Karim Benzema injured, Gareth Bale wasteful in draw with Levante
Real Madrid were held to a second consecutive draw in the Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane's side failed to find a way through a well-drilled Levante side who caused problems on the break and defended stoutly. Ivi opened the scoring for the visitors and Lucas Vazquez replied for Madrid, with both goals coming in the first half.
Real managed 18 shots, 10 of them target, rattled the woodwork through Toni Kroos and had 13 corners in a game dominated by the home side. Not for the first time in the Bernabeu Raul shone above most others, but in this case, it was the Levante keeper, who made some excellent saves.
Karim Benzema limped off on 28 minutes and Real lost their edge in front of goal with the departure of the Frenchman, who looked the most likely to score in the opening exchanges. Gareth Bale failed to compensate for the striker's absence, missing two clear chances. Real's defensive switch-off to concede was collective and utterly calamitous.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Rotation is one thing but making so many changes left Real disjointed in midfield. After Benzema went off, Zidane had no recognised striker available with Borja Mayoral not even on the bench. Usually the manager's in-game management is sound but his side failed to adjust their approach when seeking a winner, sending in cross after cross despite Levante being more than comfortable in the air.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kiko Casilla, 7 -- A firm punch on 11 minutes set the tone for a solid display from the backup keeper, who was left exposed for the goal but commanded his area well otherwise and was quick to come out when required.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- A rare off day for the full-back, who lost his bearings for Ivi's goal and later his rag, going in the book for a tussle with Jefferson Lerma. Covered his lines well enough with three tackles but lacked his usual impact going forward.
DF Nacho, 7 -- An excellent covering tackle early on was perhaps the canterano's finest intervention but he also dealt well with Levante's tactic of aiming every long ball at Alex Alegria, who the No. 6 was tasked with marking.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- The captain sprayed some inviting balls from the back but that is hardly his chief role. Was involved in the build-up to Real's goal -- but possibly illegally as he climbed on a Levante defender -- and excellent in the air under the visitors' aerial bombardment at the other end. That being said, must shoulder some of the blame for failing to marshal his defence for Ivi's strike.
DF Theo Hernandez, 5 -- An anonymous first half, notable only for an attempt to win a penalty-Oscar. The debutant showed occasional flashes of an understanding with Marcelo but his game was summed up by poor control on the break with five minutes to go and a cross into Raul's hands in stoppage time.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- Only Bale and Marco Asensio had more shots but Kroos was hampered by the absence of Luka Modric and the need to keep an eye on Marcos Llorente. The best of Madrid's stuttering midfield, the result could have been much worse if he had not been there.
MF Marcos Llorente, 6 -- Comfortable enough on the ball and showed good positional awareness but an adequate replacement for Casemiro's energy and Modric's eye the youngster is not. Also given a torrid time by Alegria, he didn't do too much wrong but won't be included for the tough trip to Anoeta.
MF Lucas Vazquez, 7 -- A lovely flick for Asensio at the start of the game in a typically bustling performance but Vazquez was among those lacking fresh ideas in attack. He was on hand to tap in the rebound from Ramos' header though for Madrid's lone goal.
MF Marco Asensio, 7 -- A quiet performance from the Spain international by his recent standards, he at least tested Raul a couple of times and was the most incisive attacker on a bleak day for Zidane's forward line.
MF Marcelo, 5 -- Handed a role as an out-and-out winger, the Brazilian enjoyed himself on the left and put in some decent crosses. Levante were far more concerned with Marcelo's incursions than anything happening on the right but getting sent off for a petulant kick on Lerma at 1-1 in the 89th minute wasn't the cleverest move from the vice-captain.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 -- Came out firing and full of running, winning possession and looking dangerous in front of goal until he pulled up and limped off. Likely set for at least a month on the sidelines due to injury.
FW Gareth Bale, 5 -- On for Benzema, Bale fluffed a one-on-one and sent a header wide late on with the goal at his mercy.
MF Isco, 6 -- On for the final half hour, Isco made some good runs and tormented the Levante defence with his footwork but to no tangible effect other than an Asensio shot.
MF Mateo Kovacic, NR -- Replaced Vazquez towards the end but had little overall impact on Real's afternoon.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.