on Matchday three. Just when it seemed like he had found his stride, however, he suffered a thigh injury and was ruled out for close to three weeks.
While the team found alternate sources of goals in his absence, it was clear that Los Blancos lacked a dominant presence in the box in recent weeks. With Benzema’s recovery close to complete, all eyes will be on him to see if he can find his feet again.
In his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that the French international would start on Sunday though it is unlikely that he will play all 90 minutes. Nevertheless, this comes as a big relief to Real Madrid, given that they have no natural replacement for the centre-forward.
The captain will look to make a statement on his return on Sunday and will likely be deployed alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.