Real Madrid started 2021 with a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo, bouncing back from the Elche draw thanks to goals from Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio. Here, then, is the first three answers and three questions piece of the year.
1. How would Real Madrid cope with Aspas?
Iago Aspas arrived at this game in good form and he was the only Celta Vigo player who Zinedine Zidane mentioned by name in his pre-match press conference. So, how would the Real Madrid defence cope with him, especially in the absence of the sick Sergio Ramos? Well, they did a decent job against the Galician until he went off with an injury in the sixth minute of the second half. But, that being said, Aspas did almost open the scoring for Celta Vigo just moments before Real Madrid took the lead. He had an effort cleared away by Nacho just before Real Madrid broke forward and had another Galician – Lucas Vázquez – score the game’s first goal.
2. How much better would Real Madrid be with Mendy?
There was a lot of talk about Marcelo after the midweek draw at Elche, some of it unfair in my view. Marcelo wasn’t awful against Elche, but once again Real Madrid dropped points with him on the pitch. So, with Ferland Mendy coming back in, how much better would it be. Well, he was his usual solid self in defence. In attack, though, the Frenchman was once again lacking. That wayward shot that he attempted with his right foot will go viral for all the wrong reasons.
3. Who would get the first Real Madrid goal of the year?
It was the first game of 2021, so the first Real Madrid goal of 2021 was waiting. Lucas Vázquez scored it, following a David Soria own goal for the first goal of 2020, a Karim Benzema goal for the first of 2019, a Gareth Bale goal for the first of 2018, James Rodríguez for 2017, Benzema for 2016 and Cristiano Ronaldo for 2015.
1. Will people ask too much of Asensio once again?
When Marco Asensio returned from his long-term knee injury against Valencia towards the end of last season, he scored with his first touch. Everyone was happy for him and that was great, but what that goal did was put expectations well above what they should have been. An ACL injury is not easy to come back from. With Asensio, it has been a slow process and he is still trying to regain his form. He has now scored his first goal of 2020/21, but can we please not assume that one goal equates to him being fully recovered? He himself spoke about his ongoing recovery after the match. He said: “People don’t know that getting games and minutes under my belt is a long process and I am working hard to give my all,” he said. His goal is a good sign, but it doesn’t change much. He still needs patience. He’s still recovering from an awful injury.
2. What does the future hold for never-used Éder Militão?
Nacho was the one to come in for the sick Sergio Ramos in this game, which makes sense given how the Spaniard played during Ramos’ previous absence. But, you have to wonder what the future holds for Éder Militão. The Brazilian centre-back has appeared in just three matches all season. He has had coronavirus and an injury, but that’s still a shockingly low amount of involvement for a player who was signed for €50m and who is supposed to be a prospect for the future. He’ll turn 23 on January 18th. He’s not a kid anymore. But, he’s not being used and it’s very unclear what the future holds for him.
3. Did Carvajal try to get himself booked?
When Dani Carvajal went off in the 85th minute he was told by the referee to go off at the sideline near his right-back position, on the opposite side from the dugouts. Yet he instead walked all the way across the pitch and picked up a yellow card as he did so. That means he’ll miss the next match against Osasuna because of yellow card accumulation. So, did he do this on purpose? Carvajal has previous for intentionally seeking bookings in order to miss a less difficult game and to ensure he’s available for a more difficult one. Osasuna away should be easy on paper, as they’re second-bottom, but it’s still a risk to intentionally miss a match.