It was Elche again and it was a tough game again for Real Madrid, this time finishing 2-2 as a Luka Modrić penalty and Éder Militão header earned Los Blancos a point. With a tribute to Paco Gento before the match, it was a busy afternoon at the Bernabéu and the main talking points are discussed below.
1. Would Elche be a thorn in Real Madrid’s side again?
Just three days after the chaos of the cup clash, we got a Real Madrid vs Elche rematch. Los Blancos surely weren’t relishing the prospect, as Elche have always played them tough in recent times. Looking back over the head-to-head records, before the extra time experience in the cup there were a couple of narrow 2-1 wins for Real Madrid and a 1-1 draw at their place last season. For whatever reason, Elche seem to step it up against the capital city side. And, they did exactly that once again. Again, it wasn’t a win for Elche because of Militão’s dramatic late leveller, but Elche again made life difficult for Real Madrid.
2. What does the Bernabéu look like in daylight?
It was quite weird being at the Bernabéu this early in the day. Of Real Madrid’s 13 other home matches this season, all 13 of them had taken place at night. Seeing the Bernabéu in the sun was, therefore, quite unusual. Because Los Blancos also played away from the Bernabéu last season, this was actually Real Madrid’s first home afternoon game since a derby win on February 1st 2020.
3. How would Real Madrid pay tribute to Gento?
This game also had a different kind of feel to it because of the very special pre-match ceremony to pay tribute to Paco Gento, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 88. As one of the greatest club legends, a big tribute was expected and the club went all out. There were large banners, there was a string quartet and they also presented all of Gento’s trophies on the pitch. It was a touching moment and the club deserves credit for making it so.
1. Had Benzema missed a penalty before?
Something unprecedented happened at the Bernabéu this Sunday afternoon, as Karim Benzema missed a penalty. That had never happened before in his Real Madrid career. Before that skied effort in the first half, the No.9 had scored 16 penalties out of 16 in official Real Madrid matches. His overall record now stands at 23 scored and four– this one and three for France – missed, making for a penalty success percentage of 85%.
2. Will Benzema join Vinícius in missing the Granada game?
The penalty miss wasn’t the only piece of bad news for Benzema. In the 57th minute, he limped off the pitch to be replaced by Luka Jović with an apparent left thigh injury. We’ll have to see how long he is out for, but it’s bad news and bad timing considering Vinícius picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will now miss the next LaLiga Santander fixture with suspension. Fortunately, that next LaLiga game isn’t until February 6th, when Granada visit the Bernabéu.
3. Has Marcelo motivated Mendy to do more?
In the Copa del Rey clash with Elche, Marcelo had a good game in attack and it seems Ferland Mendy has taken notice. The left-back is an elite defender, but his contributions to attack have been limited. Not today, though. Mendy had 103 touches in this match, his second-most in a Real Madrid game ever – only a 0-0 draw vs Athletic in 2019 saw him have more, with 106. They were largely good touches too, as he played some neat passes and broke through the lines. This wasn’t a good attacking display from Real Madrid, but that wasn’t Mendy’s fault. The Frenchman still has to be a lot more efficient in the final third, but the desire to get involved was certainly there today. Is that because Marcelo’s Thursday night display motivated Mendy to do more in attack? Whatever the answer is, it’s good to see.