Player Ratings: Athletic Club 1-2 Real Madrid – 2021/22

Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to eight points following a 2-1 victory over Athletic Club on Wednesday thanks to a brace from Karim Benzema.

The game was Real Madrid’s final match of 2021 and Ancelotti’s men made sure that despite the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the club, they’d sign off the year with a win.

Los Blancos were off to a very quick start, with Karim Benzema opening the scoring inside five minutes. The Frenchman stunned Bilbao with a superb strike into the far corner of the net. Moments later, the Frenchman found the net again for his 15th LaLiga goal of the season. The ball broke to Benzema following a touch from Unai Nunez and Karim made no mistake, finishing neatly past Julen Agirrezabala.

The madness continued, with Athletic pulling one back in the 10th minute. Oihan Sancet produced a stunning effort to pull one back for the hosts. As time went on, Athletic Club threw more and more men forward which provided opportunities for Real Madrid to add another on the counter. Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and debutant Peter Federico all came close but Julen Agirrezabala came up big to keep the score at 2-1 to the away side.

Real Madrid held on for a hard-fought three points which see them move eight points clear at the top of LaLiga and 18 ahead of Barcelona. Our player ratings:

Starting XI:

Thibaut Courtois: 7.5/10

Not much he could do to stop Oihan Sancet’s excellent strike. The Belgian was barely tested throughout the 90 minutes but did make a great save to deny Nico Williams in the second-half.

Lucas Vazquez: 6/10

Kept his place in the team with Carvajal still out injured. Bilbao targeted Vazquez’s flank throughout the 90 minutes resulting in a difficult night for the Galician. Sub-par performance.

Eder Militao: 8/10

Arguably Real Madrid’s most consistent player alongside Benzema. The Brazilian has been in sensational form this season and that was the case again tonight. 2 clearances, 2 blocked shots, 1 interception & 2 tackles. Immense.

Nacho: 7.5/10

In for Alaba who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. The Spaniard could’ve done better to block Sancet’s shot but definitely can’t be blamed for the goal. Overall, it was a solid shift from Nacho.

Ferland Mendy: 7.5/10

Had a couple of sloppy moments throughout the game but the Frenchman coped well with Nico Williams’ pace and trickery.

Fede Valverde: 7.5/10

A typical Fede performance. The Uruguayan was his usual tireless self in the middle of the park, allowing Real Madrid to dominate and see through tough spells of the game.

Toni Kroos: 8/10

With both Modric and Casemiro missing, it was down to Kroos to keep Real Madrid ticking in the middle of the park. The German was fantastic on the ball, completing 95 of his 103 passes (92% accuracy) and 13 out of 15 long balls attempted. He also registered an assist for Benzema’s opener.

Eduardo Camavinga: 8/10

It is a big ask for any player to fill in for Casemiro, let alone a 19-year old. The young Frenchman did however put in an excellent shift, ending the game with six tackles and 9 ground duels won.

Eden Hazard: 7/10

Second consecutive start for Eden. The Belgian put in a decent display without really affecting the outcome of the match. He came close to scoring in the second-half but saw the shot from his weaker right foot denied brilliantly by Athletic’s goalkeeper, Julen Agirrezabala.

Karim Benzema: 9/10

Running out of superlatives to describe Karim. The Frenchman opened the scoring for his team with an incredible strike, one of the best goals so far this season. He then went on to double his team’s lead with a well taken finish that turned out to be the winner. 20 goals already this season and it’s only just December. The best in the world.

Vinicius Jr: 7/10

Not the best of performances from Vinicius. The Brazilian looked fatigued and will undoubtedly welcome the upcoming winter break.


Mariano Diaz: N/A Came on to replace Vinicius late on.

Peter Federico: N/A Came on as a late substitute to replace Hazard for his debut. The youngster was very sharp during his time on the pitch and should’ve had an assist to his name had Jovic taken his chance properly.

Luka Jovic: N/A Came on to replace Karim Benzema in stoppage time. The Serbian had an excellent chance to score late on but didn’t hit the ball cleanly enough.

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