Karim Benzema bags a brace, Gareth Bale whistled as Madrid edge Eibar
Real Madrid's slow limp to the end of the season continued with an uninspiring 2-1 victory at home to Eibar at the Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.
Madrid's big players at least reacted to an awful first half by upping the intensity after the break to turn the game around, as has happened in each of the three home games since Zinedine Zidane returned as coach. Amid the general apathy through much of the first hour, Karim Benzema again stood out with his goal and general leadership on the pitch.
Madrid's first-half performance was so lacklustre that club president Florentino Perez might have thought of livening things up and increasing crowds for Madrid's remaining home fixtures by introducing a "worst performer each game is automatically put up for sale" promotion. Although that could lead some players to take the chance to secure their summer exit.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Zidane pre-game claimed his players' "pride" should ensure a good performance but some of his biggest players appeared almost embarrassed by the lack of anything to play for.. After the first 45 minutes brought zero shots on target and just one foul, it seemed some harsh words at half-time improved the work rate and focus after the break.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 7 -- Young right-back was one of the few Madrid players sprinting at full speed throughout. Eibar's left-winger Marc Cucurella tormented Madrid in their first meeting this season, but was withdrawn early here after being almost totally shut down.
DF Raphael Varane, 5 -- The totally unfocused performance of a player seriously considering taking on a "new challenge" elsewhere -- most obviously when standing and watching as Eibar opened the scoring almost in slow motion.
DF Nacho, 6 -- Not been a good season for Madrid's previously super reliable backup defender, who is still not back to full match sharpness months after returning from injury.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 6 -- With Marcelo suspended, Reguilon got his first start since Zidane's return, and Madrid benefitted from their left-back quickly scampering back into position when home attacks broke down. That said, he was caught out of position as Cardona opened the scoring.
MF Luka Modric, 6 -- Continues to work hard and give everything but running on empty after a very demanding last 12 months. Had Madrid's first shot on target just after half-time, helping the momentum swing in the game.
MF Federico Valverde, 6 -- Given a chance in the holding role and held centre well with some neat interventions and tackles. His inexperience showed though, in his ability to link play and get the team flowing.
MF Isco, 6 -- Much of Madrid's inability to get the play moving in the first half was due to Isco not even trying to play Toni Kroos' usual role of taking ball from CBs and initiating moves. Was happier further forward playing balls behind Eibar's very high line of defence, notably his early first-time ball which Bale really should have converted.
FW Gareth Bale, 5 -- Among the least motivated looking of Madrid's players (a competition in itself), but that should be no surprise really given he was already being whistled by frustrated fans three minutes in. Almost immediately afterwards, he missed a simple one-on-one with Eibar keeper Marko Dmitrovic. Moved around more in second half but whistled again when withdrawn on 77 minutes.
FW Karim Benzema, 8 -- As so often this season, Benzema was Madrid's best performer and most likely source of a goal. After having two close-range strikes ruled out for offsides, he produced two textbook headers to turn the game around in the second half. Up to 17 La Liga goals and clearly his team's most outstanding player of 2018-19.
FW Marco Asensio, 6 -- Suffered among the general apathy of the first half, but did provide an excellent hanging cross from the right wing for Benzema's equaliser.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- Got the ball moving forward quicker when replacing Modric, and provided the cross after a short corner from which Benzema Headed in the winner.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 7 -- His increased work rate helped after he replaced Bale. Unselfishly laid on a third goal for Benzema, only for the Frenchman to miss the open goal.
MF Brahim Diaz, N/R -- Another few minutes of pitch time for the youngster who Zidane is introducing back into the team.