CP Cacereño 0-1 Real Madrid (Rodrygo Goes). Here is the immediate reaction to the cup game. Still to come: press conference details, player ratings and the ManagingMadrid podcast.
The first game of 2023 was set to be a fun one. CP Cacereño play their football in the newly structured Spanish fourth tier - one of the lowest divisions that Madrid have faced in years. They do however top their group in the league, and the Copa del Rey has always managed to conjure up shock results in the past. To try and avoid this, Carlo Ancelotti opted for a mix of strength and rotation within the first team squad. Andriy Lunin started again in goal after impressing earlier in the season. He was joined by rotational players like Nacho Fernández, Eden Hazard and Dani Ceballos. Regular starters such as Rodrygo Goes, Éder Militão and Marco Asensio to form a decent starting team. Castilla players did make the bench in numbers, as Sergio Arribas, Marvel, Luis López, Nico Paz, Lucas Cañizares and Álvaro Rodríguez all hoped for some minutes. The opposition surprisingly had no players of note. Nacho was to be the first captain of the year.
The enjoyment of occasions like this tends to come from the packed out home crowd, all squeezing into a tiny stadium for a glimpse at the stars in live time. The dark horses tend to put up a fight because of this heightened atmosphere, but the expectation is always that a team like Real Madrid should come away with a heavy score line. In the past, that has happened - but it doesn’t always work out that way. Other than a sailing Dani Ceballos shot that needed a good stop to match it, this match looked like it was destined not to work out that way at all. In fact, without Andiry Lunin making an alert save it could have gone terribly wrong just after the half hour mark... There were so few chances created by both teams in the first half, that the only other effort of any note came from a tame Éder Militão header that was never going in. Madrid did enjoy the majority of possession, but it seemingly meant very little as the half finished goalless.
Nothing scares Real Madrid more than a lower division team in the Copa Del Rey and if you watched the first half u will know why. There is some curse on our players in this competition where they lose all their footballing abilities. Why does the UCL games feel easier than this?— WolfRMFC (@WolfRMFC) January 3, 2023
As they didn’t clearly mean business in the first half, Carlo Ancelotti threw on Fede Valverde, Jesus Vallejo and Castilla man Álvaro Rodríguez (for his first team debut) to get things going. The chances did start coming in more regularly, but not many found the target - and it seemed like the players could not stop carelessly drifting into an offside position at one stage. The opening goal eventually did come, and it was from a counter-attack of all things. The team broke, Dani Ceballos found Rodrygo Goes to feet who beat his man inside the area before looping the ball around the keeper. Sergio Arribas managed to get on as the game was dying down, and in reality it looked like nothing was going to happen for either side as the game panned out to see Madrid go through to the next round. A forgetful showing, but at least the Castilla players can see potential opportunities arising once more in the future. Did you manage to endure the whole game? If so, what were your thoughts?