Alvaro Odriozola stakes claim to more playing time under Santi Solari as Real Madrid cruise
Santiago Solari's first game as "temporary" Real Madrid manager brought a comfortable 4-0 victory in Wednesday's Copa del Rey round-of-32 first leg at third-tier Melilla, with goals from Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Alvaro Odriozola and Cristo Gonzalez securing passage to the next round already and providing a welcome boost for the Bernabeu outfit.
After a slow opening quarter hour, Solari's side took complete control, with young attackers Vinicius Junior and Asensio especially impressing, along with backup defenders Odriozola and Sergio Reguilon. A first clean sheet since September was also very welcome, as was no new additions to a lengthy injury list.
There were a couple of dodgy moments at the back early in either half, but generally this was a very welcome negative-free night for Madrid.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Solari's brave choice of an attacking XI containing seven players 23 or younger was rewarded with a convincing victory that can help start lift the gloom around the Bernabeu. Could not have gone much better, as the interim coach makes his bid for the job long term.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 6 -- Mostly dealt competently with the very little he had to do, although one reckless charge off his line -- possibly through boredom -- was almost punished midway through the second half.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 8 -- Young right-back who was underused under Julen Lopetegui showed his pace and composure in attack throughout, with pin-point crosses for Benzema's opener and Cristo's late header, while also being in the right place at right time to nab his first Madrid goal himself.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- The captain was one of just two senior players retained from Sunday's Clasico, played well within himself before being substituted at the break.
DF Javi Sanchez, 6 -- Castilla centre-back Javi Sanchez, 21, appears to have been following Ramos' career closely, as his first 17 minutes included a yellow card for going off his feet and a rash charge forward with the ball. But did not look out of place at all.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 7 -- Homegrown left-back, 21, impressed going forward on his second senior start, putting in a number of dangerous crosses, and almost scoring himself in moments before Odriozola netted.
MF Marcos Llorente, 6 -- Holding midfielder took a while to get to the pace of the game in first start of 2018-19, but kept the ball moving well and almost got on the scoresheet in second half with a low 20-yard effort.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 -- Survived an early scare when it seemed he had twisted a knee in the sodden turf, and took on playmaking role in second half, but this may be a missed chance to convince Solari he can step in and allow Luka Modric a rest at the weekend.
FW Marco Asensio, 8 -- Very influential in a very deep in a roving No. 10 role in the first half, finishing excellently to make it 2-0 for just his second goal of the season. Less noticeable when moved to centre-forward after the break, but the game was already won at that point.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 -- Regularly involved when the game was at 0-0 and played a key role in the buildup to the opening goal, but missed three clear chances once Madrid went ahead and did little to suggest he should play more regularly.
FW Karim Benzema, 6 -- The other senior player retained in the XI led the attack competently without ever fully exerting himself before being withdrawn at the break. A simple finish from two yards to open the scoring means he now has the same number of goals in all competitions this season -- seven -- as former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
FW Vinicius Junior, 8 -- Excellent first senior Madrid start for the €45 million teenager, in difficult conditions. Showed the expected nice skills but also impressive maturity and game intelligence, such as his assist for Asensio's goal. Inches from getting on the scoresheet himself with a 16-yard drive that rattled the crossbar in the second half and scuffed a shot that was probably heading in before Odriozola made sure.
DF Nacho, 6 -- Replaced Ramos as both centre-back and captain at the break, and was similarly comfortable as his team dominated.
MF Fede Valverde, 6 -- Twenty-year-old Uruguay senior international entered at the break and helped retain control of the midfield area, and looks ready for more playing time in the coming weeks.
FW Cristo Gonzalez, N/R -- Twenty-year-old Castilla youth teamer played the last 10 minutes in place of Asensio and will have been delighted with the header to wrap up the scoring late on.