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Immediate Reaction: Leganes 2 - 4 Real Madrid

Morata’s hat-trick and Asensio’s brilliance give Real Madrid three points

CD Leganes v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid took care of business at Butarque today, even without several key players who were being rested ahead of the Derbi. Goals from James, and Morata (x3), were enough to overcome a wave of attacks in the first half which resulted in two goals from Leganes — Gabriel and Neves the goal scorers respectively.

Real Madrid went into Butarque tonight without seven regular starters and came out with a relatively comfortable win, because, well — Zidane’s squad depth is insane. Even without the regular gunslingers up front, as well as the engines in the middle, the game went as expected — a fun offensive line led by Asensio, Morata, and James over-thwarted Leganes taking advantage of defensive lapses and a short wave in the first half where Real Madrid conceded two in goals in three minutes.

There were a lot of good things to pull from this game, even if there was some bad too. To start: Marco Asensio continues to impress in the limited and sporadic minutes Zidane sprinkles him with. His presence on the left flank is really promising, and like his match at the Sanchez Pizjuan earlier this season, Asensio had some good burn on that wing — the most impressive being his run in the first half the saw him skin Leganes mercilessly before pulling it back to a wide-open James in front of the net.

It’s refreshing to see the lack of playing time hasn’t tempered Asensio’s rhythm, which tends to happen to players who are cut from the rotation in a top-heavy depth chart. It speaks a lot about the head on his young shoulders. Kovacic is in a similar situation. With Mateo playing so well in so many different looks this season, it’s puzzling we haven’t seen him since the Las Palmas debacle. Kova’s flow in this game wasn’t as smooth as Marco’s, but he did pick the ball up well overall, and his assist on Morata’s 2nd goal was other-worldly good. By the end of the night, he racked up 62/67 passes completed, on top of his assist and chance created.

Casemiro, on the other hand, missed the mark several times bringing the ball out of the back, and struggled to find outlets (the absence of Modric AND Kroos was a huge factor here), more than Kovacic did — misplacing 13 passes by the end of the game including a bad giveaway that nearly led to a goal in the second half.

It should be noted that although Real Madrid picked up a vital three points, there was concern regarding the defense on the right flank, where Lucas Vazquez -- who had his worst defensive game in recent memory — and Danilo couldn’t cover Rico’s surging runs on the wing, which was the deep root of the problem of conceding those two goals during a tumultuous wave in the first half. On the 2nd goal, Keylor Navas was left to himself to fend off a close range shot from Nieves, who one of Nacho or Casemiro should’ve been marking.

This, by the way, is actually really impressive:

Coming up: player ratings, match review, and post-game podcast.

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