Real Madrid vs Espanyol: 6 Things We Learned
Going into Tuesday's second leg Copa del Rey encounter against Espanyol, Real Madrid had a slender 1-0 lead which they gained last week at the Cornella-El Prat stadium.
Javier Aguirre's team are poor on the road but could take heart from faring well in their previous two meetings with Madrid.
Aguirre's contract is unlikely to be renewed this summer, but a reverse against one of the top sides would certainly be a good advertisement.
Here are six things we learned from the Copa del Rey clash:
Jese Is a Dream for Xabi Alonso
From just inside Real Madrid's half, the deep-lying playmaker let one of those Hollywood passes through to Jese to open the scoring.
The ball inside of Joan Capdevilla was taken perfectly in Jese's stride before he dispatched it past Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Left-back Capdevilla is 36 years old next month and not the quickest, but his lack of pace looked even worse when trying to mark the youngster.
A Good Audition for Kiko Casilla at the Bernabeu
Madrid newspaper Marca claims that the Espanyol goalkeeper is a summer target for the club, via Football Espana.
The thinking is that either Iker Casillas or Diego Lopez will potentially leave because of their quality of equal standing, but surely the highly-rated Casilla would confuse matters further both in name and technique.
Casilla is already 50 percent owned by Real Madrid, so a deal to bring him to the Bernabeu shouldn't be too hard.
Perhaps he could have covered the post a bit better against Jese's strike, though he did make a number of important blocks to deny Cristiano Ronaldo and continually dived at the feet of the attackers.
Iker Casillas Is the World's Best No. 2
The team has not conceded in eight matches, but Casillas' record alone stands at 682 minutes without a goal against him, a club record.
As the captain, he has been fantastic given his awkward position.
The Copa del Rey matches in quick succession have aided his form with the Champions League returning in a few weeks, even if he had little to do here.
If he isn't restored as the No. 1 in the summer, then he will know it is time to move on with London the likeliest destination.
Isco as a 'False 9' Needs Work
It's not the young Spaniard's fault, but at times he looked a little lost in the unorthodox role.
As a natural No. 10, he is comfortable when counter-attacking—he just needs to learn when to drop into the midfield and when to breach the opposing defence.
When Isco rushed things, he gave away possession needlessly, though he did draw a number of fouls when shielding the ball.
He certainly has the attributes to play the position: vision, movement, first touch, good finisher and awareness.
Di Maria Growing into Central Midfield Role
As part of a midfield three, the Argentine is a work in progress, though he is showing signs that he is here to stay in the position.
He works back, is patient in possession and, as he has shown in previous matches, he offers a goal threat with his shooting ability and late runs into the box.
When Ronaldo cuts inside, Di Maria drifts out to the left which gives the team balance and width.
Bet on 1-0 Next Time the Sides Meet
That's now three consecutive matches where 1-0 has been this scoreline between the teams.
On all three occasions, Real Madrid have been victorious.
Los Blancos peppered Espanyol's goal with chances, whilst the team from Catalonia created very few, but still the games had a tight finish.