Real Madrid secured a 3-1 victory over Barcelona in El Clasico with a dominant performance on Saturday afternoon.
A frenetic start to the contest saw goals arrive at both ends as Ansu Fati’s smart tap-in cancelled out Federico Valverde’s opener.
Chances continued to arrive at both ends but Neto and Thibaut Courtois denied Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi respectively in what was an enthralling opening 45 minutes of action.
The hosts enjoyed a bright start to the second period before Real started to get a foothold in proceedings once more. The visitors then earned a penalty which was tucked away by Sergio Ramos before substitute Luka Modric sealed the deal in the closing stages with a fine individual effort.
Let’s get into some player ratings from Saturday’s Clasico.
Neto (GK) – 6/10 – Made a number of good saves but his error led to Real’s third.
Sergino Dest (RB) – 8/10 – Impressed as he became the first American to appear in a Clasico. Two superb defensive sequences in the opening period encapsulated his confident showing.
Gerard Pique (CB) – 7/10 – Caught out of position for Real’s first but improved from that moment on. Refused to be befuddled by Benzema dropping into midfield during a positionally adept display from the veteran Spaniard.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 7/10 – A shame his shirt-pull was penalised by VAR because it ruined a fine display. Covered Real’s in-behind threat diligently and was typically elegant and progressive in possession. A calming influence.
Jordi Alba (LB) – 7/10 – Barça’s outlet was a constant menace on his return. Well-timed run and cross set-up Fati’s equaliser. Fatigued as the contest wore on but an impressive performance nonetheless.
Sergio Busquets (DM) – 4/10 – Uncharacteristically naive in possession with Real using him as a trigger to press. Failed to track Valverde for the game’s opener. Game passed him by somewhat.
Frenkie de Jong (DM) – 5/10 – Struggled to impose himself against an aggressive Real Madrid midfield.
Pedri (RM) – 5/10 – Craftily took up positions between the lines as he often drifted in from the right but the 17-year-old looked pretty overwhelmed in the Clasico before his substitution.
Philippe Coutinho (AM) – 5/10 – The Brazilian’s enjoyed a bright start to the season on his return to the club but was poor on Saturday. Just way too wasteful in possession.
Ansu Fati (LM) – 7/10 – Early strike meant he became the youngest Clasico scorer in history. Typically intelligent with his movement but was quiet following the goal.
Lionel Messi (CF) – 7/10 – Incredibly bright, especially out of possession where he was often the man to kick-start Koeman’s counter-press. Fluid interchanges with front four meant he functioned more as a number ten and had enjoyed some mesmeric sequences in possession.
Antoine Griezmann – 5/10
Francisco Trincao – 5/10
Ousmane Dembele – 5/10
Martin Braithwaite – N/A
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 6/10 – Produced a fantastic save to deny Messi at the near post in the first half. Was rarely tested in the second.
Nacho Fernandez (RB) – 6/10 – Plenty of hustle prior to his early substitution. Booked for a cynical foul on Coutinho but prevented a dangerous Barça transition with a tremendous intervention.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – 8/10 – Undeniably stabilised the Real defence following their horror-show in the week. Won and scored a penalty to give Real a 2-1 lead. The massive challenge to deny Messi in stoppage time would’ve been satisfying.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 7/10 – The Frenchman’s form has come under the microscope ever since his disasterclass at the Etihad in August but he was assured in the Clasico.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 7/10 – Much has been made of the Frenchman’s attacking capacity since his move to the Spanish capital but his defensive nous was laid bare on Saturday afternoon. Coped with Barcelona’s tame threat down the right with ease.
Casemiro (DM) – 8/10 – The Brazilian often took up higher positions on the pitch which seemed to catch the hosts’ midfield off guard. Sloppy on occasions but typically immense out of possession.
Federico Valverde (CM) – 9/10 – Dynamism and composure saw him open the scoring after four minutes before he embarked on a dominant display. Made recoveries all over the field, won the majority of his duels and proved efficient in possession. Runs from midfield caused the Barça centre-backs serious issues. Superb.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 7/10 – Perhaps the least influential out of Real’s impressive midfield but the German was his typical controlling self in the second phase. Pressed effectively as well.
Marco Asensio (RW) – 6/10 – A quiet afternoon in possession. Also tasked with the difficult job of tracking the marauding Alba; a role he performed admirably following Fati’s goal.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 6/10 – Crafty movement distorted the Barca backline which led to Real’s first as he fed through a surging Valverde. Link-up and first-touch play was superb throughout as he dropped very deep at times to receive possession but wasteful in front of goal.
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 5/10 – Combined nicely at times with Benzema and looked a threat early before Dest started to get the better of the Brazilian. Decision-making and execution poor in the final third.
Lucas Vazquez – 8/10
Luka Modric – 7/10
Rodrygo – 5/10