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Get that money, Vini! Real Madrid winners, losers & ratings as winger shows who's boss in dominant performance vs Valencia

6:03 PM EST 2/2/23
Vinicius Junior celebrate Real Madrid Valencia 2022-23
Vinicius Junior scored a wonderful goal and frustrated Valencia's defence, leading Real Madrid to a 2-0 win on Thursday.

Finally, a convincing win for Real Madrid.

They turned a poor first half into an electric second, with Vinicius Junior scoring, creating a litany of chances and frustrating Valencia to the point of a mind-blowing red-card challenge, all while the winger stuck it to ex-sponsor Nike in a 2-0 win. He backed up the strong message he sent to the boot maker, showing every bit of his worth after he blacked out his boots in the first half.

The signal to Nike? Vinicius Junior has the juice, and if you aren't going to pay for it, surely someone else will.

Still, it wasn't all good news for Madrid. They lost both Eder Militao and Karim Benzema to injury, both players appearing to pick up muscle problems to dampen what would otherwise be a perfect night.

Real Madrid had been frustrated by a disallowed goal, but when Carlo Ancelotti's side put the ball in the net for a second time in the 52nd minute, it stood. Marco Asensio cut onto his left foot and lashed the ball into the top corner, handing Madrid a 1-0 lead shortly after half-time. Vinicius Junior made it two 90 seconds later, darting down the left wing and slotting the ball into the far corner.

The home side could've had two or three more. Rodrygo narrowly missed a free-kick. Asensio curled a shot wide. Aurelien Tchouameni, returning from injury, sent an effort over the bar. But after Gabriel Paulista was sent off for a horrific kick on Vinicius Junior, Madrid exerted more control, and cruised to a 2-0 win.

Los Blancos now trail Barcelona by five points in La Liga, and will hope that the Blaugrana slip up in the coming weeks. But this was a promising performance from Carlo Ancelotti's side, and one that they can build on.

  • Marco Asensio 2022-23

    The Winners

    Vinicius Junior:

    Sometimes, he gets in these moods. He terrorized Valencia's defence Thursday night, given constant opportunities to run off the left wing. He struggled early, and overhit a few passes. But he was magnificent after the break, burning the Valencia back line for a wonderful goal and making opponents look very silly with some signature skills. The visitors resorted to kicking him by the end of the match, with Gabriel Paulista earning himself a straight red card in a show of frustration. Vinicius Junior now has three goal involvements in his last three games, and appears to be finding some of the form that made him so devastating last year.

    Luka Modric:

    The Croatian has been steadily integrated back into the side, and it hasn't always gone his way over the last few weeks. While there have still been some good moments - outrageous passes, exquisite turns - Modric has been a bit out of touch. He showed signs of his former self on Thursday evening, though. With Toni Kroos influencing the game from a defensive midfield role, Modric had more room to roam. And he made the most of it, orchestrating Madrid's play, while also getting forward and creating chances. It wasn't quite a perfect performance - Modric needed his subsitution after 65 minutes. But he looked more like the world class midfielder seen at the Bernabeu over the last few years.

    Marco Asensio:

    There are a number of players in the Madrid side vying for a new contract at season's end, and Asensio is one of them. But he's been inconsistent when called upon this year, his performances amounting to little proof that he deserves a new deal. Asensio showed exactly what he is capable of on Thursday night, though, scoring an excellent goal while also being involved in some wonderful moves from an inside right position. It will be interesting to see if Madrid hand him a new deal - and what kind of role he gets moving forward - but he made his claim to stay at the Bernabeu with this showing.

  • Gabriel Paulista kick Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2022-23

    The Losers

    Gabriel Paulista:

    What was he thinking? After starting the game so well, Valencia's centre-back got himself sent off for a reckless kick at Vinicius Junior in the second half. He made things worse for himself, too, shoving Vinicius when the Brazilian reacted after the foul. The foul appeared to be a moment of madness for the Brazil international, but his stupidity cost his team dearly. A longer ban could be in order; it was a truly horrible tackle.

    Karim Benzema:

    Benzema was enjoying an excellent game before going off injured. The striker assisted two goals and almost set up a third. He had a couple of good chances, too, but Valencia's desperate defending prevented the Madrid captain from finding the net. Still, this night will be remembered for the fact that Real Madrid's star picked up a knock. It appeared to be an innocuous thing; Benzema reached for his thigh after slightly scuffing a shot. Ancelotti said after the match that it was precautionary. It remains to be seen if the striker faces some time on the sidelines.


    Vinicius Junior walked away from his Nike sponsorship this week and played in blacked-out boots in the first half as a reminder that his next deal is up for grabs. He'll be paid. A lot. And based on Thursday's display, the company that lands him will get a special return on the investment.

  • Antonio Rudiger Real Madrid Valencia

    Real Madrid Ratings: Defence

    Thibaut Courtois (6/10):

    Probably got bored with his side so in control.

    Nacho (7/10):

    Moved to centre-back after Militao got injured, and equipped himself well. Might have to play there some more if the Brazilian is out.

    Eder Militao (5/10):

    Had little to do before being subbed off with a muscle injury 35 minutes in. With David Alaba injured and Dani Carvajal still short of match fitness, Madrid will hope it's not a bad one.

    Antonio Rudiger (6/10):

    Scored off a corner, but saw it chalked off. Was otherwise solid in a quiet night.

    Eduardo Camavinga (6/10):

    Put in a shift at left-back and managed some industrious runs forward. Was involved in the build up for both goals. Isn't a natural left-back, but can certainly fill in.

  • Luka Modric Real Madrid Valencia 2022-23


    Dani Ceballos (7/10):

    Handed another start after impressing in recent weeks. Made some lovely runs, but didn't quite connect in the final third. Another solid shift, nonetheless.

    Toni Kroos (7/10):

    Completed all but one of his passes, which is fairly ridiculous. A much improved showing.

    Luka Modric (7/10):

    Looked more like himself after a rough few weeks. Sprayed the ball around and made some lovely runs, too. Would've had an assist after feeding Benzema, but the Frenchman's shot was blocked. Subbed off after a wonderful 65 minutes.

  • Karim Benzema Real Madrid frustrated 2022-23


    Marco Asensio (7/10):

    Started poorly, but fizzed the ball into the top corner to open the scoring for Madrid shortly after half time. Unplayable for some passages, average for some others. A curious footballer who could yet receive the new contract he so dearly covets.

    Karim Benzema (6/10):

    One outrageous backheel almost set up Asensio early. Assisted both goals. Substituted with an injury after an hour, and Madrid will hope it's not a major problem.

    Vinicius Junior (8/10):

    Scored a lovely goal and got a heartwarming hug from the manager for his efforts.

  • Subs & Manager

    Dani Carvajal (6/10):

    Forced on due to injury and offered some more width on the right. Good to get a run out after a series of knocks.

    Rodrygo (6/10):

    Not a terrific 30-minute cameo, but serviceable in the false-9 role. Almost scored an audacious free-kick.

    Fede Valverde (6/10):

    Seemed to benefit from coming into the game once the pace had slowed a bit. Completed all of his passes and looked sharper than he has recently.

    Aurelien Tchouameni (6/10):

    A welcome return from being sidelined - although he did blast one over from 25 yards.

    Carlo Ancelotti (7/10):

    Almost a perfect night before Benzema and Militao came off injured. Madrid were fantastic, especially towards the end of the second half, and scored two memorable goals. It all felt a bit like last year, with Ancelotti not really changing much and his team finding another gear. The Benzema injury, in particular, is a big concern, though.