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Brilliant Benzema Helps Real Get Past Valencia

Real Madrid were playing at the Alfredo Di Stéfano once again, this time hosting a Valencia side who needed points for their European push. Madrid, of course, needed to win to keep step with their age-old foes, Barcelona.

The first major chance fell to Real in the 11th minute, when Benzema played Hazard through on goal, but the Belgian could only draw a save out of Cillessen.

But 2 minutes later, Gomez sent Rodrigo through on the opposite end, but Courtois got a fingertip to his shot and directed it to the post.

8 minutes later, Valencia were celebrating after Soler found Rodrigo 6 yards away from the goal, and the ball was sent into the net. However, VAR thought that the ball took a touch off Gomez, who was offside, before it fell to Rodrigo, and so it was ruled out.

At the half-hour mark, Carvajal burst through the Valencia defence and had a shot from a tight angle. But once again, Cillessen got his foot to it.

Just a minute before half-time, Kondogbia let one fly from range, and Courtois went plunging to his left to keep it out.

Real started getting better in the second half, and they got their reward in the 61st minute when Modrić found Hazard on the edge of the box. The Belgian squared it to Benzema, who guided it home with a first-time finish.

In the 74th minute, Mendy found Asensio with a driven cross, and the 24 year-old scored with his first touch on his comeback after an ACL tear.

And in the 86th minute, Kroos found Asensio down the right wing. The Spaniard found Benzema with a delightful first touch, and the striker smashed it home on the volley.

Things went from bad to worse for Valencia, as Lee was sent off for testing Ramos’ leg strength with multiple kicks. And further, Coquelin went off injured, and the lack of substitutes meant that Valencia had to play with 9 men.

So, it ended 3-0 to the hosts, who have managed to keep within touching range of Barcelona.


Real looked to dominate possession as always, and play their way through Valencia.

Valencia had a very good plan to stop Real. They would try to find Rodrigo’s runs on the counter-attacks, and he would either find Gomez, or go for goal himself. Unfortunately, this did not work thanks to Courtois, the post, and VAR.


Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – Didn’t have too much to do, but he made one or two massive saves to preserve his clean sheet. 7

Dani Carvajal – Looked extremely threatening down the right, as he went forward often. His crosses were great too. Rather contained in the second half though. 7

Raphaël Varane – Good defensively, but he let Gomez slip at times. 6.75

Sergio Ramos – Solid at the back, and he went forward to make things happen at times too. 7.25

Ferland Mendy – Rather quiet in the first period, but he was very alive in the second, as he delivered a lot of threatening crosses, and got an assist for Asensio’s goal. 7.25

Luka Modrić – Failed to do too much in the first period, but he was much better in the second. He was involved in the build-up of the opener, and looked great thereafter. 7

Casemiro – Decent in holding midfield, but he didn’t have a massive impact on the match. 6

Toni Kroos – Kept rather quiet for the first half, but he bossed the midfield in the second. Completed over a hundred passes throughout the match, as he pulled the strings from midfield. 8

Federico Valverde – Kept rather quiet down the right, and he failed to grow into the game. 5.5

Karim Benzema – Great match for him. Though he had little to do in the first half, he bagged a brilliant second half brace, as he looked clinical front of goal. 8.5

Eden Hazard – Kept relatively quiet for most of the match, but he did very well to set up the opener. Looked great thereafter. 7


Marco Asensio – What a comeback! A goal with his first touch and a beautiful assist to celebrate his return to fitness. 8

Team – Real looked good for the first 15 minutes, but then slumped for the rest of the first half. They almost conceded in that period, but a combination of Courtois and VAR kept things level. Then, they came flying out of the blocks in the second half, and Benzema’s clinical finishing coupled with Asensio’s return helped them take the 3 points. They will want more of that second half performance. 7.25


Jasper Cillessen – Made an array of massive saves to keep his side in the game, and he can’t be blamed for conceding. 7.5

Daniel Wass – Failed to do anything down the right, and was overrun by Hazard in the second half. 4.5

Hugo Guillamón – Made a lot of (10) massive clearances and challenges to keep things tight at the back, but once his side conceded, there was nothing he could do. 7

Eliaquim Mangala – Decent at the back, but he made one or two mistakes as he looked shaky on the ball. 6.25

José Luis Gayà – Alright down the left, as he kept Valverde in check. Couldn’t do anything against Asensio, though. 6

Ferran Torres – Saw a decent amount of the ball down the right, but his crossing let him down. 5.5

Dani Parejo – Alright in midfield, but he didn’t see too much of the ball, and therefore couldn’t make use of his immense passing talent. 5.75

Geoffrey Kondogbia – Extremely solid in holding midfield, as he broke down a variety of attacks. 6.5

Carlos Soler – Failed to make too much happen down the left. 5.25

Rodrigo – Tried his best to make things happen in attack. Really unlucky to not have a goal, as he hit the post once, and had a goal disallowed too. 6.25

Maxi Gomez – Worked hard up front, as he linked up well with Rodrigo. 6


Gonçalo Guedes – Failed to anything after coming on. 4.5

Kevin Gameiro – Lost the ball after his first touch, which led to the opener. Did nothing after that. 4

Denis Cheryshev – Had zero impact off the bench. 4.5

Francis Coquelin – Decent in midfield, but he picked up a really unfortunate injury. 5

Lee Kang-in – Did nothing except make a futile attempt to break Ramos’ leg. Got deservedly sent off for that. 2

Team – Valencia looked good in the first half, and they were cruelly denied a goal by VAR. Despite that, they kept their heads up and continued to fight. However, after the break, Madrid started dominating them. After conceding the goals, they looked very frustrated and tired, and ended up with 9 men. Things would have been very different if Rodrigo’s goal stood, but Valencia cannot solely blame that, as they left a lot to be desired in the second half. 6


José María Sánchez Martínez had a mixed game. He got most of his calls, including the red card right, but the disallowed goal was a clear and obvious error, as the ball went off Varane and not Gomez, so offside should not have been a question. The most surprising thing was that he never saw the replay of the ball touching Varane, but had a look at the offside lines. That decision changed the game, and may even change both sides’ fate. 5.75

What This Means:

Real Madrid close the gap to Barcelona back down to 2 points once again. They also have a nice 11 point buffer to Sevilla who are a place below them.

Valencia are 8th now – a point away from Villarreal and Granada who are either side of them.

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