Real Betis 1-1 Real Madrid: Player Ratings
Real Madrid hoped to continue their fine run of form under new manager Zinedine Zidane on their trip to La Liga strugglers Real Betis. Madrid had scored 25 goals in 5 games since the appointment of the Frenchman, and Betis in sharp contrast had been in a terrible run of form. Real Betis had not won in their last ten games in all competitions, not scored or won in their last six games at home – the worst run in their history.
Nothing in the pre-match build-up suggested anything other than three points for Madrid – three points which they desperately needed to keep pace with Atleti and Barca to resurrect a faltering season.
With Gareth Bale absent due to injury, James Rodriguez started upfront as Isco got a chance to start in midfield. Much to even their own surprise, it was Betis who drew first blood via a sensational volley from Cejudo in the 7th minute. Madrid found themselves chasing the game, and were extremely profligate in front of goal – with James and Ronaldo especially guilty of missing chances to score. However, a late finish by Benzema from some excellent build-up play saw Madrid finally settling for a point, heading back home four points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Adan - 8
Former Real Madrid reserve player Adan put in a fantastic performance in front of goal for Betis. The Spaniard put in excellent save after save, his point blank save from a Benzema flick in the 80th minute surely earning his side the point.
Molinero - 6
The full-back had a decent game where he somehow managed to keep tabs on the superior Marcelo.
Pezzella - 7.5
Young Argentinean defender Pezzella put in a commanding performance against a formidable Madrid attack – clearing numerous crosses and putting in crucial tackles around the box.
Bruno Gonzalez – 7.5
Real Betis’s young centre-back pairing raised their game and did not crumble under the pressure of Madrid’s repeated attacks on goal, and Gonzalez was an able partner for Pezzella as both of them guarded Adan’s goal time and again.
J. Varga – 6.5
The fullback put in an excellent performance containing James and Danilo on the right wing, but couldn’t do much as James provided the equalizer for Benzema.
N’Diaye – 6
Former Sunderland man Alfred N’Diayewas guilty of being wasteful in possession far too many times in the game.
Fabian Ruiz – 7
The 42-year-old Mexican valiantly took the attack to the opposition and had a hand in creating the opener for Cejudo. Sadly, his game was curtailed as he had to be subbed off for an injury sustained in the 50th minute.
Kadir – 6
Veteran Algerian and former Marseille man put in a hardworking performance against Madrid.
Cejudo – 7
He didn’t do much after his fantastic volley for the opening goal, but that was enough to earn a point for his team and break their goal-scoring drought at home.
Ruben Castro – 7
Well travelled Spaniard Castro made sure the Madrid defenders were involved in the game with his darting runs, and nearly earned his side all three points with a spectacular effort that just went wide.
Joaquin – 5
The Betis number 7, who returned to the side after a stint at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, provided an injection of pace but otherwise did not have a notable impact.
Dani Ceballos – 5
Slotted into the space behind the striker in the centre of midfield.
Portillo – N.A.
A late substitution to replace the goal-scorer, Cejudo.
Navas – 7
Put in a solid if unspectacular performance, and was not at fault for Betis’ superb opener.
Marcelo – 7
The experienced left-back had a good game and was constantly a thorn in his opposite number Molinero’s side.
Varane – 7
The young Frenchman put in a strong performance after a circumspect start in the absence of captain Sergio Ramos.
Pepe – 7
Mopped up for Varane in the opening exchanges as Madrid came under pressure after going behind in the boisterous crowd of Benito Villamarin.
Danilo – 4.5
Was a shocking selection by Zidane in place for the fantastic Dani Carvajal who has been a catalyst for Madrid in the last few games. The Brazillian put in a terrible shift, and was replaced by Carvajal anyway.
Isco – 7.5
Back in Madrid’s scheme of things after being close to an exit under Rafa Benitez, Isco put in a fantastic performance in the middle of the pitch but Madrid’s finishing was below par.
Modric - 7.5
It was a sublime performance as usual from the Croatian magician, and he had a hand in Madrid’s equalizer.
Kroos - 6.5
Toni Kroos needs to make a stronger case for himself in a midfield trio consisting only of playmakers and no ball-winners. Perhaps Zidane might take a leaf out of Benitez’s book and start Casemiro as a defensive midfielder.
James Rodriguez – 7
Much like Madrid’s frontline, put in a mediocre performance but one moment of quality ensured Madrid walked away with a point.
Benzema – 7.5
Apart from a few notable misses, the Madrid forward put in a hardworking performance for his new manager and reaped the dividend with a goal in the second half.
Ronaldo – 6.5
Madrid’s talisman has been having a poor run of form by his standards, and at the age of 30, has to do a lot more to keep the rumour mills quiet about an impending exit, despite netting over 50 goals in the last calendar year.
Dani Carvajal: - 7
A man who should have started the game instead of coming off from the bench, Carvajal noticeably added more attacking impetus down the right than his predecessor.
Jese – N.A.
Replaced James with just 10 minutes to go as Madrid searched for the go-ahead goal.