Real Madrid: Ferocious Mariano and elegant Enzo impress
Mariano Díaz steals the show with hat-trick
Those at the Bernabéu on Wednesday - and, given both kick-off time and ticket prices were right, that amounted to more than 40,000 - had an enjoyable evening. As I noted after the first leg, this tie reminded me of the friendlies held in the 60s to keep fringe players sharp, speed up injury returns and give promising youth products a chance. The man of the match was Mariano Díaz, a ferocious attacking predator. He had six shots and scored three goals. Once he's let off the leash, he'll be a fine top-flight striker; who knows, perhaps more than that. But he's got a job getting a game at Real Madrid with Karim Benzema and Álvaro Morata ahead of him in his position, not to mention the now reconverted Cristiano Ronaldo.
He refuses to give in, though. He's had opportunities to go to the likes of Sevilla and Villarreal, but preferred to stay put. In Madrid's youth ranks he had to fight tooth and nail, too. He always began as a sub (behind Raúl de Tomás, behind Borja Mayoral...) but ended up bringing his qualities to bear: two good feet, great aerial ability, terrific movement and a fanatical obsession with scoring goals. He's not sparkling in his all-round play, much like Jean-Pierre Papin, with whom I see similarities. But, like Papin, he has that valuable knack of finding the net. It's a pity not to see him week in, week out at one of the clubs that wanted to take him on loan. But he has such faith in himself that he opted to take his chances at Real.
Enzo Zidane also shines at the Bernabéu
The other headline-maker was Enzo Zidane, who came on at the break and looked good, as he had in the Trofeo Bernabéu. His style is lovely to watch; you can readily imagine the pride felt by his father, from whom he's inherited more than one trait: his posture and striding gait, his close control, the elegance and variety of the resources in his locker. A certain aloofness of demeanour, too, which Zidane Sr offset with dazzling class. I don't know if Enzo will reach his level, but he served up glimpses that rolled back the years, and got a nice goal. He was next in line for man of the match. Martin Odegaard is progressing bit by bit, but his easy-on-the-eye way of playing remains too short-range. And James? He failed to stand out among all the young pretenders. He could have done more to impress.
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