Real Madrid vs. Cordoba: Winners and Losers from La Liga Game

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2014

Real Madrid vs. Cordoba: Winners and Losers from La Liga Game

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Real Madrid got their 2014-15 La Liga campaign off to a winning start as they beat newly promoted Cordoba by a 2-0 scoreline.

    Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo scored the goals as the European champions got up and running, but it was far from a vintage performance, and they were never really sure of the three points until the second goal came in the last minute of the match.

    Here are all our winners and losers from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Winner: Iker Casillas

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    It might have been expected that Keylor Navas could be Real Madrid's league goalkeeper, with Iker Casillas having featured in the Super Cup matches, but Iker got the nod against Cordoba too.

    We'll make him a winner in that regard—but his performance left plenty to be desired and he'll know improvements are imperative.

    This would have been an opportunity he had waited for over a long period, being the league No. 2 last season.

    Casillas missed a corner which he came for in the first half but made a few routine stops after the break as Cordoba came forward later in the game. A missed punch from a cross near the end almost proved costly.

Loser: Alvaro Arbeloa

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Alvaro Arbeloa started the match for Real at right-back but was given a torrid time by diagonal balls toward Havenaar, who outmuscled the full-back and showed good movement around him. Arbeloa was undone one against one more than once, too.

    Aleks Pantic did well in getting forward down that flank and Arbeloa simply didn't do enough to really stop the infrequent Cordoba threat.

    He was subbed after the hour mark for Dani Carvajal.

Winner: Toni Kroos

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Toni Kroos came in for his La Liga debut for Real Madrid and strolled around midfield as though he owned the pitch.

    Spreading play in every direction with composure, precision and reliability, Kroos was excellent in making space for himself and exploiting the gaps between Cordoba's compact but very deep midfield line.

    He delivered an excellent corner for the opening goal and in the second half was industrious, conscientious about his defensive work and continued to set his attacking team-mates free from deep when possible. An excellent display.

Loser: James Rodriguez

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    James Rodriguez was another of Real's summer signings to start in midfield, but the Colombian didn't really have any major impact on the game.

    Other than a fleeting five minutes after the break when he got a couple of shots away, one on target, one off, he wasn't a final third threat and only intermittently managed to link up impressively with his front three team-mates.

    It will take a little while for James to settle, perhaps, and Isco replaced him off the bench.

Winner: Mike Havenaar

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Cordoba didn't offer a huge offensive threat, but Mike Havenaar was an excellent outlet for them and shouldered much of the responsibility himself.

    The new signing dragged Real's defenders all over the show, showed great technique on the turn and almost scored in the first half from a header.

    Havenaar played just over an hour on his La Liga debut and, though he didn't score, showed more than enough to trouble Real and suggest he'll be a big asset for Cordoba throughout the season.

Winner? Carlo Ancelotti

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    The Real Madrid boss got the three points and, on the opening day, perhaps that's all that matters.

    He will know better than anybody, however, that this was nowhere near a good enough performance, and that against a side with better options in the final third, Real Madrid might easily have only taken a single point from this match.

    He has the stars, he has the experience, now Ancelotti needs to mould that into a title-winning side which performs far better, very quickly.