Things had gotten serious in the Copa del Rey as Real Madrid had a chance to progress to the quarter finals of a competition that they barely ever win. Villarreal posed a strong challenge, meaning that the opportunities that youth players received in the previous round would be hard to come by this time out. Carlo Ancelotti did name Castilla talent Vinicius Tobias on the bench after fans had been crying out for his inclusion - and he was joined by Luis López and Mario Martin Martín. The starting line-up was a far more experienced one, though - with Thibaut Courtois starting over Andriy Lunin for the first cup game in a long time. Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio were amongst the other substitutes. Karim Benzema captained the team.
Carlo Ancelotti may have started to feel the pressure after the recent post World Cup form and results. It went from bad to worse for him after four minutes as Villarreal took the lead via Étienne Capoue. Fede Valverde tried to get a quick reply in but his shot went over the bar. The effort from the team wasn’t exactly convincing, but Ferland Mendy could have made things better when he found himself one on one with the keeper, but his effort wasn’t good enough to beat the keeper. Samuel Chukwueze scored Villarreal’s second with not long to go of the first half, when he was on the receiving end of a superb pass before finishing nicely into the top corner. It could have been three before half-time as well, but Thibaut Courtois managed to save an effort from Alberto Moreno really well. 2-0 at half-time.
Ceballos has changed the game for Real Madrid, he is actually too disrespected by our fanbase. pic.twitter.com/KCZ1TWj2GG— WolfRMFC (@WolfRMFC) January 19, 2023
The half needed to be perfect from Real Madrid, and it could not have gone better for Ancelotti’s men. It actually started pretty slow, but things picked up when Vinícius Júnior finished really well after creating space for himself to shoot. Marco Asensio then came on, only to see a free-kick attempt saved low by the keeper. Minutes later Madrid would equalise, as Éder Militão bundled the ball in after Karim Benzema’s header was saved into his path. The comeback was on, but Madrid would not want extra time here. Eduardo Camavinga tried his luck from distance but his shot flew wide of the mark. Dani Ceballos had a real influence on the game after coming in to replace Toni Kroos - and his efforts were rewarded when he managed to bag the winner with a good first time shot after being found well by Asensio. Madrid managed to game well from this point onwards, and saw the game out for 3-2 win. Roll on the quarter finals!