Real Madrid overcame their injury crisis by confidently dispatching Cádiz 3-0 on Sunday evening, with Rodrygo the hero even though he initially wasn’t supposed to be starting this game. After being called in last minute to the line-up, the Brazilian scored the first two goals to mean he now has six goals from his past six appearances, having put the goal drought well and truly behind him. There’s a lot to discuss from this one, and that’s what we do here in the form of three answers and three questions.
1. Would Rodrygo be ready to go?
Having returned late in the week due to his commitments with Brazil, Rodrygo was initially named on to the bench by Carlo Ancelotti. Instead, Brahim was going to start up front with Joselu. However, a bout of sickness meant Brahim dropped out of the starting XI just before the game, with Rodrygo called into the line-up at short notice. Would the Brazilian be ready and able to make the most of this opportunity? Absolutely. Rodrygo was the MVP of this game. He scored two brilliant individual goals, smoothly assisted Bellingham and simply caused Joseba Zaldua problems all game long. Given how good he was, it’s incredible to think that Rodrygo almost didn’t start this match.
2. Would the Modrić and Kroos pairing work?
Carlo Ancelotti has clearly abandoned the Modrić and Kroos pairing this season, as the Croatian and German had only started one other game together this season before tonight, which was the derby defeat to Atlético. But, with so many injuries, the two veterans both had to start this game together. How would that work? Well, it worked absolutely fine. Cádiz, as one of the weakest teams in the division and the team with the lowest possession, simply couldn’t exploit the weaknesses that come with Modrić and Kroos starting together. Furthermore, Valverde and Bellingham put in impressive shifts to cover so much ground. In this game, playing both Modrić and Kroos worked. That doesn’t mean that’ll also be the case in future fixtures, though.
3. Who’d win the battle of the brothers?
There was a sibling rivalry in this game, with Nacho starting and taking on his brother Álex Fernández. And, of course, it was the Real Madrid captain who came out on top against his younger brother. With this victory, Nacho has now won four of his seven clashes with his brother in his career, in addition to two draws and just one defeat for the centre-back.
1. Should Lunin keep his place in goals?
With Kepa still out injured, it was Lunin in goals again and he played really well. Not only did he make a couple of eye-catching saves, but the Ukrainian also commanded his box well by collecting almost every cross. Kepa is close to being available again, so Ancelotti has a big decision to make. As good as Kepa has been, Lunin has also performed solidly when called upon. And, Lunin’s command of his penalty area is better than Kepa’s. Should the Ukrainian keep his place in goals?
2. How bad is Modrić’s injury?
The one negative from this game was the fact that Luka Modrić limped off injured in the second half, with what appeared to be a muscular injury. It had been a good performance from the Croatian, so that’s a concern and only adds to the lengthy Real Madrid injury list. We’ll have to wait to see just how serious the injury is, and if the midfielder will have to miss any games.
3. How much should Real Madrid rotate against Napoli?
So, Real Madrid have survived the first fixture of this current injury crisis. Next up is Napoli at home in the Champions League. As much as taking first place in the group is important, it has to be kept in mind that Los Blancos have a five-point lead already over the Italians, so that midweek fixture really has to be viewed as an opportunity to rest players, particularly given how stretched the squad is right now. The next LaLiga game, at home against a Granada side who could benefit from a new manager bounce, is arguably much more important than the Napoli match, so rotations are needed on Wednesday. But, how much will Ancelotti actually rotate midweek? That is the question…