Normally I'd fire up Paint and do a film review, but since Tuesday's match was a meaningless Copa tie, I couldn't find any replays with decent video quality. So instead of sacrificing my artistic integrity even more, I'm sticking to words this time.
1. No youngsters are ready for regular first team minutes.
This was the most we'd seen of the youngsters from La Fábrica yet. Given Pacheco didn't face a single shot on goal, it's hard to say how he did. Diego Llorente came on for Varane at the half, he too, didn't have many issues to deal with. The game was long over by the time Javier Muñoz came on.
Medrán, on the other hand, showed flashes, which is the most you can ask of him. At times he looked very comfortable in possession, but his assignment seemed to be "Get the ball to Isco." None of the youngsters stood out as ready for the first team, so it's back to being patient as they develop.
2. Jesé is still Jesé.
The primary fear when a player tears a knee ligament is loss of agility and explosion. Thankfully, it didn't look like Jesé lost even a little of either. He's not fit enough to play a full 90 minutes, he made a few mental positioning errors, and his touch was sloppy at times.
These are to be expected for a guy who hasn't played a match in eight months, and will go away with time. He's still superhumanly talented, he can still beat his man with just one step, and he's still clinical in on goal. It's clear he wasn't rushed back, and the more he plays, the better he'll get. You can't help but feel happy for him.
3. Illarra's strength is in defense.
Maybe we learned this years ago, but Asier Illarramendi is truly a defensive midfielder. At times it looked like Ancelotti played a 4-1-2-3 with Illarra hanging out with Varane and Nacho in defense most of the time.
After being heralded as Xabi's replacement, it appears Illarra will be mostly a defensive stalwart and distributor. And he's fantastic in this role, but unfortunately, Ancelotti's preferred system doesn't call for this sort of player.
4. James is truly a do-it-all player.
How many other players can track back, dig a ball out of his own third, only to score a ripper from outside the box seconds later? James' propensity to do the dirty work in midfield has been massive this season, and he's really in top form.
5. Khedira and Coentrão are on their way back.
There's a pretty good chance Sami Khedira played a few minutes with a full-on concussion yesterday, but before taking a knock he looked his usual self -- an absolute pain to opposing midfielders, and calculated passer into the opponent's third. Meanwhile, Fábio Coentrão (who I think I saw smile for the first time ever yesterday) already looks match fit and well on his way back to form. There's no doubt Coentrão has a better chance to get minutes, but both he and Khedira look fine coming off their injuries.
6. It's time to start paying close attention to minutes played.
Ancelotti's known for being able to keep his stars both in-form and fresh, and it's a little concerning how little rest James and Kroos have been given. With an increasingly deep squad (Jesé, Khedira, Coentrão, and Illarra all healthy again), there's no reason to stretch these guys so thin.
From the moment I saw Chicharito kick the ball directly into his face, and then the net for United a few seasons ago, I knew I liked this guy. His goofy smile matches his carefree style of playing, and I just can't help but laugh when i see him play.
Right now, Benzema's form is lucrative, and he should start every game, no questions asked. But after he was seemingly perpetually banged up last spring, I'd love to see Chicharito get more minutes in the second half of games going forward.
What stuck out to you? Feel free to mention it in the comments!