Real Madrid dropped three points away to Villarreal on Saturday night to give Barcelona leeway in the title race. The curse of La Ceramica continued as the men in white have now not won in their last six appearances in the ground.
The visitors never settled into the game and were persistently frustrated and uncomfortable by Quique Setien’s tactics. The Yellow Submarines presses relentlessly on the night, forcing Los Blancos into repeated errors.
There is no question as to which team was superior at Estadio de La Ceramica, for Villarreal dished out a performance for the ages. In all honesty, a 2-1 defeat will come as music to Carlo Ancelotti’s ears.
Yeremy Pino opened the scoring for the hosts early in the second period before Karim Benzema equalised from the penalty spot 13 minutes later.
Setien’s men did not have to wait long to regain their lead, as Gerard Moreno scored from the spot just a minute later.
Madrid Universal brings you the ratings of Real Madrid players from the devastating display on Saturday night.
Thibaut Courtois: 6
The Belgian International was continuously under pressure in the opening half and had to be constantly alert, with Villarreal dominating the play and creating waves of chances. His big moment in the opening half came in the 23rd minute when he threw himself at the ball to save Gerard Moreno’s strike.
Courtois was not to blame for Villarreal’s opener, for he was unpleasantly exposed by his defence. Made one more critical save from inside the box in the second period.
Eder Militao: 7
Militao was deployed as a right-back by Carlo Ancelotti on the night. Despite being played out of position, he was arguably the team’s best player in the first half. Not only did he stay solid in defence but also made valuable runs into the opponents’ final third to threaten on goal.
Antonio Rudiger: 7
Rudiger put up a brave display under pressure and kept his cool even in one vs one situations. He made three clearances, two interceptions, one tackle and won four duels on the night.
In the 74th minute, he single-handedly walled off Samuel Chuckwueze from goal in a pressure cooker situation to ensure the score stayed 2-1.
David Alaba: 5.5
The Austrian International suffered in the opening period and was often caught wrong-footed and out of position. Alaba was uncomfortable against the Yellow Submarines’ high press and struggled to play out from the back.
Seconds after Karim Benzema’s equaliser, the former Bayern Munich man conceded a penalty that gifted back Villarreal the lead. It was unfortunate, however, as the ball struck his hand while he was falling to the ground and attempting to support himself.
Ferland Mendy: 4
Mendy once again exemplified why Real Madrid’s concerns at left-back are warranted as he recorded just four recoveries and two duels won during his time on the field.
His lowest point on the night came immediately after the restart when he gave the ball away poorly to Gerard Moreno. His misplaced pass triggered the opposition’s counter-attack which resulted in the opening goal. Mendy was eventually replaced by Rodrygo in the 64th minute.
Toni Kroos: 8
Even on the team’s worst night, Kroos dished out a special performance. The German completed close to 96% of his passes and provided one key pass against Villarreal.
Further, he made seven accurate long balls from as many attempts and was at the heart of every Real Madrid attack throughout the game.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 3
Suffered and toiled through his hour on the field, Tchouameni was completely outclassed and outperformed by Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin at La Ceramica. As the pivot, he failed to retain possession and played timid against Villarreal’s high press.
Luka Modric: 3
Completed just 78% of his passes on the night, made no key passes and lacked his usual creative edge. Completed three out of five attempted long balls but did not have much more to contribute. A rare off night for the Croat.
Federico Valverde: 6
The Uruguayan did not do much wrong but lost the possession rather easily on a few occasions. Meanwhile, he also completed 91% of his passes, provided one key pass, created a big chance and made four vital clearances.
Karim Benzema: 8
Benzema was one of the few Real Madrid players on song at La Ceramica, providing two key passes and creating two big chances. He also recorded two shots on the night, one of which was on target.
The Frenchman failed to put the ball into an open goal in the 55th minute but was lucky that an unfortunate error from Juan Foyth gifted him a penalty immediately after. The Ballon d’Or winner made no mistake, burying the ball past Pepe Reina.
Vinicius Jr: 5
The Brazilian International was constantly frustrated by Foyth on the night, who denied him any comfort on the left wing. He missed a big chance in the first half but also recorded two key passes.
He lost possession a whopping 16 times on the night, and it is safe to say that Vinicius was far from his dangerous self.
Lucas Vazquez: 4
The Spaniard came on at the hour mark and took over from Eder Militao at right-back, allowing his teammate to move back to a central position. Did not err, but did nothing flamboyant.
Rodrygo Goes: 5.5
Called upon by the manager when the team desperately needed a goal, the Brazilian came as a whiff of fresh air and posed a constant threat on goal. In less than 25 minutes, he took two shots, missed one big chance and made one key pass.
Eduardo Camavinga: 4
Helped improve the tempo of Real Madrid’s game and did not suffer as much under Villarreal’s relentless pressure.
Marco Asensio: NA
Came on too late to warrant a rating.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.