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Instant Reactions: Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao (4-2)

Los Blancos earn a comfortable win.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

It was fairly easy to predict a victory for Real Madrid. They've been in great form at the Bernabéu ever since Zidane took over and Athletic were missing some important players in San José and Williams. Zidane decided to start Danilo and Kovacic with Marcelo and Bale still out of the team, but Danilo finally played in the right side of the defensive line with Carvajal on the left, something most pundits did not expect.

Real Madrid performed well enough but Athletic still had their chances during the first half after scoring the equalizer.

  1. Mateo Kovacic deserves more playing time. Kroos and Modric are in good form but Kovacic is too good to play every once in a while. Not only he has the creativity, speed and skills to produce in offense, his defensive contribution and work rate is equally as impressive. He is still 21 years old but Kovacic is not a prospect. He already is a very good player and one that can contribute regularly. His control of the midfield today was exceptional.
  2. Carvajal can replace Marcelo on the left flank. Sure, Madrid will miss Marcelo anyway because the Brazilian left-back is arguably the world's greatest there, but Carvajal proved to be good enough to replace him while he's injured, and that's precisely what Zidane might do.
  3. Danilo needs to improve defensively. He struggled during the first half while looking fairly well on offense. However, if he wants to have a shot at the spot when Marcelo recovers from his injury, Danilo will have to step his defense up and at least stay with his man, something he did not do against Bilbao.

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