Real Madrid produced one of their best performances of the season to defeat Real Sociedad 2-0 away from home, on a day when some of their main rivals had slipped up. This could go down as a momentous day in the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season and the main talking points from this huge victory are discussed here.
1. Could Real Madrid capitalise on Kubo’s gift?
It had been a good afternoon for Real Madrid, with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid each suffering losses at home, but Los Blancos have a bit of a history of failing to capitalise on such situations. So, would they be able to pull even clearer of Atleti ahead of next week’s derby? Or, would Real Madrid slip up too, given that they had the hardest fixture of Spanish football’s big three? Well, Real Madrid went out their and got the job done, putting in one of their very best performances of the season in one of the most difficult fixtures so far. This was a display for Carlo Ancelotti to be proud of.
2. Would Casemiro receive a derby suspension?
Coming into this game, Casemiro was just one yellow card away from a LaLiga suspension and a booking would see him miss the Madrid derby against Atleti on Matchday 17. So, would he be able to avoid ending up in the referee’s notebook? Well, the Brazilian came close on a couple of occasions and referee Jesús Gil Manzano warned him to watch his step. But, Casemiro survived and was replaced by Eduardo Camavinga in the 65th minute to ensure he’d make it to next weekend.
3. How would Real Madrid cope with the Sörloth-Isak double punch?
In Real Sociedad’s big games this season, Imanol Alguacil has opted for Alexander Isak and Alexander Sörloth together if he’s had them both available. He started them together up front against Sevilla, Atlético and Athletic, but in no other matches. Here, the coach of La Real once again brought out the double-punch for the visit of Los Blancos. So, how would the capital city side deal with them? Well, they did so well. In open play and at set pieces, Real Madrid did better than many might have expected against the Scandinavian duo. They shut them down and limited them to one off-target Isak shot and nothing more.
1. How long is Benzema out and is Jović the man to replace him?
The 18th minute brought the moment all Real Madrid fans had been dreading – an injury to Karim Benzema. It was always likely to happen at some point, with the No.9 now 33 and back playing for France too, but this wasn’t the ideal moment with such a tough and demanding schedule over the next couple of weeks. Although Mariano replaced Benzema when he sat out at Elche, Ancelotti turned to Luka Jović this time and the Serbian entered the pitch with nobody in the world quite sure what to expect. But, he was brilliant. His hold-up play teed up Vinícius for the opener, before he bravely got his head to a low ball for the second goal. Even apart from the goals, Jović fit in well. Benzema is set to undergo tests on what is a suspected hamstring injury, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to face Inter and he’ll be a major doubt for Atlético too. Will Ancelotti stick with Jović? And how will he do? It seems we’re about to find out.
2. Are we sure Ferland Mendy is right footed?
As this game was winding down, Ferland Mendy gave the fans what they were hoping for by firing off his weekly right-footed prayer of a shot. It has become a running joke, but it really is the case that he shoots more with his right than with his left. Looking over his entire club career, he has taken 84 non-headed shots and 52 of these – which is 62 percent – have been with his right foot. As for his five goals, four were with his right foot and one with his left. Last season, Zinedine Zidane actually discussed this by saying: “He’s more accurate with his left, but maybe stronger with his right.”
3. Will Militão end up being a bargain?
This time last year, Éder Militão had played in just three matches of the 2020/21 season. At this stage of the 2021/22 campaign, he has already made 20 appearances. He is a rock at the heart of the Real Madrid and has shaken off the label of potential transfer flop to become a bargain. Even though the Brazilian cost €50m, this could end up proving good value for money. Considering Real Madrid sold Raphaël Varane for €40m, they’ve essentially spent just €10m to swap a 28-year-old who had already given so much to the club for a 23-year-old who will lead the back line for many years to come. Militão has been great all season, but was especially impressive in this game with 10 clearances, two blocked shots, two interceptions and nine of his 12 individual duels won.