Alejandro Moreno says that Luka Modric is back in top form for the first time since the 2018 World Cup (0:43)

Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos scored a goal as Real Madrid beat Valencia 2-0 on Sunday to keep pressure on Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table

It was a comfortable win With three points in the first half, Valencia couldn’t record a single shot on goal Casemiro had already saved a long-range shot from Jaume Domenech when Benzema hit the goalkeeper with a slight curling attempt from the left

Dani Carvajal hobbled away injured after 25 minutes, but Madrid continued to dominate and Kroos doubled his lead and shot into the bottom corner after substitute Lucas Vazquez retired. In the second half, Thibaut Courtois stepped into action for the first time and saved Maxi Gomez ‘powerful shot while Ferland Mendy had a clever offside

This was a direct win for Madrid against a team from Valencia who recently completed their worst first half of the season since introducing three points for a win, but that half of the season included a 4-1 win over Madrid in Mestalla in November This was a satisfactory result on an afternoon when, after Atletico’s win yesterday, only one win could be achieved again

Madrid’s greatest strength is midfield, and this afternoon Casemiro, Luka Modric and Kroos were way ahead of anything Valencia had to offer. All three have played arguably some of their best football games this season, even if the entire team hasn’t clicked

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Carvajal’s injury record is going to be a major issue for Real Madrid this year.If he’s fit he is one of the best full-backs but he has missed football for more than three months this season and that’s before he has the extent of this recent setback that occurs shortly before the return of the Champions League

Madrid have alternatives for the right-back – Vazquez has done an admirable performance there this season and Ferland Mendy can switch flanks – but none of them compare to a full-fledged Carvajal

7 – Zinedine Zidane’s team were impressive here, despite the backing of a below-average opponent.The coaching options are still limited as seven players (Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard, Fede Valverde, Marcelo, Rodrygo, Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola) absent The first XI remains strong and the weakness is only evident on a bench full of young people

GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 – Not once in the first half disturbed by a team from Valencia that did not fire a single shot So they did very well to save spectacularly from Gomez after the break

DF Dani Carvajal, 6 – Back after six weeks with a hamstring injury and only 25 minutes before hobbling again

DF Raphael Varane, 6 – Captured by Goncalo Guedes in the first half who was booked Didn’t have to be at his best here

DF Nacho, 6 – Looked like he picked up an injury in the first half but recovered to put in a solid performance against a toothless attack in Valencia

DF Ferland Mendy, 7 – Had plenty of room on the left to move forward and was keen to take advantage of it Did it really well to miss his chance in the second half only to be turned down by the offside flag Meet Benzema again

MF Casemiro, 8 – Arguably the most influential player in Real Madrid week after week Jaume almost got an early shot Otherwise he had a decent game

MF Toni Kroos, 8 – Back from his midweek ban against Getafe with a goal – his first in 2021 – and assist.The goal for the goal was Kroos at his best: he made it look simple and effortless even if it wasn’t

MF Luka Modric, 8 – Busy Blocked a shot in the first half, prepared Benzema for a chance near the post and then saved another attempt in the first 45 minutes. A nice second half for Benzema too

FW Marco Asensio, 7 – His willingness to run on the defensive is so important on a team that sometimes struggles to open up opponents. Well done without outperforming

FW Vinicius Junior, 7 – Holds his place despite Vazquez being available in a statement of faith from Zidane Still looks unconfident and has no spark, but would have had some support if Mendy’s heel hadn’t been sidelined

FW Karim Benzema, 8 – Loves to score against Valencia, with six goals in his last five games against Valencia, shrugged off an ankle injury in the first minute to kick off and had a number of other chances that were a constant threat

FW Lucas Vazquez, 7 – Replaced for Carvajal after his relapse after just recovering from his injury Set Kroos for his goal and play well overall

FW Sergio Arribas, NR – Played for Asensio for the last 20 minutes and the youngster looked good again

Real Madrid – Valencia

World news – FI – Real ease to Valencia with an excellent 8/10 game from Kroos, Casemiro