With a 4-0 aggregate score-line from the away game, Real Madrid were sure to enjoy a comfortable evening at the Santiago Bernabéu for the return leg. Melilla were still top of their group in Segunda B, but even a full team of Castilla players would struggle to throw away this lead. Speaking of - six Castilla players, including Vinícius Júnior, got the call up for this one. Whether that was sufficient enough for such an occasion is down to opinion, but it was good to see Javier Sánchez and Vinícius get the nod from the start. Real Madrid went on to win the game 6-1, and my player ratings from the game are as so:
Keylor Navas — 8: Although he didn’t have too much to juggle, he had more to do over the course of the game than you might expect. Conceded a goal via the penalty spot, but was pretty faultless with his performance. This could be a nice little reminder to Santiago Solari that he does still exist...
Dani Carvajal — 7: If there was one area I might pick on due to a lack of rotation from this game, it would probably be at right-back. Either of the Castilla right-backs would have been craving a spot even on the bench. Dani got the start though, and he of course handled himself more than competently with ease, getting the assist for the first goal. He came off for Fran García at half time.
Javier Sánchez — 8: Thought Javier was good enough to get a mention for man of the match today. After plenty of first team involvement during recent times, he got his first Real Madrid goal in the first half. The finish was delightful, as he met an Asensio cross with a volley that went in off the bar. He did give away the penalty that Melilla scored, and looked a bit open early on in the game, but this was still a really good showing from the Spaniard. The first half of the season has been huge for Javier, and he won’t be looking back after this.
Jesús Vallejo — 7: Dealt with everything that came his way without breaking much of a sweat. Wasn’t as loud with his performance as centre-back partner Javier Sánchez, but still put in a good shift. More matches is what the doctor orders for Vallejo, now...
Álvaro Odriozola — 7: Álvaro continues to impress. Got forwards very well during this game, providing an almost constant threat. Defensively at times he forgot about his duties against considerably weaker opposition, but under the circumstances he was able to get away with it.
Marcos Llorente — 6.5: It’s games galore for Marcos at the moment! Although he had some good moments, this was not his strongest game of late. Still held the midfield together well, and showed off some of that juicy passing range. Came off at half time for Dani Ceballos.
Fede Valverde — 7.5: An important start for Fede, and one that he relished, being in my opinion the teams best midfielder. Stood up very tall, looking strong in the tackle, and was all over the shop for Madrid. Hopefully this performance earns him a few more chances in the near future!
Isco — 7: This was Isco’s first start in a good while. Despite being quieter than you would expect, Isco still popped up with two delightful goals. The first one was something very special indeed. He also contributed with some very good footwork from time to time, but I still got a feeling he could have brought something more to the table.
Vinícius Júnior — 7.5: All you have to do with Vinícius is wind him up and watch him go. He will be a guaranteed nuisance for the opposition, and he certainly was today against Melilla. His runs are consistently frequent, and he will seemingly always find a way through no matter how many times his attempts may not work. Came away from the game with a goal and an assist, as well as some good highlight reels. It has to be said that he was really wasteful with a lot of big chances, but that isn’t something that he usually struggles with. Another bright game to add fuel to the fire!
Mariano Diaz — 5: A really disappointing match from Mariano. This is a man who is usually one of the first to show up for the party, no matter how long his cameo might be. This is a game that he’d usually be licking his lips over, before blowing the opposition away. In this game, he provided a couple of good moments, but on the whole did nothing of note. He couldn’t see out the game even though the team had used all of their substitutions, and went off in the second half with an injury.
Marco Asensio — 7.5: Two goals and an assist. Marco should be happy with that, and his display. His first goal was decent, as he worked his way into the space that the opposition were affording him, before curling home. Two minutes later he had his second via a tap-in, and four minutes after that he bagged an assist for Javier Sánchez. Played largely from the right hand side today and it seems as though this may be his preference.
Dani Ceballos — 6: Came on at half time, and managed to get an assist for Isco’s first goal. Didn’t look to active besides that but did make some good runs here and there.
Fran García: — 7: A reasonably surprising debut, as for Castilla Santiago Solari barely looked twice at Fran. The youngster did not disappoint though, impressing on the attack - and even recording his first Real Madrid assist for Isco’s second goal. This should hopefully see him reach consistent minutes for Castilla from now on.
Álvaro Fidalgo — 6: A really important debut, as Álvaro was one of the very few fruits of Solari’s Castilla labour. It was fitting that Santiago would be the one to hand Fidalgo his first appearance. Despite not making much of an impact, the sentiment behind the move was very appropriate.
So Real Madrid go through to the next round with a 10-1 win on aggregate. Both games were very enjoyable, but the next round will prove to be a step up as the majority of the teams left in the competition are from La Liga. Thanks very much for reading, and never be afraid to let me know your thoughts in the comments section!