It wasn’t a pretty match, but it wasn’t entirely that surprising. Zidane chose a heavily rotated starting XI full of players who played competitively together for the first time. Tejero, Franchu and Oscar were the only representatives of Castilla in the starting lineup.
However, if you wanted, you could observe some positives from the match. For me, the most important was Bale’s return. While he didn’t start, he took the field in the second half and was the main catalyst of Real Madrid’s attack.
Keylor Navas: 6 - This was Keylor’s first game after the injury and it did show. He wasn’t the usual reliable keeper with amazing reflexes. He was simply rusty and it’s logical. I’m sure that with more minutes played, he will be back to his top form.
Achraf Hakimi: 6 - Ever since Achraf broke into the first team, Madrid fans engaged in a colossal hyping up of this talented kid. Yes, he is very promising, but he isn’t a seasoned veteran like e.g. Dani Carvajal. There are growing pains and fans shouldn’t be surprised. Yesterday, his touches were heavy and a lot of his crosses failed to found its target. However, when Bale came on, he created more space for Achraf and he slightly improved.
Nacho: 6 - Nacho, who was the most senior player out there, carried the captain’s armband. He was tasked with organising this diverse group of youngsters and it can’t be said that he did a splendid job. It was a tough task, but Nacho wasn’t the usual calming presence.
Alvaro Tejero: 5.5 - I still don’t understand why Zidane keeps choosing and playing Tejero a full-back, more so as a center-back. Tejero, a natural full-back, isn’t even the best full-back in Castilla. But apparently, he might be being chosen, because he is the senior player at Castilla. Nevertheless, when you have a fantastic Manu Hernando on the bench, you start him.
Theo: 5.5 - Theo is a bit puzzling. I think we all can remember his brilliant performances at Alaves, but so far he failed to replicate them in the white shirt. Yesterday, he was subpar. His touches were heavy, he wasn’t solid defensively and failed to sufficiently support the attack. Despite all of that, I would urge all of you to have patience with him. He is extremely young and it takes quite a lot of time to settle in Madrid. It took Marcelo a lot of time to become who he is now. Let’s not forget that..
Marcos Llorente 6: Marcos was a bit uninspiring. He was tidy in possession, but he didn’t exert his influence over the match. He lacks game time and let’s hope that in coming weeks he will play more. There certainly will be more games to be played (Copa del Rey, Club World Cup).
Mateo Kovacic - 6: Mateo occasionally showed flashes of the dribbles and runs that we love so much. It was encouraging watching him on the field and we can only hope for more.
Dani Ceballos 6.5: Dani, Mateo and Marcos was my preferred midfield trio, so I was happy with the selection. I wanted for these guys to get some minutes under the belt, which is what we got. Dani was arguably the better of the three, but not by much. He passing and dynamism in the final third is something that Zidane has to fully exploit.
Oscar 6: A timid performance from the canterano, who was placed on the left wing. He is no winger. He is an out and out central midfielder and it was obvious how uncomfortable he was in that position. Therefore, it came as no surprise that he felt short of expectations.
Franchu - 6.5: This little Argentinian dynamo was the best of the Castilla players out there. He was a constant threat in the final third and tried to combine with Borja Mayoral. He had a decent shot in the first half, but ultimately he was unable to create something concrete.
Borja Mayoral - 7.5: A striker need good supporting cast. It was so obvious when one of our best players came on, Borja scored two decisive goals. And both were created by Gareth Bale. These two goals are huge for Borja’s confidence and it might convince Zidane to play him more in the league.
Gareth Bale - 8: The Welsh dragon is back with a bang. Two beautiful plays created by Bale resulted in two goals. Let’s all admire this gorgeous cross for the first goal.
Man of the Match: Gareth Bale