Real Madrid 1-1 Girona: Player Ratings
Real Madrid dropped points for the second time in as many games at the Bernabeu on Sunday evening. The men in white were expected to run away with the game against Girona and return to winning ways after the midweek defeat. Yet, it turns out that the weekends clash just smeared salt onto their wounds.
Vinicius Jr gave his team the lead in the 70th minute but Girona struck back from the penalty spot through Christian Stuani ten minutes later. The game had no dearth of drama, with several refereeing decisions going against the hosts in the closing minutes.
Despite the draw, Real Madrid gold onto the first spot on the La Liga standings but now have just a slender one-point lead over Barcelona. Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Real Madrid’s draw against Girona.
Thibaut Courtois: 8
The Belgian is not just back to business but back in form in just his third game after his return. Was not called into action in the first half but made a crucial save after the hour mark to deny Valery Fernandez in a one vs one duel.
Daniel Carvajal: 6.5
A relatively solid performance from the veteran right-back. Took on Girona’s most dangerous player Valery head-to-head on the right side and did well to limit the play down his flank. Also created two chances and had one shot on goal.
Antonio Rudiger: 6.5
Flawless in distribution, strong and reliable in defence. Made three clearances and six recoveries in defence, winning one ground duel and 100% of his attempted aerial duels on the night.
David Alaba: 6.5
Formed a formidable combination with Rudiger and made seven defensive interventions in 90 minutes. No flamboyant moments but also did not put a foot wrong.
Ferland Mendy: 6.5
Very little contribution in the final third once again, but was rock-solid in defence. Made seven recoveries, one headed clearance and two clearances to keep Yan Couto at bay. Also won 100% of his duels.
Luka Modric: 7.5
A magical night for the Croatian international, providing a whopping five key passes on the night. He was at the centre of every Real Madrid attack, orchestrating the team’s movement and the ball progression.
Eduardo Camavinga: 6.5
Played as the defensive midfielder on the night after Aurelien Tchouameni faced muscular discomfort ahead of kickoff. The youngster did well to adjust to a relatively new role and completed eight defensive actions in his 61 minutes. Eventually came off for Marco Asensio.
Toni Kroos: 4
Kroos endured a frustrating night but was not short in quality. He recorded 108 touches against Girona with an accuracy of 96%. Further, he made two key passes and completed ten long balls. However, the German lunged into two unnecessary poor challenges out of pure frustration and eventually saw the red card.
Federico Valverde: 7.5
Once again a phenomenal display. Coming back from injury, he recorded three shots on the night, made two key passes and created one big chance.
His biggest contribution on the night came in the form of a lovely cross-field pass to Vinicius Jr across the face of the goal to pioneer Los Blancos’ opening goal.
Started the game as a centre-forward in Karim Benzema’s absence. While he could not completely fill the void left by the Frenchman, Rodrygo was a constant threat to the goal and tested Gazzaniga time and time again.
Had three shots on target and missed two glaringly clear chances. Scored one goal in the dying minutes but had it ruled out because he kicked it from the goalkeeper’s hand.
Vinicius Jr: 8.5
Was a thorn in the feet of the visitors throughout the game, getting under their skin for his antics both on and off the ball. Vinicius danced past the helpless Girona defence repeatedly and was the key to unlocking the tight defence.
Eventually got onto the end of Valverde’s cross to score the team’s opening goal and continued to create threats even after the visitors’ equaliser.
Marco Asensio: 5
Missed a clear chance to double Real Madrid’s lead just minutes after Vinicius’ goal. Later gave away a penalty that brought Girona back into the game.
Eder Militao: N/A
Came on in the 87th minute, and does not warrant a rating.
Made only one accurate pass in 13 minutes but created a big chance that led to Rodrygo’s disallowed goal. No other significant contribution.
Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | La Liga
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona on their first trip to Spotify Camp Nou after more than a year.
The Catalans had not won against the Merengues at home since 2018 ahead of the game but a clutch goal from Franck Kessie helped them turn around the record.
Vinicius Jr opened the scoring early in the game by forcing an error and own goal from Ronald Araujo. The hosts levelled the score in the 45th minute through Sergi Roberto, before the winner arrived in stoppage time.
The game was not without its share of controversy as Real Madrid had a goal disallowed for offside that Ancelotti felt was unfair. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the fourth Clasico of the season.
1. Quality of full-backs
Real Madrid have etched their names into history as one of the most deadly counter-attacking teams in world football. Their pacey transitions and shifts of play have traditionally progressed through the wing with unreal speed to catch the opponent off-guard even in a momentary lapse in concentration.
Needless to say, the full-backs have always worked in tandem with the team’s wingers to make such speedy counters possible. The glaring problem at Real Madrid currently is that their full-backs do not provide half as much as they need to.
Los Blancos’ counterattack now seemingly consists of only Vinicius Jr on the left wing making a quick transition to find Karim Benzema. With just one outlet, it is difficult for the men in white to be effective.
The story at Spotify Camp Nou was very similar. Dani Carvajal started as the right-back and had a good showing defensively. Yet, he was virtually absent in the final third and left Real Madrid’s right-wing lifeless. In ninety minutes, he managed no crosses or long balls and had just one key pass.
The story at left-back was equally, if not more abysmal. Nacho Fernandez was the candidate deployed in the position and could also not manage a single cross, long ball or key pass on the night. He was eventually substituted for Ferland Mendy but the Frenchman could not do much either.
The difference in the quality of full-backs between Barcelona and Ancelotti’s side is gaping. The Catalans blazed through the wings on the night with Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde who constantly got forward in attack to stretch the men in white. In response, Real Madrid had nothing.
2. A dead right-wing and lack of intensity
It is imperative for any top football team to have the resources to attack both wings, for it is the constant switching of play that triggers errors from the opposition. For a club like Real Madrid to not have such resources is criminal.
The game against Barcelona was completely predictable given that the Merengues’ right wing was nonexistent. Any attack, almost surely, had to come down Vinicius’ wing and this made Barcelona’s defensive work easier.
Dani Carvajal was barely involved in the final third against the Catalans. That, coupled with Federico Valverde’s atrocious showing as the right-winger removed one side of the field from Real Madrid’s game.
Valverde made just 27 passes in 76 minutes and failed to make a single cross on the night. Further, he recorded just one key pass and one accurate long ball in El Clasico.
When Marco Asensio came on for Los Blancos, the equation completely turned around. The winger came on as a direct replacement for Valverde and happened to score the disallowed goal that was millimetres from giving Real Madrid three points.
More importantly, the move for the aforementioned goal was completely down the right flank, a testament to the alarming situation.
3. Goodbye La Liga?
When the clock at Spotify Camp Nou struck 81 minutes, the race for La Liga seemed to be on. Real Madrid had just scored a possible winner and had cut short their deficit with Barcelona to just six points.
Ten minutes later, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts. Their lead atop the league standings was suddenly twelve points with just 12 games to go.
History is witness that counting out Real Madrid does not fare well. However, it is difficult to surpass the supposition that the 12-point gap is too wide to bridge.
Los Blancos will continue to fight in the league, but Ancelotti will likely preserve his weapons for the UEFA Champions League where they face a bigger chance at glory.