The veteran midfielder put in the kind of display that should have deserved a standing ovation from a packed stadium. His understanding with Kroos is telepathic and the pair controlled the match in the first half. Where many of his teammates were substituted, he stayed on.
Real Madrid’s No.9 lit up the Clasico from the start, opening the scoring with an exquisite backheel that caught Marc-Andre ter Stegen out at his near post. As ever, his contributions to Real Madrid’s attacking play came in ways other than applying the finishing touch. He was substituted with 20 minutes to go.
The former Porto defender really is coming into his own. He was able to stifle the threat of Dembele’s pace in behind the defence and won lots of aerial duels too. This may have been his best performance since joining Real Madrid.
Having to deal with contesting such a crunch match in LaLiga Santander between two legs of a Champions League quarter-final, Zidane only made one change to his starting line-up, bringing Valverde in for Asensio. Lucas Vazquez’s injury provided another problem to cope with, while his team tired in the second half. Los Blancos got the job done, though, completing a league double over Barcelona this season.
The provider of Real Madrid’s second goal, it was Kroos’ freekick which was deflected by Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba before finding its way into the back of the net. That was his first freekick goal for Los Blancos in six attempts. The midfielder also spurned a headed chance in the second half.
A robust presence alongside Militao at the back, Nacho made his presence known to Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates. There were a couple of fouls on the Argentine from the Spaniard, too.
The Belgian made a couple of crucial interventions to deny Dembele or Messi the chance of beating him in the first half. The latter almost found a way past him straight from a corner. There wasn’t much he could do about Mingueza’s goal, though.
The only change to the line-up that beat Liverpool, the Uruguayan reinforced Real Madrid’s midfield in the Clasico. He unsettled Barcelona’s midfield and defence with a run that led to the opening goal before hitting the post himself later in the first half. Defensively, he helped his right-backs out in dealing with Jordi Alba.
Barcelona found it extremely difficult to contain the right-back, who pushed forward on every occasion he could. He delivered the cross for Benzema’s opener and perhaps should’ve scored himself with the rebound after Valverde had hit the post. Only Sergio Busquets’ tough challenge stopped him from continuing.
The Brazilian was the leader of the team in a defensive sense. He dictated the intensity with which his teammates played, putting in plenty of challenges himself, particularly when the rain had slickened up the pitch. It was these challenges that ultimately cost him his place on the pitch in the latter stages, earning two yellow cards in the final minutes.
The Brazilian proved exceptionally dangerous on the counter attack against Barcelona’s back three. He forced the freekick that Kroos converted and set Valverde up to hit the post not long afterwards.
Zidane brought on the veteran to change to a formation with five defenders with 20 minutes to go.
Ousmane Dembele had been in fine form before he came up against Mendy. Barcelona’s No.11 didn’t get much joy playing up against his compatriot and didn’t get a penalty when he went down under his challenge in the first half. The visitors were after a spot kick when Martin Braithwaite went down next to him in the second half, too.
The Spaniard made his first appearance for Real Madrid since the start of February, coming on for the injured Lucas at the end of the first half.
Having scored in his previous four matches in all competitions, the substitute couldn’t make it five in a row against Barcelona.
The midfielder was part of Zidane’s triple change in the 72nd minute and had a couple of attempts during his time on the pitch.