As the season edges closer to the business end for many teams, the results that they pick up at this stage can prove to be vital when the curtain calls. For some of the players on this list, title and promotion chasing leads have slimmed. For others, picking up as many points as possible to get away from the drop zone is the only focus. With February being the shortest month of the year, there were a few less points at stake. It was a close call this time around, but there is a now brand new star player to be crowned...
The Gold Category
Martin Ødegaard - (Vitesse Arnhem, Eredivisie)
It’s been more like October for Martin, as VAR will be a strong fixture in his nightmares for the next few weeks... It all started against his old club Heerenveen, where it seemed like he capped off a decent performance with a perfectly good last minute extended winner. He pursued through his muted celebration only for the entire game to be pulled back at VAR’s command for a foul at the other end - gifting Heerenveen a last minute penalty... They scored, and the scoreline turned from a 3-1 Vitesse win to a 2-2 draw. The following week brought another disappointing result, losing 2-1 to Groningen alongside a personal performance that the Norwegian would not be too pleased with. Vitesse would have to turn it around to maintain their strong league position, and they weren’t going to be able to do that without a forceful contribution from Martin. Luckily for Vitesse, he’s been more than up for the challenge this season. In the next game against Willem II, Martin chipped in with a goal and a valuable showing, as his side sneaked in a tight 4-3 win. The following week would see him put in one of his best performances to date. He scored an absolutely genius free-kick, and had yet another goal disallowed by VAR... His performance was so good that there is no point in me trying to describe it. Instead, I will link a video of his performance down below. I challenge you guys to count how many clear cut assists Martin could have had in this two minute highlight video alone. Away from the pitch, Martin was inducted onto the Vitesse Arnhem “wall of fame” and made the official Eredivise team of the month, alongside players like Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt. He could well have been the star man yet again this month, but variation turned out to be the deciding factor.
I saw the clip of his unbelievable goal yesterday but I didn’t realise his overall performance was this good that is mental. Homecoming pending https://t.co/dWqQe4nRwb— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) February 25, 2019
Borja Mayoral - (Levante, La Liga)
Another month to bring about some more statistics for Borja Mayoral. He didn’t actually get much playing time in February, completing just one 90 minutes, and coming on as a substitute a further two times. When Levante played Real Madrid he was also ineligible to play. He did however bag both a goal and an assist in that 90 minutes, during a comprehensive 4-1 win over Celta Vigo. It’s safe to say that Borja will always add to his personal statistic pad every month, but he will definitely still be hoping to improve on the currently minimal additions.
Aleix Febas - (Albacete, La Liga2)
It’s been an anxious month for Albacete. Even though they went unbeaten in February they still let their place at the top of the table slip, and they currently sit in second, one point behind the new leaders Osasuna. Aleix started the first three games, as his side won two of them convincingly against Luismi Quezada’s Córdoba and Mallorca. The midfield anchor was then unavailable for the draw with Real Oviedo. Despite picking up no further stats he was still as influential as ever, and will continue to be so during one of the biggest moments in the club’s history.
Álvaro Tejero - (Albacete, La Liga2)
Febas was good last month, but Tejero was better! The defender played every single minute over the four games, and contributed with a further two assists, helping keep three clean-sheets in the process. Ironically Álvaro was directly at fault for the only goal they did concede during the month, after giving a penalty away for hand ball against Córdoba. He sure made up for it though with a gorgeous assist for the decisive goal. His second assist against Mallorca came from an equally quality cross into the box for the first goal. Looking at the LaLiga2 table below you can see how incredibly close the title race is at the moment, with each team in the top 5 being separated by one point from each other. This means that Albacete will need to keep up their good form for a significant amount of time. One slip could be detrimental. I personally really hope to see them in La Liga next season. For his creativity, and constant consistency, Álvaro Tejero picks up February’s star player award!
The Silver Category
Raúl de Tomás - (Rayo Vallecano, La Liga)
The goals looked to have dried up a little for de Tomás, but for the most part the good performances certainly didn’t. After a more than disappointing home loss to Leganés, and a frustrating loss against Espanyol. Raúl’s personal performances were quickly rectified with a strong showing against noisy neighbours Atlético Madrid, despite another negative scoreline. He then concluded February by netting a goal against Getafe, but Rayo still went on to lose 2-1. Losing all four games in February slumped Rayo into the relegation zone, and unless they can quickly turn things around it may only get worse for the Madrid side.
Óscar Rodríguez - (Leganés, La Liga)
Óscar was another player to have played in every minute possible during February, and he rewarded his coach’s faith by chipping in with two assists. His first against RdT’s Rayo Vallecano came through a trademark in-swinging corner. His second was merely the icing on top of the cake, as his low defence splitting-pass capped off a tremendous individual performance in a 3-0 demolition of Real Betis. Óscar continues to have an amazing season. His last game of the month against Valencia was his 20th La Liga start in a row for Leganés... They currently sit in a comfortable 13th place, but will have to have their wits about them to remain so comfortable.
Andriy Lunin - (Leganés, La Liga)
Clean Sheets: 0
Whilst one player unpredictably thrives at Leganés, another unpredictably struggles. Lunin sat on the bench for every game during February, and with the team’s good form it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon... Nothing further to add.
The Bronze Category
Lusimi Quezada - (Córdoba, La Liga2)
Remember that starting spot that Luismi worked hard to regain last month? Well now it’s in jeopardy once again, and Córdoba remain in the relegation zone... After starting the first game, in a loss against Albacete, a mix of a minor injury and suspension meant that Luismi would not play again in February, giving other players a chance to shine. He is supposedly back for this weekends fixture against high-flyers Malaga, so it will be interesting to see if he gets a free pass back into the side.
Sergio Díaz - (Corinthians, Brasileiro Série A)
Some huge news coming from Brazil, as Sergio Díaz has finally featured again! He came on as a substitute and played 26 minutes in the Copa Sudamericana against Argentinian side Racing Club. He didn’t manage to get any more minutes during the month, let alone any goal scoring contributions - but this is a good start.
Achraf Hakimi - (Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga)
You could quite easily label Dortmund’s February as a complete disaster! After drawing in the league against Frankfurt, Hakimi scored, but went through a gruelling 120 minutes of cup football against Werder Bremen, only to be knocked out on penalties. Another league draw against Hoffenheim was then quickly forgotten as Dortmund were thrashed 3-0 in the Champions League last 16 first leg clash against Tottenham. Achraf had a particularly difficult evening against the English side. He was then benched against Nuremberg, as Dortmund again slipped up in the Bundesliga with another draw. Achraf came back into the side at the end of the month for a good win against Bayer Leverkusen. This was perhaps both Achraf, and Borussia Dortmund’s worst month of the season, as they got knocked out of one cup, all but knocked out of a second - and dropped their substantial advantage in the league. Blips inevitably happen within the course of a season, but another one of this magnitude will see Dortmund leave with nothing.
Achraf Hakimi vs. Bayer Leverkusen:— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) February 25, 2019
81 Touches (most)
2/6 Long Balls
68.9% Pass Accuracy
4 Crosses (most)
3 Times Fouled (most)
1 Tackle pic.twitter.com/xVk45EezGy
The White Category
Pablo Margallo - (Unión Adarve, Segunda División B)
Another month of nothing for Pablo Margallo. A player I and many others have never seen play, his Real Madrid future is beginning to look bleak before it has even begun.
Lin Liangming - (Almería (B), La Liga2/Segunda División B)
A bizarrely poor month for Lin. For a player that has been in and out of his club’s first team this season after some great performances, Lin started just one game throughout February - even being taken off at half time in that one. He only played 12 minutes elsewhere... Almería’s B team are situated firmly in the Segunda B group four relegation zone, so perhaps Lin has found it more difficult to impose himself in matches as games become more desperate and scrappier. He will be certainly hoping to turn his fortunes around though to preserve his good reputation within the club and it’s first team.
February passed by seemingly with the click of a finger, and I highly doubt that the pace will lessen between now and the end of the season. The line between glory and agony is a thin one, and Real Madrid’s loanees will have to step up and make it count to help their teams achieve a small slice of footballing history. Mink Peeters has officially been removed from this list, but it looks like he will not be featuring for Castilla this season due to some disappointing registration problems. As always, these reports are best accompanied alongside the marvellous podcast’s brought to you by Matt Wiltse and Kiyan Sobhani, so be sure to check them out. The star player for me this month was Albacete’s Álvaro Tejero, for his ever existing dependency and newly uncovered attacking flare. March will be sure to bring a few new surprises to the party. Until next time...