Vinicius JR and Sergio Ramos take Real Madrid to the top of La Liga
Zidane started an unpredictable lineup against Mallorca. It was rumored that Ramos will start on the bench, but the coach decided to play him along Varane, Carvajal and Mendy in defense. The surprise came in midfield, where Zidane decided to rest Kroos and play a two-man midfield of Modric and Fede. That meant that there will be 4 attackers: Bale, Hazard, Vinicius jr and Benzema.
It took Real Madrid only a few moments to show their attacking prowes. In the 7th minute, Benzema was on the receiving end of a Mendy cross, but his shot wasn’t accurate enough from close distance and was saved by Reina. Only seconds later, Bale threatened with a long distance shot from the left, but once again Reina was focused and stopped the shot.
Unable to break through the Real Madrid defense, Mallorca’s Idrissu Baba took a long-range shot which forced a great, fingertip save from Courtois.Embed from Getty Images
Modric started a great counter-attack that saw Hazard with a great pass on the left for a running Vinicius Jr, the brazilian’s shot however was blocked by the defender. Similar to Modric, Dani Carvajal stopped a coutner attack and Real Madrid start their own, Modric with a great pass finds a running Vinicius (see the pattern?) again and this time he manages to chip the goalkeeper for 1-0. Mallorca asked for a Dani Carvajal foul, but VAR said there was none.
Moments later, Benzema finds Vinicius in the box again, but this time his chip shot hit the crossbar.Embed from Getty Images
The Real Madrid lineup was working, for the most part. Gareth Bale found himself unable to do anything in offense, but he helped the midfield and even the defense when needed. He made more recoveries -7- than Ramos, Mendy and Carvajal. Hazard was playing as an Attacking Midfielder, but often we saw him drift, maybe unwillingly, to the left which is his natural position.
Modric and Mendy received yellow cards in the second half, something that must have been planned. Now they are both suspended and will miss the next game against Espanyol on Sunday.
Vinicius and Benzema had the first dangerous chance of the second half when a pass from a great Vinicius play finds Benzema just outside the box, but his somewhat rushed shot went outside.Embed from Getty Images
It was the 56th minute when Real Madrid receive a free-kick outside the box. Bale, Benzema and Ramos all lineup to take. In the end, it was Sergio Ramos who takes the freekick and scores an unsavable shot in the top left corner. One of the best goals of his career.
With a comfortable 2-0 advantage, Real Madrid’s intensity dropped a lot. This gave Mallorca an opportunity to control the game, but the guests weren’t able to create much danger. Takefusa Kubo was Mallorca’s best player of the night. Most of their attacks went through him but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Zidane responded by making a lot of substitutions. Hazard, Bale and Modric left the field for Kroos, Asensio and Isco. And a few minutes later, Brahim Diaz and Mariano came in for Benzema and Vinicius. The subs only effect was to stop Mallorca even further. Noth much was created on either end.
Real Madrid’s defense was stellar throughout the game. Ramos and Varane stopped everything that came their way. The Real Madrid duo look like they are in top form right now.
We got to see the debut of youngest player in La Liga, the hyped up Luka Romero. He didn’t have a chance to prove himself.
There wasn’t much action in the second half. Real Madrid seemed content with the 2-0 lead and Mallorca weren’t good enough to threaten that.
Real Madrid managed to win one of the easier remaining games without breaking a sweat. Zidane rotated heavily and rested some key players. Thankfully, there were no injuries either.Embed from Getty Images
Takefusa Kubo was Mallorca’s best player of the night. At times, it took some hard fouls to stop the Japanese star. He was levels above his Mallorca teammates. Kubo will probably leave them at the end of the season, in hopes of playing for a better team or even coming back to Real Madrid.
Another great game for Vinicius. He scored a beautiful chip goal that saw him cooler than usual in front of the goal. During the entire time he played, he kept breaking the Mallorca defense with great timed runs and dribbles. He could have easily had another goal to his name if his finishing was more polished.
Luka Modric and Ferland Mendy both got their fifth yellow card of the season. That means that they will miss the next game against Espanyol. This is good news for Real Madrid as they have enough depth to beat Espanyol without them and the two players get the suspension out of the way for the remaining 7 games.