Real Madrid ratings: Bale in free fall, Courtois not giving up
Only Thibaut Courtois produced his usual level of performance as Real Madrid fell to defeat at relegation strugglers Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
In his first appearance under Zinedine Zidane, Courtois was Real Madrid's stand-out performer. Solid right from the start, he produced two good early stops, the second of which in a one-on-one with José Ángel Pozo, before being given little chance with Adri Embarba's penalty. After the break, he put in two more saves. Keylor Navas looks to be Zidane's first choice, but the Belgian certainly isn't throwing in the towel.
Carvajal looked like he might have to go off after a coming-together with Embarba after half an hour, but was finally able to continue. Found wanting on several of Rayo's forays forward, the right-back is well short of his best form.
You get the feeling that it's always Varane's defensive partner who makes life easier for him, rather than the other way round. That was the case once more at Vallecas. Jesús Vallejo was far more at the races than the Frenchman, who is a shadow of his usual self. Madrid need Sergio Ramos back...
Having been nice and quick into the tackle in the early stages, Vallejo lost concentration after 22 minutes, let Javi Guerra in behind him, tugged his shirt and conceded the penalty from which Embarba scored Rayo's winner. Despite that, Vallejo has done decently in the two run-outs he has been given over the past week.
Ineffective in attack and sloppy (to put it mildly) at the back. Now that it seems he and Zidane have agreed that the Madrid left-back berth is to remain his next season, it is painfully evident that the Brazilian is already on the beach.
Llorente proved more effective in plugging the gaps left by Varane and Vallejo than in playing the ball out from deep. A display that won't have helped him to win over Zidane.
After a passive 13-minute cameo against Getafe on Thursday, on this occasion Kroos worked hard to impose himself on the game - but didn't manage to. Since Madrid's hopes of major silverware came to an end, the German has been one of a few whose performances have been a black mark on an otherwise stellar career at the Bernabéu.
All at sea. Modric was distinctly second best in the midfield battle with Mario Suárez and Uche Agbo, and was withdrawn midway through the second half. The end of the season can't come soon enough for the Croat...
Ceballos had one of Madrid's best chances of the first half, but his header (an area of the game that clearly isn't his strong point) flew off target. He was the first player to be taken off by Zidane. The midfielder occupies a lowly position in the pecking order under the Frenchman, and is evidently affected by this state of affairs.
Shortly before Rayo won their penalty, the ball came to Bale in the hosts' area, but his outside-of-the-boot attempt flashed wide from close range. It was a miss that showed where his head is at right now. He kept on looking for goal in the second half, for example trying his luck from a long-range free-kick, but it wasn't his day. He has now gone 396 minutes without scoring...
With Karim Benzema injured, Mariano finally got his chance. He started out in busy, bustling mood, but he isn't Benzema. He can't pull the strings in attack like the Frenchman can, and Madrid's sluggish tempo did him no good. He ended up being substituted, and looks to have one foot out of the door.
Brahim came on for Ceballos and did at least try to make life difficult for Álex Moreno, so much so that he was left appealing for a penalty after a challenge by the Rayo left-back after 72 minutes. The 19-year-old was the only substitute who had a discernible impact.
Isco came on for Modric after 73 minutes, but was unable to conjure anything up in the short time he was on the field.
Lucas was introduced in place of Mariano with 10 minutes to go, and had little success on the right wing.
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