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Atlético-Real Madrid: Dani Ceballos deserves derby start

Atlético-Real Madrid: Dani Ceballos deserves derby start

I don't remember anyone calling for caution when Jorge Valdano handed Raúl González Blanco his Real Madrid debut at the age of 17, or when Fernando Torres was given his bow for Atlético Madrid at the same age. At 19, Iker Casillas had already won his first Champions League. Isco was 21 when he led Málaga to within seconds of the semi-finals in Europe's top club competition. And Sergio Ramos had established himself as a fixture at the back for Real by the time he was 20...

Come on, Zizou: loosen the leash on Ceballos!

Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane continues to treat Dani Ceballos with kid gloves, as if the 21-year-old were still not ready or something. He's ripping it up: just look at his virtuoso display in Spain Under-21s' thrashing of Slovakia on Tuesday - that hat-trick will live long in the memory. Or his performance for Real against Deportivo Alavés. That afternoon in Vitoria has left him on double the amount of LaLiga goals that either Karim Benzema or Cristiano Ronaldo have scored this term...

Ceballos grabbed a hat-trick for Spain Under-21s this midweek.

Were Ceballos to start on Saturday, it'd only be fair

I'm not doubting how good Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are. They've both been key men in the trophy successes of recent years. But let's not forget: at Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, you're only as good as your last game. This season, Kroos and Modric have fallen well short of their usual high standards. The World Cup is on the horizon and, perhaps with one eye on Russia, they don't seem to be firing on all cylinders. Ceballos is hungry, has nothing to lose and has talent to burn. Were he to start in the derby on Saturday, it would be no flight of fancy; it would be fully merited.

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