Ramos and Casemiro 8/10s help Real Madrid back against Osasuna

Steve Nicol believes Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid’s top priority this season is winning La Liga.

Real Madrid came back from a goal down to beat Osasuna 4-1 in La Liga on Sunday. Defender Unai Garcia gave Osasuna an early lead at El Sadar as the home side started on top, but Real Madrid responded and Isco equalised with a well-taken volley before captain Sergio Ramos headed them in front before half-time.

The second half saw Isco have a fierce shot saved before Karim Benzema played in substitute Lucas Vazquez to secure the three points, and Luka Jovic took a late chance in added time.


Osasuna have a formidable home record and El Sadar is an intimidating place to play. Real Madrid are just the third visiting team to win there this season and their response to going behind early in front of a hostile crowd was hugely encouraging. This is the kind of result and performance that suggests they have what it takes to win the title, especially as a response to their elimination from the Copa del Rey in midweek.

Madrid’s defensive form remains impressive. They have conceded 14 league goals this season — the fewest in the club’s history with 23 games played — and the issue for Zinedine Zidane’s side has been in attack. The goal scoring contributions of Isco, Ramos and Vazquez suggest spreading the goals around may be the answer, and Jovic should take confidence from his late strike.


Madrid did start poorly as they were put under immediate pressure by an Osasuna side who have based their success on results at El Sadar, roared on by a crowd who relish the visit of Real Madrid above all others. Thibaut Courtois had already saved them once when they did go behind. After the first 15 minutes though, there were very few negatives to take from a comprehensive away win.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Zinedine Zidane returned to a more familiar-looking team after Madrid’s midweek Copa del Rey exit, with eight changes. The most notable were Courtois in goal, Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy at full-back, the irreplaceable Casemiro in midfield and Gareth Bale in attack.

The team lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Bale starting on the right and Isco on the left. While they started slowly and went behind, Zidane will have been delighted with what followed. His substitutions were spot on, with Vazquez and Jovic both scoring off the bench.

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

GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 — The gulf between Courtois and reserve keeper Alphonse Areola is huge now. While Areola slipped up against Real Sociedad in midweek, Courtois looks solid and dependable, making a crucial early save from Ruben Garcia when Osasuna looked likely to take the lead. Blameless for their goal.

DF Dani Carvajal, 8 — Looks back to his best. Offers so much going forward, as was demonstrated in a hectic first half that saw him have a shot blocked, cross for Bale to head over the bar, and almost catch the goalkeeper out with another effort. All while dealing with Osasuna’s Pervis Estupinan who is one of the best attacking full-backs in La Liga.

DF Sergio Ramos, 8 — Madrid are deeply unpopular at El Sadar and Ramos even less so, not least after a heavy first-half challenge on Garcia that was lucky to escape punishment. Ramos thrives in a hostile environment though and he had a very good game, scoring Madrid’s all-important second goal. Finally booked late on.

DF Raphael Varane, 7 — Not as eye-catching a performance as his centre-back partner Ramos, except for one second half chance when he looked likely to make it 3-1 before the offside flag went up.

DF Ferland Mendy, 7 — Straight back in at left-back after a disappointing showing from Marcelo in the Copa del Rey. Mendy is increasingly assured and impressive, and Real Madrid’s defensive improvement this season is in no small part down to him. More of their attacking play here came down the right.

MF Casemiro, 8 — Undroppable. There’s no-one else like him in the Real Madrid squad and, as we saw in midweek, Zidane’s only problem is when to give him a break. Showed his value early on when getting back to cut out the danger after Estupinan had burst into the box. Beaten in the air by Unai Garcia for Osasuna’s opening goal but made up for it by setting up Ramos for Madrid’s second.

MF Fede Valverde, 7 — One run late in the first half showed what he’s all about, winning the ball in Madrid’s half and bursting forward down the left as Osasuna did their best to keep up with him. Has incredible stamina and got forward to provide a late assist for Jovic.

MF Luka Modric, 8 — Very important in away games like this and helped Madrid wrest control of the game back from Osasuna in the first half. In the absence of Toni Kroos, Modric was on set-piece duty, taking the corner for Madrid’s second goal.

MF Isco, 8 — One of his better, more influential games this season. Started on the left but frequently moved inside. One glorious early pass in behind for Bale, and later scored the equaliser on the volley after the ball fell to him in the box: his first league goal in 10 months. 

FW Gareth Bale, 6 — It feels like Bale is always in the spotlight whether in or out of the team. Left out entirely for the last two games despite being fully fit, Zidane brought him straight back in. Had a busy first half, hit the side netting with one shot and then had a terrific chance to equalise with a header from Carvajal’s cross, before a much quieter second period.

FW Karim Benzema, 8 — Had one shot cleared off the line but was otherwise quiet in the first half. Improved later in the game and was smart to react towards the end, winning the ball back and waiting for the right moment to play a perfect pass for Vazquez’s goal.


FW Lucas Vazquez, 7 — Zidane’s first change, on for Bale with 20 minutes to go. Provides energy and a tireless work ethic. Those fresh legs saw him burst into the box to score the third.

FW Vinicius Jr, NR — Real Madrid’s best player in the cup in midweek but that wasn’t enough to win him a place in the starting XI. Played the last 10 minutes.

FW Luka Jovic, NR — Replaced Benzema with a few minutes to go and scored a beautifully-taken goal in added time that should give him some much-needed confidence.