CWC: Modric and Benzema lead Real Madrid's attacking display

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Modric was the main man.

A valiant Al Ain side were eventually overpowered by the might of Real Madrid in the Club World Cup final.

Goals from Luka Modric, Marcos Llorente and Sergio Ramos plus a Yahia Nader own goal saw the Champions League holders cruise to a 4-1 win at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi with Tsukasa Shiotani pulling a goal back for the UAE champions.

Here are our Madrid talking points.

LINK-UP PLAY

Luka Modric

Madrid were always expected to be the dominant force in this encounter but given their goal drought under Julen Lopetegui earlier in the season which lasted over eight hours of football, their play in the final third would still have been a source of encouragement for Santiago Solari.

Integral to their chance creation was the duo of Benzema and Modric. Both players patrolled the width of the pitch and were always involved in the final third, combining well to break the deadlock when the Ballon d’Or winner curled a sublime effort past Khalid Essa.

Modric reciprocated by creating a glorious opportunity for the Frenchman in the second half but the striker’s shot after the pair exchanged a one-two inside the area was saved by Essa.

Benzema’s finishing was suspect throughout the match but there’s no doubting his influence in Madrid’s play with the fluid interplay of wingers Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale also compounding Al Ain’s problems.

LLORENTE MAKING HIS MARC

Marcos Llorente

Casemiro has been one of the first names on Madrid’s team sheet in recent years, anchoring their midfield expertly. However, in his absence this term Llorente has impressed in the position.

Even though the Brazilian return as a substitute in the semi-final against Kashima Antlers, the Spanish midfielder retained his starting berth on Saturday – but for how long?

Llorente might’ve felt it necessary to leave a mark on the final and certainly did so, scoring his first ever goal for Los Blancos. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill goal, either. The ball fell perfectly for the midfielder outside the area after Kroos’ corner was cleared and he met it with a right-footed attempted which screamed textbook technique.

Despite Madrid’s control over the game, they only had a slender one-goal advantage to show for their efforts before Llorente’s 62nd minute strike.

It was the perfect way to cap another fine display at the heart of Madrid’s midfield where his work rate and reading of the game afforded the likes of Modric the security to push forward. He deservedly picked up the man of the match award.

GRADE: A

They were always favourites and played like it. Despite dominating proceedings and creating chances, it took some time before they were able to pull away from Al Ain and post an insurmountable lead. Crucially though, they never tried to force the issue.

There was nothing desperate about their play. It was always composed and measured. Eventually, the goals came. Credit to them for respecting their opponents and keeping their foot on the gas as well.

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FC Porto loanee Quintero adds creative spark in River Plate's 4-0 CWC win

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A 4-0 victory over Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup third place play-off flattered River Plate.

Bruno Zuculini opened the scoring from a corner in the 24th minute before Rafael Santos Borre’s penalty in the second half was sandwiched by two Gonzalo Martinez strikes in his final game for the club.

Juan Quintero was brought on for Exequiel Palacios at half-time and the Colombian made an impact in the final third.

Here’s our analysis of his performance.

GOOD

Creativity

Quintero’s excellent vision came into play after his introduction in the second half. As spaces began to appear in Kashima’s defence, the 25-year-old was well-equipped to exploit little pockets and feed passes into the front two.

He created the chance for the second goal with an excellent ball into the feet of Alvarez but also crossed well just before that after plucking the ball out of the air elegantly.

Attacking positions

As Kashima began to push forward and chase the game, Quintero was the main man for River in the transition.

He took up great positions, drifting out to the right, making himself available for the out-ball before coming back onto his stronger left side to play threatening passes.

BAD

Work rate

The FC Porto loanee was notably struggling towards the end of the half. He seemed to run out of steam rather quickly despite not contributing much to the defence. He only really came to life when his side were on the front foot.

KEY MOMENTS

50th minute: FREE-KICK – Ignacio Fernandez wins a free-kick on the edge of the box but Quintero’s effort doesn’t get enough elevation and strikes the wall.

60th minute: DRIBBLE – With the ball played into him on the edge of box from Nicolas De La Cruz, he evaded his man with a clever touch with his instep before beating another inside the box but a couple of ricochets sees it get away from him.

73rd minute: KEY PASS – Quintero controlled the ball with a superb touch and made a yard for himself to drill a low cross in that found Alvarez who rolled it into the onrushing Gonzalo Martinez to slot away.

VERDICT

His class was evident and some of his touches were a joy to watch. His parent club though wouldn’t have been too impressed by the distance he covered in the second half.

There were occasions in attack as well when he wasn’t quick enough to get up the pitch in support. That said, he certainly added a creative edge to River Plate on the break.

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Kashima Antlers 0-4 River Plate: Martinez signs off in style at CWC

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A 4-0 victory over Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup third place play-off flattered River Plate.

The Argentines were dominant in possession but their Asian counterparts always provided a goal threat in what was a well contested tie at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Bruno Zuculini opened the scoring from a corner in the 24th minute before Rafael Santos Borre’s penalty in the second half was sandwiched by two Gonzalo Martinez strikes in his final game for the club.

Yasushi Endo’s corner early on saw Jung Seung-Hyun’s shot at the far post saved incredibly on the line by German Lux after Tomoya Inukai flicked header.

Kashima were forced to switch keepers when Kwon Sun-tae was unable to shake off a knock. Hitoshi Sogahata replaced him between the sticks in the 24th minute and his first order of business was to pick the ball out of the net.

Nicolas De La Cruz’s delivery from a corner was met by a towering header from Zuculini, leaving the substitute keeper with no chance as the ball crashed in off the far post.

Sogahata was in the action again, rushing off his line and saving well from a one-on-one with Alvarez.

Bruno Zuculini (r) opened the scoring.

Bruno Zuculini (r) opened the scoring.

Quintero’s drilled low cross found Alvarez in the box who rolled it into the path of the onrushing Martinez to slot away.

Kashima squandered several opportunities. Doi volleyed Hiroki Abe’s cross over before striking the cross bar a couple of minutes later. Ryota Nagaki also left the bar rattling with a late free-kick.

Borre then drew a foul inside the box and stepped up to convert the penalty, making it 3-0 in the 90th minute.

There was more gloss to be applied on the scoreline though and Martinez provided it with his second. The MLS-bound player signed off with a delicious chip from outside the area to end a superb evening for River Plate.

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