Real Madrid fell to their seventh defeat of this LaLiga season in San Sebastián as Real Sociedad emerged the victors with a 2-0 win at the Reale Arena.
After a tense first half, a rotated Real Madrid team went down courtesy of an Éder Militão mistake and a superbly taken goal by Take Kubo. Dani Carvajal was then sent off and Ander Barrenetxea doubled the home team’s lead late on, beating Thibaut Courtois at his near post.
Here are three stats that help to explain the game.
1,049: Minutes between appearances for Castilla players
When Álvaro Rodríguez came on as a 59th minute substitute against Real Sociedad, it was a first appearance from a canterano since he played six minutes against Espanyol on March 11th. Since then, 1,049 minutes had passed without a single youth team player making an appearance.
During that time, the likes of Eden Hazard, Mariano Díaz, Jesús Vallejo and Álvaro Odriozola have all been given game time. It’s been a surprising choice from Carlo Ancelotti, particularly given how heavily he has relied on some players like Karim Benzema, and has not always brought about the best results. Some young impetus could have changed that.
Can't believe Mariano of all people got the chance to start ahead of Arribas, Paz or Alvaro.— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) May 2, 2023
However, there is also the argument that he is doing it to protect Castilla’s promotion hopes. Raúl González’s team are in the chase for promotion from Primera RFEF to Segunda this season, sitting one point behind leaders Alcorcón with four games to go, and avoiding calling upon the youngsters at the weekend enables them to be free to play for Castilla. It’s a matter of priorities, but perhaps still surprising that these players haven’t had more of a shot in midweek rounds.
What’s more, 31 minutes for Álvaro in San Sebastián was his longest continued stint on the field with the first team yet. He was joined later on by Sergio Arribas, who replaced Marco Asensio, but Nico Paz will be made to wait for his first team debut.
1: First time Dani Carvajal has ever been sent off for two yellow cards
Dani Carvajal walking a disciplinary tightrope is nothing new, but this time he fell foul of the law as Juan Luis Pulido Santana showed him two yellow cards, the first for dissent and the second for a poor tackle on Aihen Muñoz.
This was only his third career sending off, coming after one against Barcelona in a 3-0 defeat in 2017, and only one other, a 0-0 draw against Getafe B with Castilla in 2011. Both of those occasions saw the right-back shown a straight red card.
In picking up two yellow cards, these were Carvajal’s eighth and ninth bookings of the campaign, taking his tally to four in his last six matches in all competitions. It’s a worrying trend from a player who has previously struggled at the business end of the season to maintain his fitness levels.
It was also a brave call from Pulido Santana in what was his first match in charge of Real Madrid as an away team. His only previous game in command with Los Blancos was the 6-0 win over Valladolid in early April, where he did not show a card to a single Real Madrid player. Previously, he had led three matches involving Castilla, with one win and two defeats, including a red card in 2010 for Gary Kagelmacher.
1993: The last time Real Madrid lost before a Copa del Rey final
With one eye already on Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Osasuna, it seemed that Carlo Ancelotti’s team selection may well have been influenced by the occasion on the horizon. With LaLiga title hopes already long gone, Los Blancos clearly prioritised the Copa and made changes to their side to reflect that, though it ended in defeat.
The last time Real Madrid went into a Copa del Rey final off the back of a defeat was in 1992/93, when Tenerife won 2-0 on the final day of the season in the Canary Islands, shortly before Real Madrid beat Real Zaragoza 2-0 at Mestalla.
That defeat in LaLiga before the big occasion hurt much more as it gave Barcelona the title, losing the lead in the league after three matchdays in first place. If Benito Floro could get a reaction after that loss, Ancelotti will be hoping to do the same in Seville this weekend.