Another Day, Another Record
It seems that Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid has become accustomed to breaking records as last night was the first time in the club’s 112+ year history that 10 consecutive wins in the Copa del Rey were achieved. The run started vs Xativa in the 2nd Leg of the First Copa del Rey Round last season, and continued through the tournament till the first 2 Legs of this season’s First Round. Adding to that was the fact that Real Madrid have now extended the record of most consecutive wins by the club to an astonishing 17 wins. And keeping up with the record-per-game mantra, Real Madrid can match yet another record 3 days from now when they host Celta Vigo in the 14th round of this season’s La Liga. That record of course is the most consecutive wins in all competitions by a Spanish club in history, currently held by Barcelona and it stands at 18 wins. With the upcoming 2 games coming at the Santiago Bernabeu against relatively lower-risk opponents, few would bet against Ancelotti’s Real Madrid matching then breaking Barcelona’s record.
Ancelotti fielded possible the weakest line-up Real Madrid have seen this season and he was totally justified as some key Real Madrid players have be run down to the ground with the amount of games they have played in recent months. The line-up saw 3rd goalkeeper Pacheco make his first full team debut (keeping a clean sheet too) while fringe defenders like Nacho and Arbeloa were used as well. James and Isco were not rested however, much to the dismay of Cornella, as Isco and James directly contributed to 4 of Real Madrid’s goals last night. Chicharito also started and came close a couple of time but in the end had to leave with just an assist (an amazing one too). The midfield trio of Khedira, Illarra, and Medran was perhaps the brightest point (aside from the James-Isco wrecking force) as they were calm, collected, and sharp. Khedira unfortunately suffered a knock and couldn’t finish while James and Varane were subbed in the second half to allow youth-team regulars like Llorente and Munoz a chance at some first-team action. In the end, Cornella posed very little threat as Real Madrid finished the night with 63% possession and 14 shots (to Cornella’s 2).
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Even though this match saw Real Madrid achieve their very first 10-match winning streak in the Copa del Rey in history and a record-extending 17th win in all competitions; the headline and/or source of joy to most Madridistas was seeing the return of Jese Rodriguez. Jese last played a competitive match 260 days ago as he tore his ACL vs Schalke in mid March and has been sidelined this past 8 and a half months. Jese started the game slow and a bit hesitant but that’s a normal thing to see from a player who has been out for such a long period of time, however he regained his composure quickly and managed to get involved more frequently in the run of play. He sealed his return with the night’s 5th and final goal (from an Isco assist) from the right flank. Putting emotional feelings aside, Carlo Ancelotti will be more than happy to see Jese return as Real Madrid near the extremely demanding months of January and February. His return might spark a welcome selection headache for Ancelotti given that James has played every single match this season and is bound to need rest.
Man of the Match: Isco
It was hard not to pick James Rodriguez seeing as how he scored 2 goals and assisted another in just over 60 minutes but if you watched last night’s match you would understand how Isco was the Man of the Match. The Spanish youngster was in game-mode through out the whole match and displayed wide array of skills that ranged from tracking back to win possession to delivering key passes from all positions on the pitch. The most impressive thing however is the fact that he had 126 touches of the ball last night, by far the most of any player on the pitch and the most he has accomplished since he joined Real Madrid last season. What perhaps sums up Isco’s night was the fact that nearly everything Real Madrid did came though him.