A hot and humid night in Nanchong proved to be a less than thrilling encounter against a timid and anemic Inter side. There were still some interesting things to take away from this game.
- Danilo will be a key player this year. His performance tonight was solid on both sides of the pitch. Individually, he's a better defender than Carvajal, and offensively, he's quicker and possesses more flair. If there are doubters of his role in this team, rest assured he will start, and as the games pass by, you will understand why.
- Jese is back. Ancelotti battered his confidence when Jese came back from injury last season by preferring Chicharito over him. The performances that put him on the map a year prior seemed long gone, and Jese was mentally shaken, which is why it was so nice to see him perform well tonight. His confidence and decision-making were very good, and his composure on the opening goal was fantastic.
- Isco shows his greatness and weaknesses every game - in both extremes. He had some sublime touches tonight while showcasing his ability to free himself from tight spaces, but he goes out of his way in open play to hold on to the ball too long when a quick outlet pass to one of the wingers would be far more conducive. This is textbook stuff. The ball needs to flow on a counter.
- I love the fact that Ronaldo and Bale are given the freedom to roam under Benitez's tactical umbrella. It's a system that few defenses can cope with, it's a system that always keeps them guessing. It seems to be bringing out the best in both players.
- Cherysev. For those of you who didn't watch the match, you should get your hands on the second half to see how well Denis Cherysev is developing. His quick and direct football is a joy to watch. He's not a complicated player, but a very efficient and dangerous one.
- Great goal from James on his return. Benitez is spoiled with great free-kick takers who may never be able to hit one for obvious reasons.