For Real Madrid, this was not just a victory against a side fighting and struggling to avoid relegation. This has been a disastrous campaign for the Los Blancos, who have no chances of winning any silverware this season. They have sacked two managers so far and have turned to a man who helped achieve unprecedented feats; Zidane. This was his first match as Real Madrid supremo since returning and his boys, some of them who had been on the fringes during Solari‘s reign, stepped up to ensure a 2-0 victory.
This felt like the beginning of something new and refreshing. Players whose future had seemed elsewhere played brilliantly and delivered the goods. Not that this win would help them claw their way back into the title race – it seems highly improbable now, close to being impossible.
Real Madrid were not at their prime in the first-half. It needed a brilliant save from Keylor Navas to prevent the visitors from scoring. Navas was untested for the most part, but this save really proved why he deserves to be chosen ahead of Courtois. A top-quality save and a quick reaction to a powerful header as he tipped it over the bar.
The player Real Madrid fans hate the most shines
Bale, a player who the majority of fans wanted to be sold, delivered a brilliant performance for his side. The Welshman elbowed a Celta defender in the first half and was lucky not be awarded a red card. Nevertheless, he was impressive, consistently creating problems for the opposition. At times, he switched flanks with Asensio and dropped deeper to support the defence. Bale made three tackles and sent in five crosses for the Los Vikingos.
The 29-year-old had an effort go against the woodwork in the first half but eventually scored the winner in the 77th minute. The Wales international had three shots, two of those on target. He also produced one key pass and a dribble during the match. Bale passed the ball 43 times with an accuracy of 81.4%.
Marcelo and Isco, back in the starting lineup, display class
It was obvious that Marcelo and Isco would benefit from Solari’s departure. Both players had lost their respective positions in the starting lineup. However, Zidane included both in his starting 11 and the boys duly delivered the result.
Marcelo, as he does usually, played higher up the pitch and contributed actively to Real Madrid’s attack. He troubled the visitors down the left flank. He has been criticised for not performing his defensive duties. Here he was not tested much but the left-back made one tackle.
Marcelo was one of the most active contributors to Real Madrid’s attack. He once again displayed the temerity to breach into Celta Vigo’s defensive third. The left-back produced one shot which forced their goalkeeper to make a good save. He also played two key passes and achieved three dribbles.
The 30-year-old made 52 passes with 78.9% accuracy. He produced six crosses with three of them accurate and seven long balls but only three reached their intended destination. Marcelo was rewarded for his fantastic performance when he assisted Gareth Bale for Real Madrid’s winner.
Meanwhile, Isco made his return to the starting XI by scoring Real Madrid’s opener. He made 36 passes and only one pass was misplaced. The 26-year-old midfielder had four efforts on goal and played three key passes before he was replaced by Dani Ceballos in the 66th minute.
He put in a great performance and it was fitting that Isco scored Real Madrid’s opener, after all those months warming the bench.
Let’s not forget Asensio and Benzema
With three shots and two key passes, 23-year-old Asensio dazzled for Real Madrid on the flanks. He dribbled past the Celta defence four times, crossed the ball thrice and played two long balls during the match.
Asensio was a delight to watch, especially when he masterminded Real’s first goal. He dribbled past multiple defenders before passing the ball to Benzema, whose pass was tapped in by Isco.
Benzema was also amazing for Real Madrid. Their most underrated player, the Frenchman, had four shots, two of them on target. He made one cross, played two long balls and also assisted Isco’s goal.
This victory may not have any big impacts on the points table but this was much-needed. The game witnessed the return of some players who were crucial for Real Madrid in their unprecedented Champions League dominance. Although it remains to be seen how Zidane’s man-management skills will come to the fore.
After the game, Zidane insisted he hasn’t yet chosen his number one goalkeeper; it remains a problem Zidane needs to solve. In Courtois and Navas, he has two world-class shot-stoppers. Reports in the past clearly suggest Zidane had backed Navas amid criticisms. However, this felt like the beginning of something new and the hope is Zidane will make Real Madrid dominant again.
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