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Mariano Diaz was given a start with Karim Benzema missing due to an ankle discomfort. The Dominican has always been used as a backup to the Frenchman by Zidane, who continuously overlooked Luka Jovic. The manager’s choices are starting to make sense, even though Mariano was not a goal-scorer on this occasion.

Madrid’s leading attacker on Saturday had two goals chalked off for offside, but besides that, he was a relenting presence with his contributions. Mariano pressed the defenders into making mistakes and showed great desire to get into the thick of the battle. Jovic missed such a killer instinct and has slowed down at Frankfurt too after a brisk start.

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Thibaut Courtois was made to work his way to his 11th clean sheet of La Liga this season and 15th in all competitions. The Belgian was absolutely brilliant at the back for the Whites, who would have conceded three or four goals if it were not for him. In the first ten minutes itself, Courtois was forced into making three saves from close range.

His biggest moment though came in the second half. An attempted cross-field ball from Ferland Mendy was straight into Sergi Guardiola’s path, whose shot was saved by Courtois from point blank range. The 28-year-old once again proved that Real Madrid can rely on him and that he is one of the best in the business.

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