It took until the final 15 minutes, but Real Madrid eventually broke through Osasuna and Sergio Herrera and earned a 2-0 win thanks to Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio goals. Vinícius had two goals ruled out for offside too, so there really is a lot to talk about as we discuss three pre-match questions that were answered and three new questions to come out of this game.
1. Were Real Madrid really not thinking about Liverpool?
Carlo Ancelotti stated before this game that: “We have dedicated zero hours to the Liverpool game, we’re only planning for Osasuna.” Would that prove to be true, or was the Italian just saying that to try to highlight the importance of this LaLiga match? Well, given the way Real Madrid played in the opening hour, it did seem like they were thinking about Liverpool at least a little. It was a very unintense first half from Los Blancos, with their first-half chances coming more so from Osasuna mistakes than anything else. In the second half, though, Real Madrid dramatically upped the intensity and got the win. That means that now it’s time to think about Liverpool.
2. How would Vinícius look after his rare rest?
Vinícius had enjoyed a rare week off, because of his suspension for the midweek match against Elche. So, how would he look in this game? Would he be recharged and extra energetic? Well yes, he really seemed to be at 100 percent, causing all sorts of problems for Jon Moncayola, the midfielder who had to fill in at right-back because of injuries to Nacho Vidal and Rúben Peña. Vini attempted 12 dribbles in this game and pulled off seven of them, while he also provided the breakthrough assist, scored two goals that were disallowed for offside and had three huge chances that Sergio Herrera solved each time. Vinícius was certainly highly involved in this game, with the week of rest having helped him recharge.
3. Would Álvaro Rodríguez get off the bench?
There was excitement when Álvaro Rodríguez was named in Real Madrid’s squad list, as the 18-year-old Castilla forward is highly rated and had done well at the U20 South American Championship. Ancelotti even stated pre-game that the young striker would have been given a first-team call-up sooner, had it not been for the fact he was away with the Uruguay youth team. We still didn’t know, though, if he would get any game time against Osasuna, and it even looked like his opportunity might have been taken away from him, as he was about to come on in the 78th minute but was then told to sit back down on the bench after Valverde’s opener. Ancelotti did then finally introduce Rodríguez in the 88th minute and he made an immediate impact, unselfishly setting up Vinícius for the goal that was disallowed for offside and then winning the ball back and assisting a goal that did count as he set up Asensio.
1. Will Álvaro Rodríguez play more games for the first team this season?
So, with Álvaro Rodríguez making such an impact, the question now is: will he play more games for the first team this season? Ancelotti was asked precisely that in his post-match press conference and he replied: “I’m convinced he’ll help us over the rest of the season. We have to evaluate with Raúl if he spends more time with us.” It would be great if he can earn more opportunities with Ancelotti’s squad over these coming months, but you don’t want to see him miss out on Castilla minutes if it’s just to sit on the first-team bench. Hopefully he can combine playing for both teams, which should be possible given the good working relationship between Ancelotti and Raúl.
2. Should Osasuna have been down to 10 men after five minutes?
Real Madrid got the job done, but it wasn’t easy. It might have been a lot easier, though, had Lucas Torró been sent off in the fifth minute, when he planted his studs on Camavinga’s ankle. It didn’t look intentional, but it was a reckless challenge and the kind that probably would have brought out a red had it taken place near the end of the game. A red card tackle should receive a red card no matter when it takes place, though, whether it’s in the fifth minute of the 85th minute.
3. Is the Fede-Vini combo the most lethal in football?
Quite amazingly, the goal in last season’s Champions League final was the first ever time that either Fede Valverde or Vinícius had assisted a goal for the other. Since then, though, they’ve combined six more times, including for the opening goal tonight when the Brazilian teed up the Uruguayan. There were also Vinícius assists for Valverde this season against Celta Vigo and RB Leipzig, while Valverde assisted the forward against Celtic twice and against Girona. They have an innate understanding of each other and are becoming one of the most lethal attacking combos in the sport.