Real Madrid enjoyed their most comfortable win of the season this Saturday, defeating Huesca 4-1 at Valdebebas. Even though this was a fairly calm match, there were still many talking points and several of them are discussed below.
1. Would Zidane pick his strongest team for this “final”?
Zinedine Zidane described this match as “a final” in his pre-match press conference, which is a nonsense thing to say about a Matchday Eight fixture at home to Huesca. He obviously wanted to highlight that this is an important match and that the upcoming Inter game shouldn’t be a distraction. But, matches that are not finals are not finals. If this was “a final”, then you wouldn’t leave out Raphaël Varane, Ferland Mendy and Toni Kroos for a rest, as Zidane did today. So, please let’s stop calling every single football match ever “a final”. Okay. Rant over.
2. How would Eden Hazard’s first start of the season go?
As Larry David would say, pretty pretty pretty good. He wasn’t really the King of the Match, even though that award was attributed to him afterwards, but Hazard played like Chelsea Hazard in his first start of the season, getting involved in almost all of Real Madrid’s attacks during his time on the pitch. He hit a super strike to score the opener and was also involved in the nice build-up play for the 3-0, before coming off in the 60th minute for a pre-scripted substitution. The Belgian had three shots, had 43 touches, had completed 28 of his 33 passes and had won one of his three dribbles by the time he came off. Considering he is still only just getting back to match fitness, this was impressive from Hazard.
3. What would Huesca’s Real Madrid armband look like?
Huesca are one of the coolest clubs in Spain’s top flight right now and one of the reasons for this is the fact that, for the past couple of seasons, they’ve created a custom captain’s armband for every away game which incorporates a particular feature of their opponents’ history or city or region. Given that this match was played at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano and given that Di Stéfano was nicknamed the Blonde Arrow, the design was focussed on arrows and footballs and had a golden background. Huesca always make a second copy of each captain’s armband to present as a gift to their hosts after each away game, so this special Di Stéfano armband is now in Real Madrid’s possession. What a nice touch from Huesca, a class club.
BRAZALETES | Saetas, dos balones de oro, otros de cuero y el color amarillo...— SD Huesca (@SDHuesca) October 30, 2020
Nuestro brazalete de capitán para el #RealMadridHuesca tiene un claro protagonista, que da nombre al campo que mañana visitamos.
¡Va por Alfredo Di Stéfano! ✨
¿Os gusta, @realmadrid?
1. Can we move on from the Benzema and Vinícius thing now?
The Spanish press reported it on Thursday. Zidane said it on Friday. Then the players’ actions proved it on Saturday. There is no issue between Benzema and Vinícius. Some genuinely thought that the midweek controversy would carry on into the weekend and that the pair would intentionally not pass to each other. But, that wasn’t the case. They exchanged eight passes in the half hour they were on the pitch together. Considering the pair completed 31 in total in that half hour, that means that just over a quarter of their passes in that final half hour were to each other. They’re fine. So, can we move on please?
2. Is Lucas Vázquez a right-back now?
I’d read a few pieces over the past week talking about Lucas Vázquez’s conversion to right-back, but that seemed a little premature. It still does, even though this was his 15th total appearance for Real Madrid at right-back according to Transfermarkt. For the third time in a week, he was asked to fill in on the right of defence to cover for the absences of Dani Carvajal, Álvaro Odriozola and Nacho. Once again, he did well, even assisting Benzema for his first goal. I still think it’s early to say that Lucas Vázquez is becoming a right-back, but he’s doing well for now. Let’s see how he does against Inter on Tuesday, where he is surely going to start after being rested for the final half hour today.
3. When will Real Madrid next play this early?
I know that, for a lot of the Managing Madrid community, this was a very early kick-off time where you are. For others, it was the perfect kick-off time. For Spain-based fans, it was simply an unusual kick-off time. We don’t normally see Real Madrid play at 14:00 CET or earlier. In fact, such an early kick-off time has only happened four other times in the past couple of seasons. There were two main reasons for such an early kick-off time taking place today. One was that all four of the Champions League teams were logically going to play on Saturday to have sufficient rest ahead of the midweek games and this meant one of the Champions League teams would be in the 14:00 CET slot. Another reason was that Japan legend Shinji Okazaki was supposed to play this game, before getting injured. Putting the game at a good time for the Japanese audience was, therefore, another factor. So, when will they play this early again? Maybe in December, when they play Eibar and their Japanese duo.