Real Madrid booked their place in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals as they cruised past Real Zaragoza 4-0.
The away side unsurprisingly went ahead early on. Toni Kroos’ short corner was drilled across the six yard box, and Frenchman Raphael Varane fired the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Federico Valverde missed a golden opportunity to double Madrid’s lead, ballooning his shot well over the bar from inside the penalty area, after finding himself in acres of space. Shortly afterwards, Lucas Vazquez rectified his teammate’s mistake, as he cooly volleyed the ball past
During an uneventful beginning to the second half, Shinji Kagawa came closest for the home side. The ball fell to the Japanese international on the edge of the penalty area, but he just lifted his effort narrowly over the bar with his left foot.
Vinicius Junior killed the tie off in the 72nd minute, as he played a neat one-two with James Rodriguez before lifting the ball over the helpless
Key Talking Point
Although Zaragoza will have seen this as a potential opportunity to cause a huge upset, their main priority lies in the league. There were plenty of positives to take from the performance however, as they gave the current La Liga leaders a good game for the most part, but fitness became an issue. They were only stopped by the quality and athleticism of Madrid’s defence and goalkeeper, on their rather frequent counter-attacks.
The home side’s league position will be far more important than a cup run, as they are building up momentum and presenting a clear shout for promotion.
Ratón (6); Delmas (5), Grippo (5), Atienza (5), Clemente (4); Kagawa (6), Igbekeme (6), Eguaras (5), Soro (6); Linares (6), Pereira (6)
Subs: Parejo (5), Blanco (6), Suarez (6)
The midfielder set up most of Zaragoza’s break-aways in the first half, although he fell silent in the second. His energy in the middle protected the back four, but eventually tired as the game wore on. Although his side conceded four, he was the shining light in what looked like a dim performance, especially as the match neared its finale.
However, the scoreline could have been a lot more embarrassing for the home side had he not been in the engine room. His pace helped cut-up Madrid’s attacks and set his own side away, but dwindled towards the end.
Key Talking Point
Madrid have just reached the summit of the La Liga table, and will be pleased that they are on their way to another Copa del Rey quarter final. Although they were the heavy favourites heading into this fixture, they were without the services of top-scorer Karim Benzema for the majority of the tie, and Eden Hazard, and still managed to produce the goods.
Players such as Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic, who have not had many opportunities in the first team, delivered very respectable performances. For Zinedine Zidane, it will be very reassuring that he can depend on his back-up players to provide when called upon.
Areola (7); Carvajal (7), Varane (9), Ramos (7), Marcelo (8); Rodríguez (7), Kroos (7), Valverde (7); Vazquez (8), Jovic (7), Vinicius Júnior (8).
Subs: Benzema (8), Nacho (6), Diaz (7).
The Frenchman had a superb game for Los Blancos. He nullified the opposition counter-attack, and even scored down the other end. His pace was a great nullifier of Zaragoza’s pace-driven forward play, and his composed head on the ball allowed his team to build from the back.
Although his effort was from close range, Varane did well to find space and evade his marker. Not only did he score, but he acted as a threat from set-pieces at all times, as well as setting Madrid on their way with counter-attacks, just as he has been doing all season.
Zaragoza head to table-toppers Cadiz in the Segunda Division, as they look to build on their promotion push back u?p to the La Liga. They then host Fuenlabrada, who sit just below them in the table.
Real Madrid host rivals Atletico Madrid in a crucial match at the top of La Liga, with the home side looking to bring their recent form into the local derby. Los Blancos then travel to Osasuna, who sit in 10th place.