The big news from Real Madrid on Wednesday may have been Florentino Pérez’s last interview, but there was also real football, the team went to Cádiz and won 3-0, all the goals coming in the first half. It was a game with a lot of interesting discussion points, several of which are discussed below in the form of three questions that were answered and three questions that need to be answered.
1. Which of Nacho or Varane would replace Chust?
Earlier this year, when Sergio Ramos was injured for the first time, Real Madrid’s central defensive partnership became Nacho and Raphaël Varane. Both players returned to the team for this trip to Cádiz, after missing on Sunday due to the suspension and COVID-19, respectively. So who would replace Víctor Chust and partner Éder Militão? Because, of course, Militão’s performance was so good that it was impenetrable. Well, the answer was that they would both replace Chust. Zidane returned to the three central defenders for this game and it worked. Not only did Thibaut Courtois finally enjoy a quiet game, but because he allowed Marcelo and Álvaro Odriozola to make a big impact on the wings.
2. Would Carvajal make his return?
Dani Carvajal is back on the team for this game, so the big question was whether and how much he would play. Well, he came in the last half hour, when the score was already 3-0 and when Real Madrid cruised. Carvajal was pretty good and completed 32 of the 33 passes, but only once he gave the ball led to a chance Cadiz. It is normal for a player to make a mistake or two when he returns after so long. Remember, Carvajal had not played since February 14 and, even then, was only making a comeback after injury. This was the perfect way for him to regain the clarity of the match, doing so by entering a game already won.
3. Would we have a meeting of brothers?
Nacho’s brother, Álex Fernández, plays for Cádiz and would have fought against his brother in this game. Well, apart from the fact that an injury ruled him out of the wing of this game the day before. It would have been great to see Nacho fight Álex in this, as they did in the first meeting of this season, but it wasn’t this time.
1. What does the future hold for Antonio Blanco?
Antonio Blanco got his first start, played in the middle of the center with Casemiro and gave all 90 minutes. That was after he was given the last 25 minutes against Getafe on Sunday, after all the 90 minutes for Castilla were played on Saturday. It was certainly a busy few days for Blanco, but he lived up to expectations. He brought energy to this game against Cádiz and confidence, even trying a long-range shot in the first minutes that deflected into the corner. The worst thing a young man can do when he makes his first appearance at Real Madrid is to let the game pass them by, to wait for things to happen to them. Blanco didn’t do that. He came out and was proactive, making things happen for him. Now, we have to ask ourselves what the future holds. He will turn 21 this summer, so maybe a promotion to the first team 2021/22 would be too premature. Then again, it could be a zero-cost option to support a slim position.
2. When will we still see five Brazilians together in the group?
An interesting oddity in this game was that five Brazilians started at Real Madrid: Éder Militão, Marcelo, Casemiro, Rodrygo and Vinícius. This had not happened for 15 years, not since the 2005/06 season when Cicinho, Roberto Carlos, Júlio Baptista, Robinho and Ronaldo played together. So how long will we wait until we have five Brazilians together in the group again? Not another 15 years I do not think. Not if Juni Calafat continues to have an influence on the club’s transfer objectives.
3. What will this goal do for Odriozola’s trust?
Álvaro Odriozola scored what was only his second goal for Real Madrid, his first in LaLiga for the club after scoring only in the Copa del Rey for Los Blancos – vs Melilla in 2018/19. This could be a really important psychological goal for the Basque. He didn’t have fun at Real Madrid, but a goal always builds confidence. Importantly, the goal also justifies the fact that Odriozola has come a long way in recent appearances. Odriozola probably shouldn’t have been in the six-yard box, but it has paid off and helped justify his next forays. And that’s significant, because he will definitely have a few big minutes to play before the end of the season, because Carvajal won’t be able to play 90 minutes twice a week every week between now and the end of the season.