Real Madrid’s first crack at the new single game structure in the cup was to be against third division side Unionistas de Salamanca CF. There was a lot of talk about the stadium and whether or not it could manage a fixture of such magnitude for the hosts, but they went ahead regardless without any problems. The actual game was very mundane, and Madrid stumbled to a 3-1 win. You can see my player ratings from the game below...
Alphonse Areola — 7: Dealt with everything he needed to, and without his saves the game could have actually been even more awkward for Madrid. One excellent athletic stop, and well as a well held effort from closed range were amongst his best interactions.
Dani Carvajal — 5.5: I saw him on the ball a lot quite early on, carrying it well. He also got stuck into some challenges. As the game went on however he merged into the crowd and became pretty ineffective.
Eder Militão — 5: Eder was also noticeable at times throughout the game, but for some costly mistakes. He didn’t look very comfortable when defending or with the ball. I wouldn’t look too deep into it, though.
Nacho Fernández — 5: Not really noticeable at all. Didn’t really hold up well against third division players, but he was by no means alone in that.
Marcelo — 5: You’d think being a player with Marcelo’s ability, with something to prove to the gaffer on a game like this would spur the man on. Alas, even he wasn’t really up for it in this game.
Casemiro — 7: Casemiro was one of the only players that looked to relish this occasion. He would most likely be comfortable anywhere with his skill set, and he was always ready to rumble today. Potential man of the match.
Fede Valverde — 5: You know it’s not that important when even Fede Valverde isn’t engrossed in the game. The midfielder was by no means bad, but just uninterested for large parts of the proceedings.
James Rodríguez — 5: James really needed to turn up today, and almost scored on multiple occasions. Sadly, he wasn’t as productive as he would have wanted to be.
Vinicius Junior — 5.5: VJ played well and scored against Unionistas for Castilla last season. Saw more of the ball than most. His game was still marred by rash decisions and raw finishing ability.
Gareth Bale — 5: Looked hurt early on in the game, before scoring the opening goal with a messy low strike. Struggled to get involved, staying away from tackles and losing the ones he did go for. Came off early in the second half for Brahim.
Karim Benzema — 5: As ineffective as you will ever see him. Just the story of the day really.
Brahim Díaz — 7: Opportunities really are rare for this man. Maybe he should have started, but no matter - as for me he was the brightest spark in the whole game. Heavily involved in the second goal (an own goal), and the scorer of the third and final. His solo run and tidy finish reminded fans why he is so highly rated. I hope this changes his fortunes, but I doubt it will.
Luka Jović: Came on with 15 minutes to go, and apart from missing an open goal, was not to be seen again. No rating.
Isco: Had a ten minute cameo at the end of the game, but couldn't produce enough to earn a rating.
A win is a win, and Real Madrid got what they needed from this game. Brahim, Areola and Casemiro shone some light on an otherwise dreary showing, and Real Madrid are through to the next round of the Copa del Rey. Even the poor performances shouldn’t be taken too seriously as the whole event was entirely unconventional. What was your favourite part of the game?