Two days after the defeat against FC Barcelona in Saturday's Clásico, Real Madrid earned a comfortable 0-2 win against Ponferradina.
Considering Real Madrid's recent history against lesser teams in the Copa del Rey, getting a win and almost putting an end to this phase of the Cup is a good result for Mourinho's team, which will be on the road to play Sevilla next Saturday.
Mourinho decided to give many starters some rest and play with a 4-2-3-1 formation formed by Adán, Altintop, Varane, Albiol, Marcelo, Sahin, Khedira, Callejón, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Higuaín. While Alonso, Di María, Özil, Benzema and so on were allowed to rest, Callejón was Madrid's highlighted player.
The former Espanyol and Real Madrid Castilla player showed how wrong Pedro León had been by not accepting his secondary role with Real Madrid. Every time Callejón has the chance to play, he delivers goals and intensity in his defensive efforts. While he might not be ready to start in big games--especially when Di María and Özil are in such good shape--it is always good for a coach to have this kind of player in his roster.
It was the 29th minute when Callejón pushed the ball into the net after a good headed pass. The Spanish winger had a good chance to score some minutes earlier, but decided to pass the ball to Cristiano, who couldn't make it there fast enough. This was Callejón's way of recovering and gaining some confidence again after the missed opportunity.
Madridistas were expecting a big game from Nuri Sahin, but it was Khedira, the midfielder, that completed a very good game overall. He stopped many of Ponferradina's transitions and even delivered a good assist to Cristiano Ronaldo in the second half, which was disallowed (wrongly) by the referee, who thought the Portuguese player was offside.
The first half ended with the feeling that Real Madrid was trying to sleep away the game to prevent injuries and exhaustion.
In the 69th minute Raul Albiol was sent off with two yellow cards. The Spanish center back ended what had been a terrible game for him. The young Varane has confirmed his position as a bench defender, especially since Carvalho is still out. The French player is fast, focused, and knows who he needs to give the ball to in every play. Mourinho said yesterday that he is going to be a starting center back for this team for a very long time, and the coach is not wrong about this.
Ramos, Granero and Jesé were the players who joined the game for Kaká, Sahin and Ronaldo. Before getting subbed, the Portuguese franchise player scored the second goal of the game, sending the scoring ghosts away. He needs to be ready for this Saturday, so Mourinho acted wisely by sending him to the bench and giving Jesé some minutes.
The Castilla player reminds me a lot of Cristiano Ronaldo in every gesture and action he has with the ball. At age 18, he has a lot of time to improve, but he can certainly be an important player for Madrid in the future.
The game concluded with a very enthusiastic crowd cheering for Ponferradina to score, but Madrid's defense could prevent them from doing so. They will play the team again at the Bernabeu next Tuesday before going into vacation mode.
But first, Mourinho and his guys have the difficult mission of getting three points in Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán against Sevilla in what will be one of Madrid's most difficult games thus far.