Football Features

“The Benjamin Button of the Bernabeu” – Player ratings as Real Madrid brush Atlético Madrid aside to go clear atop La Liga

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:22, 12 December 2021

In a one-sided night of football, Real Madrid rode out the storm to beat Atlético Madrid 2-0 in La Liga.

The win puts Los Blancos a massive 13 points ahead of their rivals at the top of the table (albeit Atleti have a game in-hand). It’s only December but Carlo Ancelotti’s men appear to already have one hand on the title.

Here’s how the players rated at the Santiago Bernabeu:

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 9 – Repeatedly made saves big and small to prevent Atleti from taking the lead, equalising and then finally getting back into it. Sealed the clean sheet almost entirely by himself. Real Madrid’s counter-attacking display simply falls to pieces without Courtois’s magnificence. Without a doubt the best goalkeeper in the world.

Dani Carvajal – 7 – Nowhere near his peak but worked hard and defended solidly.

Eder Militao – 7 – The few times Atleti sent dangerous balls in the box it was Militao who stepped in and sent them back. A really solid display from a centre-back in imperious form.

David Alaba – 7 – A comfortable day at the office for Alaba, who wasn’t really tested by Atleti’s anaemic attack.

Ferland Mendy – 7 – Got a bit tasty with some of his tackles but another solid display at the back.

Casemiro – 7 – Showed up when he had to and put in a key tackle.

Luka Modric – 8 – Struggled at first but once Benzema had given Madrid the lead (and it was Modric himself who pinched the ball back at the start of that move) he was absolutely magnificent. Seems to be ageing backwards, such is his capacity to control matches even at 36-years-old. The Benjamin Button of the Bernabeu.

Toni Kroos – 7 – An able and willing accomplice to Luka Modric’s magnificence as always. When Madrid needed to control the game through position, it was Kroos who constantly made himself available as he always does. More touches, (111) and passes (90/96) than anyone else on the pitch.

Marco Asensio – 7 – When he was required to, he stepped up and slotted home Real Madrid’s second goal to give them complete control.

Vinicius Junior – 8 – A really mature display from young Vini as he picked his moments judiciously to mark the game. Couldn’t get the better of Marcos Llorente so switched flanks and created the opening goal for Benzema. Then in the second-half, when Atleti were again on top, Vini again cut through the heart of the side and put it on a plat for Asensio to double Madrid’s lead.

Karim Benzema – 7 – Not fully fit but still set Real Madrid on their way to victory with a truly special volleyed finish from Vini’s cross. Atleti made the big mistake of leaving him unmarked and he punished them in style.


Luka Jovic (for Benzema 46′) – 6 – Came on for Benzema, did alright. Played a small role in Madrid’s second goal.

Nacho (for Carvajal 81′) – 6 – Defended well.

Fede Valverde (for Asensio 85′) – n/a – Came on late.

Rodrygo (for Vini Jr. 86′) – n/a – Came on late.

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Atlético Madrid

Jan Oblak – 5 – A long way from his best. Madrid hit the target three times and two of them went in.

Marcos Llorente – 7 – Perhaps the only Atleti player to not debase himself as he routinely shut Vinicius Jr. down.

Felipe – 5 – Wasn’t bad, per se, but completely floundered whenever Real Madrid attacked him with anything besides crosses and you got the impression that if Los Blancos had targetted him on the deck then they could have scored any number of times.

Geoffrey Kondogbia – 7 – An impressive display marred by his poor defending for both Madrid goals where he showed that for all his application, skill and intensity he is very much not a centre-back.

Mario Hermoso – 4 – Not much of a factor at either end of the field and crucially he was out of position on the killer second goal, allowing Asensio a free shot at goal and then stepping over the ball rather than blocking it.

Koke – 4 – A middling display with none of the intensity you’d expect from an Atleti captain (Gabi would be embarrassed). Moreover he gave the ball away shockingly, leading to Madrid’s opening goal.

Rodrigo de Paul – 5 – Got stuck in and put himself about, but honestly couldn’t impact the flow of the game.

Angel Correa – 4 – Was he even on the pitch?

Yannick Carrasco – 4 – Looked like he was capable of making the difference but constantly overdid it with the dribbling rather than playing quickly and hurting Los Blancos.

Antoine Griezmann – 4 – Was kind of all over the place. Definitely tried to make things happen but was out of sorts.

Matheus Cunha – 6 – Worked really hard and always looked on the verge of breaking through. But his touches were just a bit too loose.


Joao Felix (for Carrasco 46′) – 7 – Atleti’s best player by miles. Instantly took control of the game when he came on but just couldn’t break Madrid down by himself. Really impressive.

Thomas Lemar (for Griezmann 46′) – 6 – Helped add so much thrust to Atleti’s play but really let his side down with his final ball.

Luis Suárez (for Angel Correa 60′) – 4 – Awful. Did nothing but argue with opponents and the referee.

Renan Lodi (for De Paul 69′) – 5 – Helped solidify things.


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