It may have had little riding on the game following a 4-0 first leg win in October, but Real Madrid secured progress in the Copa del Rey to the last 16 by seeing off Segunda Division B group leaders UD Melilla with a 6-1 win on Thursday. There were braces for Isco and Marco Asensio with goals for Javi Sanchez and Vinicius Junior. Here, our tactical analysis will use statistics to identify what key points Real Madrid can take from the game as they secured a win at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Vinicius Junior is on the bench for a reason
A goal and an assist. Yet Vinicius Junior should still be disappointed with his performance. The Brazilian had plenty of the ball, an incredible 14 touches in the box, but never capitalised on it. With an incredible xG of 2.2, he underscored significantly and was beyond wasteful in front of goal. Even when he did score, he took two attempts and was lucky that it deflected into the back of the net off a flailing leg from the Melilla goalkeeper. To then perform a dance to celebrate merely added to the concern that Vinicius may not yet be ready for first team action, as he has seen his involvement plummet under Solari.
The Brazilian showed pace and skill, though sometimes too much of the latter as his tricks went wrong and ended in humiliation, which added a threat. There is no doubting that Vinicius has talent, but it remains very raw. Getting the best out of that talent could be what makes or breaks Solari as a coach. What’s more, it could be decisive to the future of Real Madrid for the next decade.
Isco showed why he is indispensable
With two goals whilst donning the captain’s armband, Spain international Isco showed why Santiago Solari cannot afford to ignore him, as he did when leaving him out against Roma. In total, he added a season-high of five shot assists to match his season high of 0.96 xG, including a wonder goal from the edge of the box straight into the top corner. This was just his first start under the reign of Solari and it is hard to argue that he didn’t do enough to earn another crack at the whip in a more competitive fixture.
Isco was at the heart of everything that Real Madrid produced. In reality, he was the one man who was clearly a level above anybody else on the pitch. A leader in name with his armband, but even more was a leader in how he performed. If Solari was looking for a reaction from the former Malaga man, he most certainly got it.
Mariano’s form is a concern
Every striker comes and goes through form and it’s evident that Mariano is yet to match up to the form that he promised with his goal against Roma as a substitute on his second debut for Real Madrid. Yet, what was more concerning for Real Madrid on Thursday was his decision making in his all-round play, rather than just his finishing in front of goal, where he still had plenty of chances with an xG of 0.65, though it was the lowest of the attacking men on the field.
On several occasions, Mariano would be fed the ball to hold up or break on the counter but would almost always make the wrong decision. At one point, he twice took the ball into a crowd when surrounded by space and team-mates exploiting it. It was frustrating to watch, particularly given the similarities to his display against Roma when he would take men on with explosive pace and beat them before shooting. Whether it is a lack of game time or a lack of confidence, Mariano is far from the top of his game.
The fixture was little more than a dead rubber in truth and Solari can be very pleased with how many of his youngsters performed. They have certainly given him some decisions to make as rotations increase ahead of the winter break. With the likes of Fran Garcia and Alvaro Hidalgo joining the action in addition to Javi Sanchez finding the back of the net, it was a big day for many young players who could build the future of Real Madrid.
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