The Copa Del Rey round of 16 has arrived, and the competition is increasingly like one that Real Madrid are going to have to take seriously this season. Leganés were the team to knock Real Madrid out of the cup around this time last year at the Bernabéu, so the team were going to have to be on their game. The visitors were without Real Madrid loanee Óscar Rodríguez who was not cleared to play. After all, we wouldn’t want Óscar making Solari look as bad as Solari made Óscar look for Castilla now, would we? Despite the away team still looking dangerous at times, los blancos showed their class, putting in a controlled performance to win the game 3-0. This was perhaps the best performance I have seen from Solari’s Real Madrid, bar the Melilla first leg. My player ratings from the game can be viewed below!
Keylor Navas — 8: A very rare start for Keylor as Courtois pulled out of the game last minute due to injury. Boy did he make it count. Chances didn’t fall to the visitors regularly, but over the course of the game they had more than enough opportunities to score. Keylor stayed alert and put in some top saves to earn his clean-sheet. Will this performance change anything?
Álvaro Odriozola — 8.5: The main candidate for the man of the match award for me. Was so quick to get up and down that right hand side, and caused a world of trouble for Leganés. Was fouled in the box but denied a penalty, before again being unbalanced - this time giving the referee no choice. Besides winning the penalty, he was the provider for Vinícius Júnior’s wonder goal. Defensively he was sound, putting in one very clean challenge in-particular to stop an opposition counter. The only thing that really annoyed me about Odriozola’s game is the fact that he was played in to surely finish off a decent move, and chose not to score a goal. He squared it to a Leganés defender. A decision that was met with groans from around the world. Still, a top performance.
Sergio Ramos — 8: I dare to say it: but I think this is the best game I’ve seen Sergio play since I agreed to cover these player ratings. He brought everything we’ve come to love about him into the game. He scored the opening goal with a well taken penalty. He also hit the post from a later chance but that was pulled back for a foul. Positionally I rarely saw him step out of line, and the times that he did were suitable for the action. A joy to watch when he’s like this.
Nacho Fernández — 7: Quieter than his centre-back partner, but still a valuable showing from the Spaniard. Martin Braithwaite was a thorn in his side, but nothing that needed a bandage. Even found the time to go on one or two unusual forward runs towards the end of the game.
Sergio Reguilón — 7: I’m very happy to see that Reguilón has become a very well oiled cog in the Real Madrid machine. The challenge of consistency was going to be a huge one for him to stand up to, but he has and he’s smashed it out of the park. He looked like he was born to be there again today, linking up with Vinícius so smoothly on the left. Maybe we’ll be seeing more of him in the coming weeks.
Casemiro — 7: An effective game from Casemiro. He did his job to the best of his abilities, and his distribution looked far more assured. If he made any rash positional errors and lingered to far forwards, then I certainly missed it. Whenever I caught him he was always in a good defensive position, and he looked to start a fair amount of attacks on the ball, too.
Fede Valverde — 7: An important start for Fede. He managed to show off plenty of his passing rang and his defensive strengths during the game. An ever available figure, Fede never shied away even after losing possession on occasion. A player that will get better and better the more that he plays.
Dani Ceballos — 7: A really energetic showing from the midfielder. Even when the team seemingly wasn’t pressing as a unit, Ceballos was always there closing down the ball. On the ball he was bright, and looked very calm even under pressure.
Lucas Vázquez — 7.5: I am well prepared to put up with some slack from a few of the angrier folks on this one. Breathe... I thought Lucas was pretty good tonight. He provided at least two key passes that Madrid should have scored from. One Benzema squandered, and one Odriozola was brought down for what should have been a penalty. Other than that, of course he scored a goal, albeit into an open net after some good play by Vinícius. Was subbed of for Isco for Madrid’s first change.
Vinícius Júnior — 8: Another exciting game filled with quality for the prodigy. Solari made sure to turn the handle on the wind up toy before the game, as Vinícius failed to stop peeling away at the opposition defence. It has to be said, that his decision making especially in the final third is still stinking the majority of the time - but he gets so much of the ball that something is bound to happen at some point. And it did. He provided a very cool and generous assist for Lucas Vázquez to finish into an empty net, before eventually finding the target himself. After hitting a few misfires, he finished off a pearler, as he volleyed Odriozola’s cross first time past the keeper. He was substituted immediately after for Brahim to come on and make his debut. Vinícius should definitely be seeing a whole lot more game time in the near future.
Karim Benzema — 7.5: Not the best game in front of goal, but on the ball he was divine. The defenders could not get near him, and he used his master level close control to pull off a number of good runs. His link-up play was quality as always and yes that sentence is saved into my drafts to pull out weekly. Came off for Cristo towards the end of the game.
Isco — 5.5: Came on for Lucas, and looked juicy on the ball just like last time out. Was far less effective here than in that showing however.
Brahim Díaz — 4.5: Came on for Vinícius to draw the curtain on his Real Madrid career. Defensively did a couple of good things, but looked overeager in attack and often lost the ball. Maintain the statement that he is a Castilla standard player at this moment in time. We will see indeed.
Cristo González: Really liked this change. Came on with a few minutes to go for Benzema. Fell over, and then was never seen again. No rating.
There is still a second leg to play, and with the team taking such a positive result into that game I’m sure expectations will be high on which player should be handed a chance. There’s not really any complaints from me regarding this game, and I actually think everything was more than satisfactory. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to empty out your thoughts into the comment section, as long as they’re respectful of course and you call me a massive legend I’ll make a point to respond to them all!