Real Madrid were eliminated from the Copa del Rey after drawing 2-2 at Celta Vigo. Zinedine Zidane's team needed to win by two goals in order to make the semifinal round, but they fell short in a rainy, tough evening in Galicia. With the starting lineup hit by injuries, Zidane improvised a team that never worked the way it was meant to, struggling to keep Celta at bay and creating few chances to score. Now Real Madrid need to recover their upbeat mood of December, as the Champions League's round of 16 is just around the corner.
Madrid had chances to go through until the final whistle, although that is surprising after what we saw in Vigo. Cristiano Ronaldo still keeps his scoring touch taking free kicks. Mateo Kovacic moved often and well, and Kiko Casilla proved again that he's an extremely reliable goalkeeper. The elimination reduces the chances of the current sequence of injuries growing even more, obviously a very minor consolation.
The team never had the match under control and gave Vigo plenty of chances to put the tie to bed much earlier. Toni Kroos should have led most offensive moves, but his teammates did not find him or the German did not look for the ball as much as he should have. The injury plague can't be covered by the squad's depth anymore, as Zidane has almost run out of options, especially at the back. At their current shape, the offensive duo of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo intimidates far more on paper than on the pitch.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- His make-do starting lineup did not really work. Casemiro, at the centre of the defence, was sorely missed in midfield, as were more physical players such as Lucas Vazquez or Alvaro Morata. Isco and Marco Asensio are not the kind of players for a rainy night in Vigo, especially in a do-or-die match, but it took the French manager too much time to react to this, and by the time he did, it was too late. The fact that Karim Benzema played the full match is puzzling after his performance and bodes poorly for Zidane's theoretical meritocracy.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kiko Casilla, 8 -- Impressive match by Casilla, who made quite a few excellent saves and could not help Danilo's poor luck or his defence's lazy performance on Celta's second goal.
DF Danilo, 2 -- For a fair rating, his terrible luck scoring Celta's opener in his own goal should not be taken into account. However, his poor rating is due to a number of reasons: extremely late reaction to track back on that same play, his careless passing, his surreal positioning for most of the match and his ill-advised decision-making.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- Seemed to have the right motivation and pushed the team forward. Had the chance to make it 2-1 on one of his trademark headers, but missed by inches.
DF Casemiro, 6 -- In a new position in the centre of the defence, he influenced the match much less than usual. He looked like an OK centre-back, but he's a fantastic defensive midfielder. His absence was felt in the middle of the pitch.
DF Nacho Fernandez, 6 -- Fine at the back in a left full-back position until he mistimed a tackle and missed the ball in the run-up to Celta's first. Despite that play, a solid performance on a woeful night for the team.
MF Isco, 5 -- Never seemed to find the right spot to exert control over the match. He suffers with heavy pitches and rain, and this evening was no different.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 7 -- Some of his runs brought inspiration and speed to an otherwise static, dull Real Madrid offense.
MF Toni Kroos, 6 -- The German moved the ball well and showed his crossing skills, although not often enough. His teammates seem to forget to play with him when the going gets tough, and that is something he must change.
MF Marco Asensio, 5 -- Uninspired, he did not live up to his promise of pinpoint passes and maze runs.
FW Karim Benzema, 3 -- The Frenchman's most influential plays only came in the final five minutes, after the previous 85 went by in a succession of lazy moves, misplaced passes and dispossessions by Celta's defence. It's inexplicable how he was not replaced when Lucas Vazquez and Alvaro Morata started on the bench.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 6 -- Unlucky not to have scored in the first half and responsible for a fantastic free kick that brought hope to the Real Madrid faithful. His contribution in open play was seldom positive. Three plays that could have changed the outcome of this fixture ended up in half-hearted, unsuccessful dribble attempts by the Portuguese.