Real Madrid vs. Celta Vigo: Winners and Losers from La Liga

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2016

Real Madrid vs. Celta Vigo: Winners and Losers from La Liga

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    Real Madrid produced their best 45 minutes under manager Zinedine Zidane to tear Celta Vigo apart in the second half of their La Liga game on Saturday, ending up running riot in a 7-1 victory.

    After a cagey opening with chances at both ends, Iago Aspas struck the woodwork from close range, before Pepe headed Real ahead five minutes before the break—but it was the second half where Real really exerted their dominance. Cristiano Ronaldo scored four in a row to put the game well beyond reach for Celta, before Jese and Gareth Bale added solo strikes late on.

    Here are our biggest winners and losers from the match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Winner: Isco

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    Isco played just over an hour as part of Real Madrid's midfield trio and had a difficult start. He didn't get too involved going forward but grew into the match as it went on, and he was a big part of the reason for Real eventually streaking clear.

    His trickery on the ball was more frequently used as the game became stretched and spaces were more apparent, and he was involved in lots of Real's best build-up play after the half-time break in particular.

    Isco's runs into the area and clever passes into space were certainly on show on this occasion—but he must produce consistency now, not just one-off big displays.

Loser: Mateo Kovacic

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    Changes in the XI over the last couple of games have seen a few players get a chance at Real Madrid who have been squad players during the season as a whole, with Mateo Kovacic one to enjoy a start against Celta.

    The offensive midfielder showed movement to get into the final third, but he didn't really affect play in a particularly positive way, create many of the openings or even get involved in the best build-up phases from the victors.

    It was perhaps a show of faith from Zinedine Zidane that he left Kovacic on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes, but he was the least impressive of Real's midfield starters. Without Luka Modric or Toni Kroos on the pitch, it was a big opportunity for Kovacic to shine.

Winner: Casemiro

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    Holding together the base of the Real midfield was Casemiro, and the Brazilian was excellent in disrupting Celta's first-half counters, their attempts to overload in the channels and their hopes of getting onto knockdowns and second balls from attacking set pieces.

    He might not have the 40-yard killer passes that Kroos can provide on occasion—nor the set piece delivery—but his athleticism and aggression make him an obvious role-filler for Real Madrid that they too often lack.

    Casemiro played well both in a 4-3-3 and later in a 4-4-2, winning back the ball with regularity and being safe and secure with his passing.

Loser: Mallo, Gomez, Diaz

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    Celta Vigo's entire back four and midfield three went missing in the second half, but if it's to pinpoint anybody, it has to be the protective triangle right in front of goalkeeper Ruben Blanco, who was blameless for every goal.

    Hugo Mallo and Sergi Gomez is nowhere near a first-choice centre-back partnership for Celta, but even so, the way they disappeared after the break was astonishing. They did not hold a line, there was often a huge gap between them, which meant a full-back had to cover across, and they rarely won an aerial ball—a massive weak spot for the entire defence.

    In front of the back two, it was imperative that Marcelo Diaz and Co. used the ball well and protected the lightweight back line, but possession was gifted away too easily and frequently, and there was little tracking back once the first two or three Real goals went in. It was a very poor second 45 minutes.

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    The final word has to go to Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to the top of the goalscorers charts in La Liga with a four-goal haul.

    Having been whistled by the fans seconds earlier for an errant pass out of play, Ronaldo responded by smashing in a fantastic effort from range for 2-0, then added three, four and five with further memorable goals.

    He worked hard off the ball, showed great pace and direct running to trouble Celta's defence and, above all, of course, came up with two stunning goals of his own and two more to finish off team goals of differing kinds. He was the real difference-maker on the day.

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