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Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol: Player Ratings

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid hosted Espanyol in Saturday’s early kickoff in their 25th league game of the season. Los Blancos were without Karim Benzema on the day and were dealt a fresh blow when Antonio Rudiger was deemed unfit to start ahead of the game.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men went behind early on in the game through Joselu’s wonder finish and were under pressure in the opening period. However, they did not lose control once they took over after the 15-minute mark.

Vinicius Jr and Eder Militao were on point later in the first half before Marco Asensio scored a third to give the Merengues all three points. The win over the Catalans brings Real Madrid within six points of Barcelona who play Athletic Club on Sunday.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Real Madrid’s game on Saturday.

Thibaut Courtois: 7

Not much the Belgian could do about Espanyol’s opening goal for he was brutally let down by his defence during the move. Yet, he made crucial saves in the opening period to prevent his side from going two goals down.

Dani Carvajal: 7

The right-back had an impressive first half, putting pressure on Espanyol’s makeshift left-back Leandro Cabrera. Made timely runs into the box and overlapped with Fede Valverde on the right to create threats. Completed the game with 15 defensive actions.

Eder Militao: 8.5

Was on the mark as early as the second minute to block Martin Braithwaite’s clear chance. Had his moment later in the half when he got onto the end of Aurelien Tchouameni’s pass to give the hosts the lead.

The Brazilian was solid defensively and completed close to 85% of his passes in the first half.

Nacho Fernandez: 8

Antonio Rudiger’s fitness troubles forced Nacho to start as a centre-back as opposed to the initially expected right-back position. Was confident and reassured defensively with clean distribution.

Covered for Camavinga defensively and moved to left-back for the final stretch. He was also responsible for the team’s third goal with a good run through Espanyol’s core.

Eduardo Camavinga: 6.5

Disappointing as a left-back, easily beaten by Ruben Sanchez for the opening goal. In addition to sloppy defence, he played the goalscorer Joselu onside. Was all over the place in his own area and did not contribute much to the attack either.

Moved to the midfield for the final part of the game and things improved for him.

Toni Kroos: 8

Kroos made his 400th appearance for the club on the night and became just the sixth non-Spanish player to reach that mark. Made two key passes and completed all eight attempted long balls in the first half.

The German was at the centre of every Real Madrid buildup and was instrumental in switching play between the flanks. Was a whisker away from scoring with a long-range shot in the 70th minute. Came off in the 73rd minute.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 7.5

Lost the ball that resulted in Joselu’s counter-attacking goal but made amends later in the half with a wonderful assist for Eder Militao’s goal. The French international lobbed a ball from the left side straight to the far post where the Brazilian pounced and scored.

Was safe in possession in the second half. Came off for the final 15 minutes having completed 95% of his passes and a whopping 16 successful defensive actions.

Luka Modric: 7

A relatively quiet but perfect outing for the Croatian international in the first period. Completed 100% of his attempted passes, crosses, long balls, dribbles and duels won at the halfway stage in addition to providing two key passes. Was more involved in the second period but came off for Asensio in the 71st minute.

Modric and Valverde were solid. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Federico Valverde: 7

The Uruguayan did not have the best of starts to the game but came to life after Espanyol’s left-back was booked. Combined well with Carvajal to generate danger on the right wing and made central runs to create spaces. Had a slow start to the second period and never got going again.

Moved to the midfield for the final part of the game.

Rodrygo: 6.5

The 22-year-old started as the centre-forward but often switched to the left flank to help with the buildup. Came close to scoring in the first half with a well-worked shot from outside the box.

Hit the crossbar with a fabulous free kick in the second half but was relatively quiet otherwise.

Vinicius Jr: 9

The Brazilian brought out his magic boots on the night to score Real Madrid’s equaliser. Starting on the left wing, he dribbled past the defence into the box and shot the ball into the far bottom corner in a stunning solo move.

Was the team’s best player in the final third by far in the second half, menacing the opposition from the wing and looking for Rodrygo centrally. Came off in the penultimate minute.

Substitutes

Marco Asensio: 8

Did not contribute much to the game after coming on until the 92nd minute when he executed a perfect finish for Real Madrid’s third.

Dani Ceballos: 7

Involved regularly in the buildup in the few minutes that he came on

Antonio Rudiger: 6.5

Came on late and stayed solid defensively. Denied Cabrera from a corner with a good interception.

Alvaro Rodriguez: NA

Came on very late.

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Features

Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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