I’m not entirely sure what just happened, but here are some jumbled notes I managed to take amid this absolute gong show.
This is on Zidane
First and foremost. Ten years from now, no one will remember whether Real Madrid won the Club World Championship or not, but letting a six-point cushion slip and losing the La Liga title would be unforgiving and etched in history - and our minds.
There is plenty of time to rest after Real Madrid travel to Japan. The winter break will ensue, and the team has ample time to recoup, which renders the decision to omit - not just rest, but completely omit from a possible summoning off the bench - really difficult to side with.
*Of course, the team didn’t drop any points, but I wasn’t aware of that until Sergio Ramos morphed into a Super Saiyan again. Like a wolf during a full moon, Ramos appears when the clock hits 90.
Is this real life. Sergio what on earth are you. You're a fucking unicorn.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) December 10, 2016
There are obvious culprits on the pitch too (see: Ramos, Casemiro), but their faults come secondary, and neither of those two have control over squad selection nor should be put in a position where their mistakes would cost the team.
Luckily, Zidane’s subs were perfect. He rolled the dice, brought on a direct Lucas Vasquez, a hungry Mariano, shifted to a back-three, and brought Marcelo on to save the day on the left wing.
And hey, at least we were provided with a heart-wrenching final ten minutes.
Lots of chatter pre-game - myself included - about how fun a potential Isco-James-Asensio trio might be. Throw Morata into the mix, and it looks golden. But the charm quickly wore off, and it was to the fault of none of those aforementioned players. To be sure, Asensio had some brilliant touches throughout and Isco was mazy with his runs.
But for a team that has three ingenious players known for their flair and ability to create from multiple channels, there simply wasn’t enough presence going down the throat of Deportivo’s defense. Going down the flanks isn’t something unique to just this match, of course, but there was a pocket in front of Kroos that needed to be filled. This improved a bit in the second half, but the attack needed some diversity which didn’t arrive until the substitutions were made.
Mid-way through the first half, I was about to tweet out how this was clearly Casemiro’s best half of the season. Seriously, he was everywhere. Arrived in key moments to snuff out attacks, and his passing was actually quite good. Then, timely enough, he passed the ball away un-pressured. Fast forward to the 2nd half, and Casemiro stole the ball brilliantly, only to clumsily lose it again and cost Real Madrid a goal. That moment is the perfect embodiment of who he is. Brilliant and not.