Fans were given a show at the Santiago Bernabeu as a second-tier Real Madrid cruised to a 6-1 victory over UD Melilla in their second-leg match.
Melilla came to the Spanish capital already down 0-4 on aggregate and was focused on gaining a foothold early on. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough.
Besides a few regulars, the majority of the players in Madrid’s starting XI usually sit on the bench, or don’t necessarily get any playing time at all, but they all pulled their weight and successfully moved onto the next round.
Leadership from veteran players
Isco and Marco Asensio both have experience playing in the first team and demonstrated quality playing abilities and proper game mentality to help guide the team to victory.
The midfielder wore the captain’s armband for the match and was one of the standouts on the pitch despite sometimes being deemed unsuitable for head coach Santiago Solari. The No. 22 stepped up his game and showed both the coach and fans otherwise.
Isco was routinely looking to create attacking plays out of nothing and tried to encourage more momentum from the team. His tight footwork throughout the midfield helped Madrid have a more creative attack upfront while maintaining 59 per cent possession.
In addition to Isco’s midfield leadership, he also was able to get his name on the scoresheet twice, once in the 47th minute and again in the 83rd.
Asensio was another veteran player who also took it upon himself to try and guide the team towards a breakthrough and was successful in doing so.
He routinely attempted assists for Mariano Diaz and Vinicius Jr. up front and eventually opened of the scoring in the 30th minute with a goal of his own. Moments later, he took it upon himself again to double the teams lead.
The Spaniard used his fluid motion to position himself in open spaces and while the poor defending from Melilla certainly helped him out, Asensio demonstrated that he can become a decisive player for the team when needed.
The Dominican striker who transferred back to Madrid from a term at Olympique Lyon has yet to settle into form for Los Blancos as he only has one goal over 357 minutes this season.
In the match against Melilla, his skills continued to be unconvincing. Right from the start, Diaz was putting heavy touches on the ball and giving up gifted opportunities on the ground while routinely missing headers in the air.
Isco, Asensio and Vinicius Jr. all worked hard up front to try and get the No. 7 to put the ball in the back of the net but he either seemed a second behind the play or completely unaware of it at all.
Since being gifted the heavy-weighted jersey, Diaz has lacked in performance and has a lot to work on if he wants to play more regularly with the first team in LaLiga or the UEFA Champions League.
Once settled, dynamic defence was in full affect
The first 30 minutes of the match gave the hosts a few scares as Melilla came out strong almost taking the lead three or four times due to some shaky defending.
Once the team settled down, the defenders worked well along the back line and covered all their defensive grounds. Some even made attacking moves when necessary which added to the team’s overall performance.
Youngster Alvaro Odriozola operated at full speed and was key for the team going forward. The No. 19 put in cross after cross for the team and really helped the game flow down the right-hand side.
Centre-backs Jesus Vallejo and Javi Sanchez were also two standout defensive players who properly positioned their skills in front of Keylor Navas’ net. The latter was even able to score a goal in the 39th minute however he also gave up the penalty which lead to Melilla’s only goal.
Solari’s decision to rest the first team players gave this starting XI the opportunity to show their skills which were rightfully enough to affirm the big win and he said he was pleased with their performance in the post-match interview.
Other notable players from the match were Marcos Llorente, who continued his good form from the 2-0 win over Valencia and Vinicius Jr. who continues to be one of the hardest working players on the team.
Solari is really developing the youthful players on this team and making sure they are pulling their weight on the pitch in every game they play. Going forward, the head coach will have tons of options to switch up the lineup in the future if he so desires.
With the win, Real Madrid now moves on to the round-of-16 and will find out their next opponents after the draw on December 13, 2018.