Despite the late rally, Real Madrid were outplayed in this one and Real Sociedad deservedly moved on to the semi-finals. There are lots of questions marks and just a few answers for Real Madrid from this game. Here, we look at three answers and three questions to try to make sense of it all.
1. How would Martin Ødegaard do this time?
Real Madrid fans had already gotten to see Martin Ødegaard return to the Bernabéu once, in the 3-1 win in the first half of the LaLiga season, and they got to see him once more here. He was great on his last visit and was impressive once again, even scoring his first Bernabéu goal to become the first Norwegian to score at the stadium since John Carew in 2006 – albeit with some assistance from Alphonse Areola. This was a good showing from the playmaker and he received a well-deserved ovation as he was substituted off in the 64th minute.
2. Would this be the ‘Mateu Lahoz Show’?
Antonio Mateu Lahoz was the referee for this one and that’s always a curveball. He’s the most unpredictable referee in Spain. Once considered one of the country’s top officials, hence why he is one of Spain’s international representatives, he has become increasingly keen to be the star of the show and that was a risk going into this one, just his second Real Madrid game of the season after the home Osasuna win. While he didn’t have many big decisions to rule on and while he didn’t alter the overall outcome of the game, this match was littered with minor refereeing mistakes and poor management of the time wasting. “Mateu, how bad you are,” sang the Real Madrid fans. That was their verdict.
3. Would this be James Rodríguez’s Copa del Rey?
It has been clear all season that James Rodríguez is not a starter for Zinedine Zidane, but he has been in the Copa del Rey. Zidane clearly made a decision to let this be the Colombian’s tournament, his space to prove himself. So far he had been just so-so against Unionistas and Real Zaragoza and now, even against a quality top-division opponent, Zidane gave him another chance. The playmaker, though, was anonymous and then hooked at half time. He’s had 225 Copa del Rey minutes this season – 35 percent of his total minutes across all competitions this season – and done very little with them. This has not been James’ Copa del Rey.
1. What if Isak had signed for Real Madrid?
Alexander Isak kept up his scoring run and has now scored seven goals in his past five games, including two stunning strikes in this one – as well as one offside finish and a role in both the other goals. The Swedish striker could have been a Real Madrid player, as he was so close to signing for Los Blancos in January of 2017. There was even a flight and hotel booked for him, but he ultimately went to Borussia Dortmund and has now ended up at Real Sociedad via Willem II. But what if he’d signed for Real Madrid back then? He’s already become a wonderful player at 20 years of age and is having a much better season than Luka Jović. What if he’d been at Real Madrid and learning from Karim Benzema for the past three years? It didn’t happen. But, what if…
2. What if Carvajal gets injured or suspended?
The decision to loan Álvaro Odriozola to Bayern Munich was risky and there was always the potential for Real Madrid to come to regret it as it left them without a natural backup right-back. “Ah, but Nacho,” they said. “There’s Éder Militão,” they cried. “Don’t forget Lucas Vázquez,” said, well... some. Well, Carvajal was out with a slight knock tonight and Nacho had to fill in. He’d done well against Real Valladolid, but that was Real Valladolid and they hardly tested him. Here, he struggled going up against Mikel Oyarzabal. Real Madrid had squad depth at every position going into the season, but gave up that depth at right-back last month. Now they must hope Carvajal doesn’t get injured or suspended. In the Champions League, he already has one yellow card…
3. How will this affect momentum?
This defeat brings to an end Real Madrid’s undefeated run. They hadn’t lost since October 19th in Mallorca, then embarking on a 21-match undefeated run, with 16 wins and five draws. While the Copa del Rey obviously wasn’t the priority this season, any defeat can hurt momentum and especially one as dramatic as this. How will the effect of this result be? How will Real Madrid respond? We’ll find out on Sunday as they visit Osasuna.