Real Madrid’s 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza threw up several talking points and we take a look at some of them here. It was a midweek Copa del Rey game and here’s a midweek edition of our three questions that were answered and out three questions needing answering.
1. Which team would rotate the most?
Both of these teams have huge fixtures coming up in the league at the weekend, with Real Madrid hosting Atlético Madrid in the derby and with fourth-place Real Zaragoza visiting first-place Cádiz in the second division. As such, there were always going to be rotations. But how much? And which team would rotate more? Well, it turned out that they rotated just as much as each other. Of the 11 most-used players in this season’s Real Zaragoza squad, six started this one. Meanwhile, of the 11 most-used players at Real Madrid, there were six in Zinedine Zidane’s starting line-up.
2. Could Vinícius make the most of this latest Copa opportunity?
Vinícius wasn’t in the squad for the weekend’s trip to Valladolid, but was back for this one and was in Zidane’s starting line-up. After a so-so performance in Salamanca last week in the cup, this was another opportunity for the Brazilian to show what he could do and he absolutely grasped it. From the very start, he was energetic, pacey, skillful and a pain for the home side’s defenders. Of course, he got himself on the scoresheet in beautiful fashion in the second half, for his first goal since the Club Brugge dead rubber on December 11th. And he contributed in defence on multiple occasions. As Real Madrid were looking to close out the first half, Vinícius was there tracking back to ensure there was no setback in first half stoppage time and his efforts earned a spirited high five from Sergio Ramos. From start to finish and in attack and defence, this was an excellent outing from the 19-year-old.
3. How would Alberto Soro perform against his parent club?
This match was a great opportunity for Real Madrid fans to take a look at Alberto Soro, the 20-year-old wide forward who Los Blancos purchased from Real Zaragoza last summer and then immediately loaned back to the Aragonese side, whose academy he came through. In this match, he played more centrally than he usually does and he did well, especially in the first half. Although unable to get a shot off during his 74 minutes on the pitch, he showed glimpses of quality and could form part of the Real Madrid first-team squad for next summer’s pre-season, before the club decide what his 2020/21 fate should be.
1. Is this Toni Kroos’ best Real Madrid season?
Toni Kroos absolutely bossed this game. Playing in a slightly different role from usual, alongside Fede Valverde to form a double pivot, the German was excellent in defence and in attack. Most of all, his passing was so slick and so calm and he was time and again able to dangle the ball in front of a Real Zaragoza player for long enough that they’d bite, at which point he’d tap it away and onwards towards another player in lime green. There were also another two assists from Kroos in this one, the second of which involved him winning the ball back so high up the pitch. He now has eight assists already this season, in what is potentially his best campaign since joining the club. Which is saying something.
2. What will Zidane have thought of Marcelo’s performance?
This is the big question for me. Marcelo wasn’t good in defence in this match and Zidane already knows that. But when he looks back at this game in even further detail, the Frenchman might become even more concerned about the Brazilian. Most of all, it was the lack of concentration and carelessness that was concerning. There was the moment in the first half when he needlessly took a risk by letting a ball run out for a potential goal kick and ended up conceding a corner, while there was also an instance in the second half when a piece of poor control and a lack of balance in attack saw the ball escape the left-back, who then lay on the floor in disappointment for far too long. These are not the kinds of mistakes that Ferland Mendy has been making this season. So, it’d be very interesting to know what Zidane’s thoughts are on Marcelo right now.
3. How tired will Real Madrid be for the derby?
Next up for Real Madrid is the derby at home to Atlético Madrid. Their neighbours may be in poor form, but they’ll be up for this game and they’ll have had a full week to prepare given that there was no Copa del Rey fixture this midweek for Diego Simeone’s men. Will that extra rest be a factor in the derby? This fixture in Zaragoza could have been draining for Real Madrid and really given Atleti an edge, but the good news for Zidane is that this was a comfortable victory that didn’t seem to require too much exertion. We’ll see on Saturday just how much is left in the tank.