As the main man Mr Kiyan Sobhani is currently high in the sky at 30,000 feet, I have been authorised to take over the reins for the first Real Madrid game of 2018! The team travelled to Numancia for the first leg of the round of 16. The thinking behind the decision to promote me to the big leagues was similar to last time... Madrid were facing opposition from the lower divisions, and it was very likely that there would be call-ups from the Castilla squad. It turns out that only Tejero would make the cut. No matter, as it is both the first game of the year, and the first leg of this tie, and an exact repeat of the last round (the shaky 4-2 aggregate win against Fuenlabrada) could only add flames to the ever growing pressure fire looming over Zidane’s shiny scalp.
As usual, I jotted down some notes from both halves:
- The game was predictably slow, and you could easily mistake these Madrid players for 11 men who haven’t played together before...
- Numancia were understandably comfortable to stay compact and soak up any pressure, but they still had one or two moments going forwards to keep Madrid on their toe’s.
- A few of the players had a poor first half, notably Theo and Marcos for me. I’m yet to be impressed by Llorente for the first team,(Although my Castilla duties ensure that I can’t watch as often as I’d like) which is disappointing as he is a player that I know for a fact is of very high quality.
- The penalty was indeed a penalty, as Lucas was clearly tripped. Bale played the keeper with ease, sending him the wrong way before the ball was even kicked and slotting home in the opposite side of the net.
- A few decent flicks from the likes of Bale, Ceballos and Asensio were the best moments on show in a pretty dull half.
- Numancia added plenty of eyebrow raisers to the skill-show, making the Real Madrid players look silly a surprisingly often amount of time.
- Believe it or not, that was only the second penalty Gareth Bale has ever taken for Real Madrid... And his first since 2015. He has scored both.
- Marcos has had a better second half to be fair on him, he has had to drop much deeper since Madrid took the lead, and break up a lot of the hosts play.
- The referee has been decent tonight, despite the hostile crowd. His only blooper was perhaps a penalty shout from Numancia. Besides that, he’s called a lot of difficult decisions correctly.
- Numancia went down to 10 men 60 minutes in, but not that much actually changed. They even hit the bar from a speculative long ranged effort!
- Lucas Vázquez may have taken down Kiyan’s plane with that skied effort... Updates in as I have them.
- I’m not sure the second penalty was so legit. A bit of contact, but Lucas is down before anyone can blink. Isco takes it very well, however.
- Very good ball from Achraf Hakimi, and a great header from Borja Mayoral to make it 3! Harsh on Numancia, but this goal was the best Madrid could muster up today.
Convincing is perhaps not the word I would use to describe this victory, but after a gritty game, Real Madrid come out on top to win their first game of the year! Madrid will want to turn it up a gear if they have any real aspirations in this competition, but it is still early doors, and they are getting the job done. The second leg squad should hopefully contain a few more Castilla players. As always, it has been my pleasure! Until next time...
Goals: Bale, Isco, Mayoral