While Cádiz may be flailing at the wrong end of LaLiga, this felt like a potential banana skin for Real Madrid after defeat in the south of Spain last season and an unconvincing 2-1 win in November. It took time, but Real Madrid did find a way through and ran out 2-0 victors.
Nacho was the man to score first on 72 minutes with an uncharacteristic effort from distance which seemed to catch everyone by surprise, while Marco Asensio found the same corner of the net four minutes later to double that lead.
Here are three stats that help us to understand the game.
35: Shots from Real Madrid
With 35 shots, Real Madrid managed one every 163 seconds at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla. It’s the highest number of any game this season in LaLiga, and overtakes the previous record of 29, which was also set by Real Madrid in games against Almería and Real Valladolid.
Given that the total xG reached 3.52, there was a significant underperformance, but in particular as the xG reached almost three before Nacho opened the scoring late on, it reflected a frustrated team who continued to bombard the Cádiz goal.
An incredible 12 shots were blocked by a Cádiz defence who were not afraid to drop deep in numbers, with 12 off target and 11 on target, including two which hit the woodwork and two which eventually beat Cádiz goalkeeper David Gil.
It also reflects where Real Madrid could perhaps be more effective in possession. For example, Aurélien Tchouaméni had six shots, three from outside the box, but hit the target with only one. The only two shots on target from midfielders in this game came from corners with the Frenchman and Dani Ceballos getting on the end of one each. But between the starting trio, there were 10 shots which didn’t find a spot between the three posts.
Not since 2021 in a very similar game against the same opponent, which ended 0-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, have Real Madrid registered so many shots, but it may not be as positive a sign as it may initially seem that the team continued to pepper shots at the Cádiz goal before finally finding a breakthrough.
16: Marco Asensio goal involvements this season
When Marco Asensio scored in the 78th minute to double Real Madrid’s lead only four minutes after Nacho broke the deadlock, it was Real Madrid’s 6,382 goal in LaLiga, overtaking Barcelona’s 6,381.
It was also his 10th goal of the season and his 16th goal involvement given his return of six assists, putting him only one behind 2017/18, his best season for Real Madrid with 17 goal involvements, and 2015/16, when he also reached 17 for Espanyol on loan, though 13 of those were assists.
That gives him a goal or assist every 92 minutes and 49 seconds this season. That’s a significant change from his rate of a goal or assist every 150 minutes and 43 seconds in 2021/22 and one every 290 minutes and 27 seconds in 2020/21.
With such a rate of improvement, it’s understandable to see why many are saying that Asensio is still adapting his game after his serious injury which kept him on the sidelines for so long. Given his contract situation, it’s a strong reason to consider offering him a new contract too.
Despite playing only 1,485 minutes this season, Asensio ranks fifth in the team’s scoring charts, behind Karim Benzema, Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo Goes and Fede Valverde. What puts his figures into perspective alongside four men who have all started ahead of him in the front line this season is that he has played less than half as many minutes as any of them.
114: Touches for Dani Ceballos, the most in the game
Despite an impressive run of form earlier this year, Dani Ceballos had almost vanished from the team sheet in recent weeks with this start against Cádiz only his second since February, following on from his starting role in the team that lost to Villarreal last weekend.
Selected to start in a much-changed midfield where Fede Valverde was the only man to keep his place from the three that played against Chelsea, Ceballos showed what he was capable of and was not afraid to take up a leading role and was heavily involved. With 114 touches, he had 15 more than any other player on the pitch and was the only man to reach three figures.
His 88 completed passes, from 92 attempts, gave him a 96% completion rate second only to Nacho, who attempted a third fewer passes with many of them being far less progressive.
Tchouaméni and Valverde claimed an assist each in this game, but it certainly felt as though Ceballos, who created one big chance with 0.14 expected assists, was the one pulling the strings in the middle.
He also performed well defensively, recovering possession more than anyone other than Antonio Rüdiger with nine recoveries, while only three players would win more than Ceballos’ five successful duels.