Real Madrid maintained their four-point lead over Barcelona after securing a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Deportivo Alaves on Friday night. The victory marks Los Blancos' eighth consecutive victory since the resumption of La Liga.
With captain Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal suspended for the game and Marcelo ruled out for the rest of the campaign, Zinedine Zidane made four changes to the squad from their win over Athletic Club in the previous fixture.
Both clubs had a positive start to the game, with players displaying good rhythm and tempo going forward. The visitors almost grabbed the lead in the third minute after former Real Madrid striker Joselu saw his header rattling the crossbar. A penalty in the 11th minute of the game, however, turned the tide in favour of the league leaders.
In the absence of regular penalty-taker Ramos, Karim Benzema stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistakes in dispatching the ball into the back of the net. In the 51st minute, the Frenchman became the provider for the second goal as he selflessly squared the ball to Marco Asensio who scored after VAR confirmed Benzema was on-side in the build-up.
Without further ado, here are the player ratings for Real Madrid as they edge closer to their 34th La Liga title.
Real Madrid Player Ratings
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
It was another routine display from Thibaut Courtois between the sticks. The Real Madrid goalkeeper was on high alert after El Glorioso gave him a scare in the third minute with Joselu's header hitting the bar from a brilliant cross.
The Belgian was called into action in the 25th minute and made a great save from Oliver Burke's driven effort. Overall, Courtois had four saves and came out of the game with yet another clean sheet.
Lucas Vázquez: 6/10
Winger Lucas Vázquez was played out of position by Zinedine Zidane as he was deployed at right-back to fill in for the suspended Carvajal. He looked more comfortable in the Alaves half than his own and was to blame for the early cross that led to Joselu hitting the crossbar in just the third minute of the game.
Raphael Varane: 6.5/10
Raphael Varane made a speedy recovery from injury to mark his return to the squad after missing Real Madrid's fixture against Atheltic Club. In the absence of Ramos, the Frenchman did well to command the back four but did not play at his best level in the game. He committed a couple of unnecessary fouls in the game and also lost a few aerial battles against Joselu.
Eder Militao: 7/10
Eder Militao built on his display against Atheltic and delivered yet another solid performance at the centre of the Real Madrid defence. He covered well for Lucas Vasquez, especially in the first half, when his lack of defensive attributes left the right flank exposed for Alaves attackers to exploit.
The Brazilian defender used his pace to keep Lucas Perez and Joselu in check. He also made a stunning last-man interception to knick the ball off Perez in front of the goal.
Ferland Mendy: 8/10
Ferland Mendy, who made the starting XI partly due to Marcelo's injury, wreaked havoc on the left flank with his unbelievable pace and pin-point crossing. Chances were created for Real Madrid whenever he was in possession. He also earned the penalty after a burst of pace saw him edge past Navarro, who stuck out a leg in a desperate attempt to stop the Frenchman.
In addition, Mendy dominated defensively and managed to cover ground and trackback effectively despite making deep inroads into the Alaves half.
Alaves attackers mostly targeted Vasquez in the Real Madrid defence and rarely progressed through the middle. This is why Casemiro, who is usually in the thick of the proceedings, had nothing much to do in the fixture.
He managed to win back the ball on a few occasions but the tackles were missing. He did not contribute much in the attacking front and even got dispossessed once in the second half.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Toni Kroos did what he does best for Real Madrid in Friday night's fixture and kept the ball moving with purpose. Most of his passes were directed forward and they often found their way to Benzema, Rodrygo and Asensio almost on all occasions
He maintained a 96% passing accuracy in the game and had a few cracks at goal though his efforts were a bit too ambitious, with none of them on target.
Luka Modric: 7/10
Watching Luka Modric pull the strings in the midfield is always a joy and the game against Alaves was nothing different. He linked up well with the full-backs, laying out elegant passes to the forwards and getting into some dangerous positions himself. He also put in a fair amount of work defensively, with his heat map showing that he covered for Vasquez at the right-back position.
Rodrygo had a great game for Real Madrid on Friday night and was full of energy in the final third. He often swapped wings with Asensio in the game and proved effective on both flanks.
The Brazilian caused all sorts of problem for Alaves defenders with his pace and quick feet while his sleek passing also caught them off guard at times. The only thing missing was a goal or an assist to mark his incredible performance.
Marco Asensio: 7/10
Marco Asensio, like Rodrygo, added a lot of energy in the final third. Though he struggled in the initial stages of the game, he found his rhythm as the game progressed. He maintained a good understanding with Benzema throughout the game and that connection ultimately resulted in him scoring Real Madrid's second goal.
Karim Benzema: 9/10
Karim Benzema continues to impress for Real Madrid and delivered yet another man-of-the-match display against Alaves as he scored the first goal and laid the assist for the second. Apart from that, his movement off the ball was very elegant as he opened up spaces in the tight Alaves defence, not only for himself but also for his attacking partners.
The Frenchman had more key passes than anyone on the pitch and created a series of chances for his partners. He scored his 18th goal of the season and will surely be targeting the 20-goal barrier before the campaign ends.
Fede Valverde: 5.5/10
Fede Valverde was brought on in the 70th minute in place of Luka Modric and did a decent job of emulating the Croatian's distribution. He kept the ball moving in the final moments of the game, thus starving Alaves players of possession.
Vinicius Jr: 5/10
Vinicius Jr added his energy to the front three but was wasteful with the handful of chances Real Madrid created in the last quarter of the game. He displayed his amazing pace and skills but failed to add any real threat upfront.