Real Madrid beat Melilla 6 - 1 (Asensio x2, Javi Sanchez, Isco x2, Vinicius Jr) at the Bernabeu. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
Real Madrid cruised in the second leg of the Copa del Rey round-of-16, more than doubling their aggregate score from the first leg, and giving plenty of youth players some time on the pitch in the process.
The biggest surprise start in this match was Dani Carvajal, who started as the team’s left-back in the absence of Marcelo and Sergio Reguilon. Fran Garcia, Castilla’s left-back, was on the bench, so Solari may have figured he could continue to give Carvajal some match fitness before bringing on Fran in the second half. That’s exactly what happened, as Carvajal, who had a scary crash-landing into the post in the first half, came off at half-time.
Quick note about Fran Garcia: he’s been an important part of Castilla’s good run this season. He needs to improve on his passing, overall, but has a good feel defensively and does join the attack regularly or win the ball high up the pitch when possible.
This match was all about keeping an eye on youth players, particularly ones we don’t see often: Vinicius Jr, Fede Valverde, Jesus Vallejo, and Javi Sanchez. Vinicius was a mixed bag, to be sure. He attempted a lot of step-overs and flicks without really unnerving his defenders, and missed three really good opportunities when he was through on goal. But, he scored off his own rebound in the second half, and did tremendous work in the build-up to Asensio’s second goal:
Fede Valverde had some heavy touches in this one, but overall looked really good. He plays really quick and direct — looking to get the ball out of his feet in as little touches as possible. Javi Sanchez, meanwhile, read the game well with step-in interventions (a trait he displayed really well in the first leg of this fixture), and scored a goal — a nice finish after finding himself unmarked on an Asensio assist:
La Passe d'Asensio et le But de Javi Sanchez ! pic.twitter.com/HNatRse4gO— Real Madrid - France (@FrenchRMCF) December 6, 2018
Javi did give away a penalty in the second half to give Melilla their only goal over the two legs. Promising from him overall.
Marcos Llorente was outstanding in the first half. We don’t have official stats for these Copa del Rey games, but he had a couple nice tackles which started counters in the first half, and his distribution and dribbling were really good.
A caveat for all these notes: they only mean so much. Melilla were awful. Even for what we expected of them, they just didn’t defend, at all. Asensio’s first goal was beautiful, but he wasn’t running at much:
In the second half, Solari gave first-team debuts to Fran Garcia and Fidalgo. We also saw Ceballos come on for Llorente. En route to the 6 - 1, Isco scored a brace — his first being a thing of beauty:
Isco just scored this. Probably the best goal I have seen since Maradona 86' pic.twitter.com/8xSN5Crcmp— the God of small things (@iscobaar) December 6, 2018
We’ll break this down in more detail on tonight’s Patron podcast.