After a disappointing outing in the Copa del Rey, Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid needed a fitting response in the league fixture against fifth-placed Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. The Madrid players came up with just that as they outclassed their opponents with a clinical 3-0 victory.
It was not an easy start for Madrid as Sociedad brilliantly closed them down and pressed well to make life difficult for Los Blancos. However, once the deadlock was broken by Mateo Kovacic seven minutes before half-time, Madrid grew into the game and showed why they are the league leaders. The win took them four points clear of nearest rivals, Barcelona, with a game in hand.
Here is how the players fared:
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
Keylor Navas: 7/10
Navas had very few saves to make in the match as Sociedad did not threaten his goal a lot. He kept things simple and was happy to punch out crosses that came his way.
Danilo da Silva: 6.5/10
Danilo, who might have been considered Madrid's weak link, kept himself away from committing the blunders that he is famous for and played well at right-back.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Varane's return to the Madrid lineup was a boost as he kept things tight at the back and made important tackles and won aerial duels. He also passed the ball to his midfielders and forwards confidently.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Ramos was also vital for Madrid, along with Varane, in keeping a clean sheet as he helped closed the attacking channels that Sociedad relied on, especially on the wings.
Nacho Fernandez: 7/10
Nacho had a good game as he did not allow any free passage to the Sociedad attacker through his flank. He could have had a goal in the second half had his first touch been better.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Kroos might not have had the most comfortable game with the Sociedad players relentlessly pressing. But, he was able to dictate things better in the second half and initiate attacks from the deeper areas.
Casemiro played in his natural position as a defensive midfielder and he had an excellent game as he tracked back and made a number of tackles (11) to help stop any potential attacking moves by the away side.
Mateo Kovacic: 9.5/10
Kovacic was the best Madrid player tonight as he was all over the pitch for his side. He defended well for his team with interceptions and tackles, but most importantly he scored the first goal with a clever finish and set up Cristiano Ronaldo for the second goal.
Lucas Vazquez: 8/10
Vazquez worked hard throughout the game and supported his team well in attack as well as in defence. He provided the assist for Madrid's third goal in what was an impressive display on the night.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
Benzema did not have a particularly good game as he failed to take a single shot on goal. The Frenchman was hauled off in the 66th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9/10
Ronaldo had a scrappy start to the game and took time to get settled in. However, once he provided the brilliant ball through for Kovacic to score the first goal he started to grow in the game and scored with a delightful chip in the 51st minute.
Alvara Morata: 7/10
Morata played only for 25 minutes but probably made more impact than Benzema, who he came on for. The Spaniard scored a brilliant headed goal in the 82nd minute to put the icing on the cake for Madrid.
Isco came on for the last 13 or so minutes for a brilliant Kovacic. He had very little time to make any significant impact.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Asensio played only around 7 minutes in the game but showed his skill and ability as he set up Ronaldo, who was just offside.
Real Sociedad (4-3-3)
Geronimo Rulli: 5/10
Rulli made only one save, which came after the 70th minute when the match was well and truly decided. Although he could not have saved the first and third goals, he probably should have done slightly better to make it more difficult for Ronaldo to score.
Joseba Zaldua: 5/10
Zaldua did well in the early parts of the game but could not keep up the intensity for much of the second half.
Raul Navas: 6/10
Navas was the best of the Sociedad defenders as he made some crucial last-ditch tackles to bail out his team. His positioning for the first Madrid goal could have been better, though.
Inigo Martinez: 4/10
Martinez was solid for a lot of the first half other than for the first goal Sociedad conceded. However, in the second half, he went in with a reckless challenge on Casemiro and was sent off for a second yellow-card offence.
Kevin Rodrigues: 6/10
The left-back saw a lot of the ball as Sociedad tried to attack through their left flank, attempting to trouble Danilo. Some of Rodrigues’ decision making should have been better in the final third.
David Zurutuza: 6/10
Although he had a good pass success rate, Zurutuza was unable to handle Real Madrid’s intense pressing and this led to him losing possession a few times.
Asier Illarramendi: 6.5/10
Illarramendi was always assured in possession and was ever-present to receive passes from his teammates. Going forward, however, he was not able to offer a lot.
Sergio Canales: 6.5/10
Canales was fairly good in possession and passed the ball around well, although he should probably have done better in the final third. He was substituted in the 77th minute.
Juanmi Jimenez: 6/10
Juanmi was the one Sociedad player who got into promising positions to score. His brilliant interplay with Canales should have ended up in the back of the net but he missed by a small margin. Had he scored that just before the stroke of half-time, it would have changed the whole complexion of the game.
Willian Jose: 6/10
Willian Jose had to drop quite deep to receive the ball from his teammates as he was isolated up top for long periods. He could have done better with his runs as he rarely attacked the six-yard box.
Mikel Oyarzabal: 7/10
Oyarzabal was one of the best players for Sociedad with his pace and skills getting the better of the Madrid defenders on a few occasions. However, he could not find a precise pass in the final third and was taken off just before the hour mark.
Carlo Vela: 5/10
Vela was introduced only for the last half hour. He was good in retaining possession of the ball but was closed down well by the Madrid defence for the most part.
Xabi Prieto: 6/10
Prieto should probably have started the game as he showed vision and the ability to unlock the Madrid defence.
Esteban Granero: NA
Granero only played the last 10 or so minutes and had very little time to make any impact.Published 30 Jan 2017, 10:02 IST