Real Madrid hosted Sporting Gijon in a match that was a must-win and and expected three points. It was their last La Liga match before playing against Barcelona and a win would keep them ahead of the Catalans by a safe distance.
With people returning from injury while others have added their names to the injury list, Zinedine Zidane had to make a few changes to the team. The starting lineup consisted of:
Keylor Navas, Danilo, Sergio Ramos [C], Pepe, Nacho, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema
Real Madrid –
Cristiano Ronaldo (5′)
Cristiano Ronaldo (18′)
Sporting Gijon –
Carlos Carmona (35′)
Starting ahead of Daniel Carvajal, Danilo walks onto the pitch with a lot of pressure even before the whistle blows. Even though the Brazilian left-back has improved quite a bit since his first season with the squad, he is still simply not good enough. Putting aside the horrible mistake he made in the first minute, Danilo never seemed too sure of what he’s doing whenever he has the ball and it’s difficult to see him ever breaking into the first team at Real Madrid.
His first starting appearance since returning from injury and it will surely be a match that the French striker will want to forget as soon as possible. Whenever he had the ball, he slowed the game down and his decision-making on the night was surprisingly dreadful. He lasted the full 90 minutes on the pitch but that was probably because he needed as many minutes as possible under his belt.
A marvelous first half from Cristiano Ronaldo shadowed the second half for him. Two well-taken goals in the first 20 minutes of the match practically sealed the win for Los Merengues and it looked to be enough to give them the three points at the end. Even though his second half wasn’t necessarily “bad”, he wasn’t able to do much since the ball didn’t reach him as often as it should have.
Another great night for Mateo Kovacic as he ran havoc on the pitch almost every single time he had the ball. The Croatian midfielder continues to prove himself and makes the process of picking the starting lineup very difficult for Zinedine Zidane. It seems as though his spot is safe for El Clasico and he will have to prove himself once again on the big stage when the night arrives.
The man who has been talked about the most from the second the starting lineup was released is James Rodriguez. Zidane decided to give him a chance in the team and, even though he didn’t do too badly, it wasn’t a good game overall. Having said that, it’s difficult to really blame the Colombian since he has spent most of the season on the bench and this was his first starting appearance since the end of September. He will need more time and that’s something we should all give him as well before criticizing him for any performance.
My Personal Player Ratings:
Keylor Navas – 8/10
Danilo – 6/10
Sergio Ramos – 8.5/10
Pepe – 8/10
Nacho = 7/10
Mateo Kovacic – 9/10
Luka Modric – 6.5/10
Lucas Vazquez – 8/10
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.5/10
Karim Benzema – 5/10