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Ramos and Varane stellar in defence as Real bottle up Barcelona

Ramos and Varane stellar in defence as Real bottle up Barcelona
From ESPN - August 13, 2017

Real Madrid took a giant step toward winning the Spanish Super Cup after defeating Barcelona, 3-1, at the Camp Nou. With a combative performance and aided by some top-class finishing, Zinedine Zidane's squad showed their remarkable depth, as well as an impressive physical strength at this point of the summer. The second leg, on Wednesday in Madrid, will give Zidane some room to rest players and the chance to try new approaches against Real Madrid's biggest rivals.

Positives

Several players such as Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Mateo Kovacic looked in top form despite the early stages of the season. The centre of the midfield line with Casemiro and Kovacic worked well, as the suspended Luka Modric was rarely missed. The team overcame a hesitant final 10 minutes of the first half and came back firing after the interval, showing the mental consistency that has made them be so successful under Zidane. The result is almost decisive for this title, and the morale boost from such a convincing win at the Camp Nou ca not be overstated.

Negatives

Kovacic's injury, when he looked omnipresent and in excellent shape. Ronaldo's sending off. The amount of chances the team conceded against an obviously out of form Barcelona, still far from their best.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- The lineup was solid, his halftime speech worked wonders, and his subs all were important for the win. However, Marco Asensio for Kovacic was a bit of a gamble and freed up Lionel Messi, who started to influence the match when the Croatian left the pitch. Another midfielder would have perhaps made more sense, even though it would have denied Asensio a stunning goal to wrap up the match.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Keylor Navas, 8 -- Has recovered his confidence and looks as intimidating as he did at the beginning of last season. Unfairly punished with a penalty kick after Luis Suarez dove.

DF Daniel Carvajal, 7 -- Great energy and movement, he will probably miss Danilo to rest a few matches this season. Irreplaceable right now.

DF Sergio Ramos, 8 -- Serious, composed and less spectacular than his French colleague, Ramos played well in the skipper role and kept the team focused when it was most needed.

DF Raphael Varane, 9 -- One of his best matches in a Real Madrid shirt (ugly though that away shirt is). Great tackles, fantastic positioning, impressive speed versus Barcelona's forwards. Zidane's bet on him is paying off. His performance during Barcelona's best moments was key to keep Real in the match.

DF Marcelo, 8 -- Incisive, gave Aleix Vidal plenty of trouble. Must avoid getting caught up in arguments with Barcelona players, as one of them almost cost his team dearly because he did not track back.

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