Real Madrid eased past city rivals Atletico Madrid in a 2-0 victory on Sunday night that extended their winning run to ten games across all competitions.
Diego Simeone’s visitors flew out of the traps, unsettling their illustrious hosts with an aggressive press high up the pitch that left Real Madrid’s orchestrator-in-chief, Toni Kroos, particularly flustered.
Yet, this ultra-clinical iteration of Los Blancos punished Atletico for failing to turn their bright start into chances, breaking the deadlock very much against the run of play. Luka Modric’s interception on halfway sparked a blistering breakaway a quarter of an hour into the game. Karim Benzema helped the ball on its blur forward, darting into the area to crisply execute a picture-perfect volley zipping beyond Jan Oblak.
Madrid seemed to collectively grow a couple of inches after their opener. Emboldened by an early (and a little undeserved) lead, the hosts played between Atletico’s press with increasing success and swagger.
A pair of substitutions from Simeone during the interval swung the start of the second half back in Atletico’s favour. Yet, in an eerie repeat of the opening period, Real Madrid sliced through the visitors to double their lead hot on the heels of Atletico’s bright play in the 57th minute.
Vinicius Junior laid on his second assist of the evening, sweeping a pass from left to right to tee up Marco Asensio, hovering in a pocket of space with Atleti’s dizzied backline scattered, for a slick finish.
A jubilant Santiago Bernabeu crowd brushed off the oles barely after the hour mark as Madrid sucked the venom out of Atletico’s sting with controlled possession. Thibaut Courtois was forced into a flurry of stops either of Asensio’s goal, but Madrid kept their city rivals at arm’s length to move eight points clear at La Liga’s summit.
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Kept on his toes by an Antoine Griezmann free kick bound for the top corner in the first half, Madrid’s number one was particularly sharp when facing balls into the box.
Dani Carvajal (RB) – 7/10 – Caused more of a problem after the introduction of Joao Felix but not overly troubled throughout.
Eder Militao (CB) – 8/10 – Light on his feet, the imposing centre back was just as commanding when drawn out wide.
David Alaba (CB) – 7/10 – Cruised through his first Madrid derby.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 6/10 – A little sloppy in possession but neutralised the flickering threat Atletico offered down their right.
Luka Modric (CM) – 8/10 – Deservedly received an impromptu standing ovation from a famously stingy Bernabeu crowd.
Casemiro (CM) – 8/10 – Revelled in the physical battle a game against Atletico entails, content to carry out the grubby business behind his midfield conductors.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 7/10 – Clearly singled out of the focal point of Atletico’s press early in the game, the German swiftly restored the one or two hairs out of place on his well-gelled head as he – and so, Madrid – grew into the game.
Marco Asensio (RW) – 7/10 – Took his goal well after some early indecision prevented an earlier strike.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 7/10 – Back from injury, Madrid’s forward was everywhere his side needed him to be both in the early stages of their build up play and at the sharp end of the move before his premature departure at half-time.
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 8/10 – Long gone are the days of Benzema imploring teammates to overlook the Brazilian, Vinicius showed his newfound composure with a pair of assists.
Luka Jovic (ST) – 6/10 – Played a role in Madrid’s second goal but, understandably, struggled to replicate Benzema’s entire contribution.
Nacho Fernandez (RB) – N/A
Federico Valverde (CM) – N/A
Rodrygo (LW) – N/A
Jan Oblak (GK) – 6/10 – Left utterly helpless for Benzema’s first but flung out a crucial glove to deny Vinicius from an acute angle.
Marcos Llorente (RB) – 5/10 – On his return to the club his family have long been intertwined with, Paco Gento’s great-nephew carried out his exhaustive offensive and defensive responsibilities with equal enthusiasm.
Felipe (CB) – 3/10 – Repeatedly lost at sea when Madrid upped the tempo.
Geoffrey Kondogbia (CB) – 4/10 – Failed to upset Madrid’s game from defence or influence Atletico’s when pushed into midfield.
Mario Hermoso (LB) – 4/10 – Offering nowhere near the same attacking thrust as his opposite fullback before shunted centrally.
Angel Correa (RM) – 6/10 – Snapping at the heels of those in white quite literally from the first whistle (his first foul on Kroos clocked in under ten seconds).
Rodrigo De Paul (CM) – 5/10 – At the epicentre of every niggling interchange in the congested central slice of the pitch, De Paul offered more presence than purpose.
Koke (CM) – 3/10 – Compounded his cheap turnover in the build up to Madrid’s opener by failing to pose any kind of obstacle when he scurried back into the box. Not the first, nor surely the last to be outplayed by Madrid’s imperious trio.
Yannick Carrasco (LM) – 3/10 – Skirted around the fringes of the contest before understandably chosen as half of Simeone’s double-change at the interval.
Matheus Cunha (ST) – 5/10 – Worked diligently off the ball but had his rare sight of goal stopped by the razor sharp Courtois.
Antoine Griezmann (ST) – 4/10 – Repeatedly bested by Militao before, perhaps a tad harshly, he was hooked at half-time.
Joao Felix (ST) – 5/10 – Attacked the challenge of impacting the derby straight from his introduction, but faded dramatically thereafter.
Thomas Lemar (LM) – 4/10 – Struggled to exert the kind of turnaround his half-time arrival needed.
Luis Suarez (ST) – 4/10 – Despite barely afforded a sniff of the ball, still managed to get Alaba booked (and himself).
Renan Lodi (LB) – N/A
Hector Herrera (CM) – N/A