If you were looking for solace after Real Madrid’s disappointing result yesterday evening, there is no better medicine than watching Martin Odegaard play. After a fantastic debut from the 20-year-old against Valencia last week, he followed it up with a man-of-the-match performance and game-winning goal against a resilient and tough Mallorca side.
Mallorca were impressive, especially in the opening 45 minutes. Kubo will not waltz into this team. They are an organized and strong defensive side with the right tools to hurt any team on the counter. Their 4-4-2 is composed of tight narrow lines which clogged the midfield and suffocated space, making it so hard for Sociedad to build out of the back.
Odegaard was the only player capable of creating something for La Real. As the first-half wore on his influence grew. He nearly had two assists. He’s so adept at pulling off quick one-two interchanges which are the key to unlocking low blocks. His chemistry with Januzaj, and later Portu, proved to be vital in unlocking the Mallorca defense.
Mallorca would hit the post and come close on a couple of occasions in the second half. Alguacil brought on Isak and Portu for Januzaj and Willian Jose to provide some dynamism and try to stretch the stalwart Mallorca backline. Their impact was vital — Isak would drive at the backline forcing them back and Portu’s incisive runs were constantly found by Odegaard. Isak would draw a foul just outside the box in the 80th minute, leading to a direct free kick which was nearly scored by Odegaard. That was simply a preview of what was to come.
In the 82nd minute, the dying minutes of the game, Real Sociedad would produce a counter of their own after clearing a Mallorca corner kick. Odegaard would receive the ball and play a perfectly weighted pass for Portu sprinting down the right flank. The Norwegian than followed his pass with a run straight down the heart of the Mallorca defense, receiving the ball back from Portu and putting away the crucial game winner.
Odegaard is already cementing himself as one of Real Sociedad’s most important players. He has adapted to La Liga like a fish to water. If he continues to play like he has, there will be no denying him a return to Real Madrid.