Real Madrid’s third match of the season was yet another away fixture. Carlo Ancelotti’s men traveled to Barcelona to face RCD Espanyol. The Italian made two changes to his line-up, both at the full back position. Lucas Vazquez and Toni Rudiger formed as part of the starting XI, with David Alaba shifting to the left back spot. Against deeper blocks, that fullback pairing may make more sense than the Carvajal-Mendy tandem.
Espanyol fought hard, but Real Madrid were able to edge the victory with goals from the dynamic duo: Benzema and Vinicius. Carlo Ancelotti changed the game with his substitutions with both Camavinga and Rodrygo Goes becoming protagonists.
Full match player ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—7.5: Utilized his field-length throwing distribution to release Fede on a quick transition. Made a good stop on Joselu’s initial shot, but had no chance on the follow-up. Made an incredible instinctive save on Joselu’s effort in the 58th minute off a corner kick.
Lucas Vazquez—6: Ran tirelessly up and down the flank. Played very high and wide to be an offensive outlet for teammates.
Antonio Rudiger—7: Locked in from the first whistle. Brings an incredible intensity to the game. Fun battle with Joselu all evening. Plays “pessimsitic” as Carlo had previously described Nacho — always makes sure to cover any potential through the ball even when the opposition doesn’t make a run.
Militao—6.5: Maybe could have stepped up on the Joselu goal and tried to play the Spanish striker offside, but it would be a difficult ask. Could he have done more to prevent a shot? On the ball, there were a number of long diagonal passes that helped Madrid attack.
David Alaba—8: Provided a completely different dimension at the left back position. Rather than being a left back, Alaba occupied spaces that served the team, more often in advanced central spots.
Tchouameni-8: Confident and composed from the first minute. Looks more and more comfortable with this Real Madrid team. Produced a lovely assist for the opening goal of the game, feeding Vinicius Junior inside the box.
Luka Modric—6: Dropped deep, almost like a right back, to pick up the ball and help the team build out from the back. Gained more influence in the 2nd half, but was yanked by the 55th minute and did not look happy to be replaced.
Toni Kroos—6.5: Half-volley late in the 2nd half that looked destined for the bottom corner, but was touched by Benzema and ultimately disallowed for an offside call.
Fede Valverde—6.5: Involved in the opening goal, by providing an outlet to Tchouameni and playing a quick one-two pass. Hounded the opposition high up the pitch and recovered possession to release Vinicius in transition. Defended like a mad-man.
Vinicius Junior—8.5: Like so many other fullbacks in La Liga, Oscar Gil will have nightmares of Vinicius Junior tonight. The Brazilian was electric and scored the first goal of the game with a composed first touch finish.
Karim Benzema—7: Looked a frustrated figure for most of the night. Was forcing moves and it looked like it may not click for the Frenchman. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Benzema scored the crucial game-winner in the 87th minute by latching on to a perfect Rodrygo cross. Nearly scored again a few minutes later off a bullet header to truly sentence the match. In the 100th minute, scored a direct free kick against Leandro Cabrera who ended up in the net.
Eduardo Camavinga—8.5: Replaced Luka Modric in the middle of the midfield. Fantastic cameo from the teenager. Broke free on a long run through midfield after combining with Rodrygo but played his final pass slightly behind Benzema. Shortly after, there was another box to box run ending in a disallowed Benzema goal. Showed off his technical quality by dancing by Cabrera near the corner flag.
Rodrygo Goes—8: Made some superb off ball runs, but didn’t always receive the pass. Combined well with both Vinicius and Benzema. In the final minutes of the match, Rodrygo appeared once again. Curled an inch-perfect cross to Karim Benzema to score the game-winning goal in the 87th minute.
Dani Ceballos—7: Was available at the back post for a clear opportunity late in the game, but Benzema failed to find the pass. Provided the energy that Kroos was lacking late in the game. In the final minutes of the match, found his way into the box and picked up a loose Lecomte clearance. Rodyrgo scored but the goal was disallowed.
Dani Carvajal—N/A: A late substitution for Lucas Vazquez who was exhausted by the end of the game given the open and chaotic nature of the 2nd half.