As always the Bernabeu faithful was ready to welcome it’s beloved Real Madrid back into the cauldron in the capital for another big Champions League encounter. It was Spurs’ first visit to the Spanish capital since the 2010/2011 season when they were there in a quarterfinal matchup that saw them get destroyed 4-0 en route to losing the tie. The London side had never won in Madrid on 4 previous occasions, nor had they ever even picked up a point, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side were ready and even somewhat surprisingly went ahead on 28 minutes.
Real controlled much of the opening stages with Ronaldo coming close twice and Benzema also nearly nipping in off a rebound. But Spurs weathered the storm and grew into the game around the 20 minute mark and forced a great save out of Navas on a Harry Kane header before Kane got on the end of a raking ball into the box that he barely hit. The ever so slight deflection threw off the trailing Raphael Varane who ended up putting the ball past Keylor Navas to give the visitors the lead. Spurs continued on the front foot but were quickly pinned back as Madrid went for the equalizer. Karim Benzema and Ronaldo up front looked to pour on the attack but both laced shots over the bar. Finally, it was a Benzema pass that found the streaking Toni Kroos in the box who was brought down for a penalty.
Ronaldo fired home for 12 yards and the teams were knotted at one all headed into intermission. Both teams had chances in the second half but a few very impressive saves from both goalkeepers kept the game deadlocked and it ended 1-1. The teams continue to match each other in results and now co-lead the group with 7 points. A surprising draw for Borussia Dortmund at APOEL Nicosia hurts the Germans’ chances of making it through.
Navas 9- Was absolutely crucial in stopping Kane from notching hat trick with a save over the bar on a Kane header in the first half. In the second half, Kane got free from 18 yards out and hit a low shot that would have crept in if it weren’t for another great save from Navas to push wide. Had to come up trumps not long after to keep Spurs from taking the lead. Commanded the box well and a slow roller out to Kroos that put the German in no mans land may be his only fault on the night. Nothing he could do on the goal.
Hakimi 7- This was my first chance to see the teenage Moroccan international play and he certainly passed any test I would have given him. Scampered forward as much as the marauding Carvajal would and sent a couple good crosses, won a couple free kicks and generally frustrated Vertongen when he could. Popped up for a key intervention in the second half in the defensive third but didn’t have a ton to do defensively though did do well to keep Erikson at bay.
Ramos 6- A solid enough night from the skipper. Put in a decent defensive shift for the most part with some key tackles but Kane skipped by him noticeably on one occasion as did I believe Sissoko on another. A wayward pass or two didn’t help but was about average for him overall.
Varane 4- While he did give Spurs their only goal (and first ever scored against Madrid), it’s hard to fault him as there’s no way he could see the ball as it came to him and it was just very unlucky. Patrolled the back line well enough but was a bit off with his decision making. For instance he got forward once well and then tried to do too much and lost out and other times gave the ball away unnecessarily, a characteristic that has always plagued the young Frenchman. Used his speed well but looked a bit confused to say the least.
Marcelo 4- The Brazilian didn’t necessarily do anything wrong but he could not find a way around Aurier all night. won a couple corners but struck a frustrated figure for the most part. Marshaled Eric Dier fairly well when he got forward but just like Hakimi wasn’t asked to do a ton defensively with Tottenham’s attack coming mostly down the middle. Faded a bit in the second half as well as he realized he wasn’t getting through Aurier. Madrid missed his incisiveness.
Casemiro 5- A calmer night than usual for the Brazilian CDM. As always had a few very nice tackles mixed in with a few poorly timed ones. Did well enough for the most part but at times was overrun by Dier and Winks and didn’t do well with Kane. Covered well for Varane and Ramos when either CB got forward.
Kroos 6- As is the norm, kept things ticking in midfield but didn’t have a huge influence on the match. Struck an exacerbated look when he was caught in no man’s land with Aurier on his back but fortunately won a free kick. Linked up well with Modric in the midfield and spread the ball around nicely but his crosses weren’t quite up to caliber. Did win the penalty for Ronaldo to convert.
Modric 8- Was the man to keep things going in midfield. Much like Isco, he’s indispensable to this team. Did his best to find Ronaldo on multiple occasions with through balls though that’s not to say he wasn’t a bit off with his passing as well with a few long balls not reaching their intended targets. Did send in a picturesque cross that Benzema needed to get a head on.
Isco 8- Darted around the field in his free-flowing role and was the impetus to Madrid’s attack. Lofted a lovely pass for Marcelo in the first half and popped up wherever needed. Put in a few good tackles and had a couple shots on frame both forcing saves from Lloris.
Ronaldo 8- Was a nuisance all night. Should have put Madrid in front early on with a header off the post and later had another chance that went just inches wide of the far post. Forced a wonderful save out of Lloris to keep it at 0-0 and later put home the penalty for Madrid’s lone goal on the night. Showed off his pace in the second half to dart by 3 defenders and get a shot away that stung the hands of the Hotspur net minder. Unfortunately caught the bad side of Vertongen’s disgraceful dive and nabbed a yellow for it.
Benzema 7- A good game for the Frenchman but absolutely should have been on the scoresheet. Had a chance on the rebound from Ronaldo’s post-driven header but put it two feet wide. Later in the second had a golden opportunity from four yards out after a wonderful whipped in cross from Casemiro that unbelievably Lloris kept out with his trailing leg. Had a few crosses shave the tips of his head hairs but things didn’t work out for the big striker and his number was the first one up on the board.
Asencio 5- Came on with about 15 minutes and added time to go. Got on the end of a couple attacks but didn’t have a ton of time to make much of an influence.
Vazquez N/A- a last roll of the dice for Zidane who threw the young Spaniard on with under 5 minutes to go and I don’t believe he got a foot to the ball save maybe one time.
Zidane 6- The team was vamped up for this contest as always in the Champions league but they couldn’t find the opening goal they were looking for. Spurs went in front which deflated the team a bit and they were fortunate to get back into it with a deserved penalty awarded late in the first. Both subs were correct but they came a bit too late for my liking. Each needed to come on maybe 10 minutes sooner.
Madrid sit at 7 points with 2 away games and a home game against Dortmund to go.