It was a disappointing night for Real Madrid players and fans alike as Los Blancos crashed out of the Spanish Cup. Real’s comeback fell just a goal short on the road, and now Madrid remain in just two competitions. Real Madrid have now won just one out of their last five matches, and appear to be trending downward. Injuries plagued the team, and so it was anyone’s guess as to what lineup Zidane would put out.
✅ #RMCopa— Real Madrid C. F. (@realmadrid) January 24, 2017
Estos son los 19 convocados para el partido de Copa contra el @rccelta_oficial. #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/gBG0VmGIhK
Ultimately the Frenchman opted for an attack-minded version of the 3-5-2, that played many players out of position. Celta Vigo took advantage of this and were able to score just enough to hold off a Real Madrid Remontada led by a Ronaldo free kick, and a late Vazquez header. Celta Vigo outplayed Madrid in both legs and deservedly went through in this tie.
Kiko Casilla: 7
One of the few bright spots of the match for Real Madrid. Was not at fault for either goal, as they were both on the defense. He Performed with confidence in goal, and did well coming off his line in the 18th minute to stop a dangerous attack by Celta. Almost always class when called upon, Casilla continues to be a reliable deputy to Keylor Navas.
I’ve long been a supporter of Danilo, but I can no longer excuse his poor performances. While he should not be full blamed for the own goal, he should be blamed for his slow reaction to track back prior to the disastrous deflection. He occasionally linked up well with teammates, but he still doesn’t look quite right on the pitch. His first touch is often poor, which is generally a sign of a lack of confidence. It is hard to envision the Brazilian staying at the Bernabeu for another season given his lack of fan support, disappointing performances, and the young talent currently coming through the youth academy.
Sergio Ramos: 6
Not the Spaniard’s best performance by any means. Ramos chased balls into the corner, and pushed forward often, but his efforts resulted in nothing. Should’ve equalized in the 67th minute when his header went just wide, but unluckily missed a goal he scores on a consistent basis. While he wasn’t rock solid in defense, he was the only one of himself, Casemiro, or Nacho to look comfortable in a 3-man backline.
Nacho was one mistake away from a strong performance. Unfortunately, his extremely weak attempt at a tackle put Celta through on goal, and led to Danilo’s own goal. At times he looked out of place in the 3-man backline, but did what he has done all season: Filling in for injured teammates. Outside of this mistake, Nacho played well, and was not at fault for Celta’s second goal.
Maybe the Brazilian’s worst performances of the season. Zidane asked Casemiro to play in a Libero role; a notoriously difficult position to play. It requires a defender to be an excellent distributor, which as we are all well aware, is not Casemiro’s strength. He looked out of sorts on multiple occasions, and never should’ve started there in the first place. His worst mistake was unquestionably his giveaway to Aspas right in front of goal, that somehow the Spaniard didn’t bury. Los Blancos would have been much better off with him in midfield.
Marco Asensio: 5.5
It’s hard to truly blame Marco Asensio for his below average performance when he was played so out of position. It still makes little sense as to why Zidane played the 21 year old as a wing back. As just about everyone expected, Asensio looked like a fish out of water. He couldn’t get into the attacking third to help the offense because of the work rate a wingback must have. He did, however, make two great runs that were wasted by Ronaldo.
Toni Kroos: 6
Another steady, consistent performance from the German. Toni Kroos passed the ball as accurately, and as efficiently as one would expect from him. Due to Casemiro being placed on the backline, Kroos was forced into a deeper role, and took on Casemiro’s responsibilities.
Anyone else notice how Kroos is basically positioned as a defender when we distribute out from the back?— O.Dembélé fanboy (@OmVArvind) January 25, 2017
Because he had to consistently drop deep to facilitate play, Kroos was unable to influence the attack as much as he would’ve liked.
One could argue that only Kiko Casilla performed better than Mateo Kovacic. The Croatian played extremely well in his box-to-box role, showing immense energy on multiple occasions. His lung-busting runs up the field showed off his elite ball-carrying ability. Even when Real Madrid looks uninspired in midfield, Kovacic can pull a run from midfield like a rabbit out of his hat. Always a ball of energy, it’s not hard to see why Kovacic is referred to as the heir to Modric’s spot in Real Madrid’s midfield.
Failed to exert much influence on the game. Isco was able to roam often in a very fluid formation, yet struggled to make a huge impact. There were parts of the match where he was very energetic and active, and others where you barely knew he was on the pitch. Modric’s midfield play-making ability was sorely missed today, as Isco simply could not replicate it.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 6
Outside of his brilliant free kick goal, Ronaldo was very poor. CR7 was often isolated in attack, and whether or not this was due to Zidane’s formation, an injury, or a lack of work rate, the Portuguese was hardly involved. After missing a sitter in the first half, Ronaldo then went on to kill at least 2 attacking moves created by teammates. He scored a massive goal in the tie, but that doesn’t make up for the rest of a match that the talisman would love to forget.
Karim Benzema: 5
With Kova and Kroos often dropping so deep, Benz has done really well to keep the link from midfield to attack.— O.Dembélé fanboy (@OmVArvind) January 25, 2017
As Om points out in his tweet, our midfield dropped back to assist in facilitating from deep. Because of this, Benzema had to link up with the midfield quite often. Benzema did this very well in the first half, but in the second, the Frenchman played poorly, and faded as the match went on. He should’ve been replaced at some point, but Zidane surprisingly left him in for the entire 90 minutes. While Benzema’s spot in the first team is still undisputed at the moment, he has been disappointing for large stretches of this season, and must improve as a daunting Champions League tie with Napoli quickly approaches.
(Substitute) Lucas Vazquez: 7
Came on for Marco Asensio in the 76th minute and scored a goal right before stoppage time to give Real Madrid hope. Zidane’s decision to start Danilo over Vazquez on the right is baffling.
(Substitute) Alvaro Morata: 6
Replaced Isco after 80 minutes, but really should have come on for Benzema earlier in the match. Morata tested the Goalkeeper a few times, but lacked end product.
(Substitute) Mariano: N/A
Came on in the 89th minute, but was subbed on too late to make any real impact on the match.
Man of the Match: