Real Madrid 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Hits and Flops | La Liga 2019-20
Given the importance of the fixture, it came as no surprise that both sides started the game with intensity, although the visitors were the brighter of the two in the early exchanges, perhaps still smarting from their shootout loss to Real in the final of the Spanish Super Cup a fortnight ago.
After the initial scare, Los Blancos soon settled into their rhythm and were good value for their win after some smart tactical tweaks by Zinedine Zidane swung the pendulum in their favour.
The win saw Real Madrid consolidate their spot at the summit of the table, while Diego Simone would see more questions asked of him as his side made it five games without a victory in all competitions.
Expectedly, some players rose to the occasion in this gargantuan game while others left a lot to be desired with their performance and here, we shall be highlighting the hits and flops from the 222nd edition of El Derbi Madrileño.
Hit #1 Ferland Mendy
Not many people knew much about Ferland Mendy when Real Madrid paid the sum of £47m to Lyon for his services but after an injury-plagued start to life at the Bernabeu, the 24-year-old is slowly coming good.
Zinedine Zidane has made him a permanent fixture in the starting lineup of late and Mendy rewarded his manager's faith with a very assured display on the left against Atletico Madrid.
He is preferred to Marcelo due to his defensive solidity and he once more proved his mettle, limiting the attacking threat posed by Sime Vrsaljko and Angel Correa, while also combining well with Isco on the left of Real Madrid's attack.
It was his bursting run forward that unlocked a resolute Atletico defence and his excellent center was finished by Karim Benzema to give the home side the breakthrough nine minutes into the second half.
This was unarguably Ferland Mendy's best performance in a Real Madrid jersey and on evidence of his display in the game, it would be very difficult for Marcelo to regain his starting spot.
Flop #1 Alvaro Morata
In the buildup to the game, a lot of emphasis was placed on the fact that this was Alvaro Morata's first return to the Santiago Bernabeu since signing for Atletico Madrid last January
The 27-year-old spent four seasons in the past for Los Blancos before joining Los Rojiblancos but it proved to be a case of much ado about nothing, as Morata was nothing more than a mere spectator in the game.
He has struggled for consistency in front of goal and he failed to show his former side what they are missing in what was a lethargic performance.
Morata failed to register a single shot for the entirety of his time on the field and it came as no surprise when he was hauled off by Diego Simeone for the equally ineffective Thomas Lemar in the 49th minute.
Hit #2 Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema started this season like a house on fire, scoring 12 goals from his first 13 matches to race into an early lead for the La Liga Golden Boot.
However, he soon endured a drought and ended the year on a low, drawing blanks in his next five games.
A goal in the 4-0 rout of Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey in midweek meant that he ended his goalless run and he continued from where he left off by scoring the decisive goal in the clash with Atletico Madrid.
It was a typical poacher's finish, with Karim Benzema positioning himself excellently to take advantage of Mendy's perfect low cross and Zidane would hope he can keep up his fine form to lead Real Madrid to a 34th league title.