A great display of attitude from Isco and Asensio
We're all so excited about Sunday's Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors (representatives from both clubs' supporters groups paid a visit to the newsroom here at AS yesterday by the way) that Madrid's Cup tie with Melilla served up an appetizing taster of what's to come this weekend. It turned out to be an entertaining match with the crowd in good spirits (helped by slashing ticket prices to affordable levels) and Solari gave us the chance to see a few more promising players from the academy – as well as those who form part of the second string in which both Asensio and Isco, previous first choices, have suddenly found themselves. Now they form part of a group who have to earn their place. Both of them were excellent yesterday, in terms of their game and effectiveness.
‘Say it with flowers’ was a well-known slogan used to sell flowers on Valentines’ Day; ‘Say it with goals’, (Solari will understand that) would be more appropriate for Asensio and Isco, who both got on the scoresheet to crown their impressive performances. They looked involved and optimistic - especially Isco. I’m not suggesting that their performances, in game which Madrid has well under control, means they deserve more merits but it does show that they are willing. It’s as though they realize they have to start afresh from the bottom, battling for a place with the other players who are starting to emerge. The message they put out yesterday was, ‘We’re here is you need us’. And that’s exactly how to respond to being dropped – with hard work and good football.
Everyone is keen to see more of Vinicius and he didn’t disappoint. He did a few good things during the game but gave the impression that he’s struggled to find the net. And Mariano was unlucky – he didn’t really get into the game, didn’t score and was taken off after feeling a twinge. As for the rest, all of them were up to scratch (Keylor made a couple of decent saves) and Melilla, who started well but faded as each goal went in, at least grabbed a consolation goal. The scorer was Yacine Qasmi, a player who came through the youth ranks at PSG; he tucked away a penalty which he won himself. Yacine, Isco and Asensio were the star performers on a day which Fran García and Fidalgo, making their Madrid debuts, will remember forever.