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Will Asensio and Ceballos stay at Real Madrid? LaLiga could be key

With Real Madrid’s league title hopes all but over, Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos could have a vital role to play in keeping others fresh for Europe and the Copa del Rey.

With Real Madrid’s league title hopes all but over, Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos could have a vital role to play in keeping others fresh for Europe and the Copa del Rey.

In Sunday’s Clásico against Barcelona, the introduction of Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos provided Real Madrid with an immediate energy boost. As was also the case in previous games, the pair had a major impact on Los Blancos’ display in the closing stages. Asensio almost gave Madrid the lead at the Camp Nou, only to see his close-range finish ruled out by the tightest of offside decisions. Ceballos, meanwhile, changed the dynamic of the midfield battle completely.

Should Asensio and Ceballos have got more Clásico game time?

Given the way Asensio and Ceballos performed, many are asking why they weren’t brought on earlier. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric had played the midweek Champions League win over Liverpool almost in its entirety - featuring for 84 and 82 minutes, respectively - and the two thirty-somethings showed clear signs of fatigue as a physical Clásico clash progressed.

Now, with the LaLiga title race as good as over, the remaining games in the league season look like being key to Asensio and Ceballos’ future. Both are out of contract in June, but have offered up evidence of why they should remain at the Bernabéu. In the LaLiga games to come, there are potential opportunities for the Spaniards to give other players a rest - and stake their claim for a place in next term’s squad.

See also:

Pair can play way back into Ancelotti’s good books in LaLiga

In January’s Copa del Rey tie against Villarreal, Madrid were 2-0 down before the Spanish and European champions’ head coach, Carlo Ancelotti, threw Asensio and Ceballos on in the second half. They proved integral to Madrid’s comeback at the Estadio de la Cerámica, and went on to be given much more regular game time in the games that followed. However, that came to an end after Madrid’s 1-0 LaLiga loss to Real Mallorca in early February - a defeat in which Asensio and Ceballos both started.

Asensio missed a penalty in Madrid's defeat to Mallorca.
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Asensio missed a penalty in Madrid's defeat to Mallorca.JAIME REINAAFP

Asensio, Ceballos given limited roles after Mallorca reverse

Since then, Asensio has made Ancelotti’s line-up in only two of the six games he’s been involved in, although - as we saw in Madrid’s top-flight victory over Espanyol 10 days ago - he continues to show a good eye for goal. When it comes to Ceballos, it’s a similar situation: the midfielder has only been a starter in three out of 10 matches. He was an unused substitute in the Copa Clásico at the start of March, and got just 25 minutes off the bench in the goalless league draw with Real Betis three days later - a special game for him, given his past with Los Verdiblancos. In his last two Madrid run-outs - against Espanyol and Barça - he’s been restricted to just 15 minutes apiece.

Now, with just a couple of months to go this season, there is still time for Asensio and Ceballos to turn things around. Ancelotti is going to need them, after all. Another Champions League tie is coming up, against Chelsea on 12 and 18 April, and Madrid also face Barça in the second leg of the Copa semi-finals next month. Given their exertions throughout the season, the likes of Kroos and Modric are crying out for a breather in the LaLiga games surrounding those crunch clashes. Madrid need to make the most of the fresh legs they have in their squad, and Asensio and Ceballos are two men who could be brought into the side to great effect - as long as they perform as they have when coming off the bench…

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