Casemiro absence crucial in cup loss

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

From showcasing the tightest defence in Europe’s top five leagues to conceding four goals and crashing out of the Copa del Rey at home against Real Sociedad.

Real Madrid’s in-form defence came crashing back down to earth with a heavy quarter-final loss in the Copa del Rey against La Real, with late goals from Rodrygo and Nacho flattering Zinedine Zidane’s men in a 3-4 home reverse against their Basque visitors.

Alexander Isak was the architect for La Real, scoring twice and setting up two more goals in a match largely controlled by the visitors until the final 15 minutes.

Zidane opted to make changes to the side the edged out Atlético Madrid in Saturday’s derby victory, with Alphonse Areola keeping his place in goal for cup matches, while Nacho, Eder Militao and Marcelo came in to the Blancos’ back four.

While there was nothing perfect about the performance of the back four collectively, it was the absence of Casemiro, rested from the squad completely, which allowed La Real run riot.

Without protection, players such as Isak and on-loan Martin Odegaard, who scored the opener against his parent club, were allowed plenty of time to cut open the Madrid defence and Militao and Ramos failed to cope.

Fede Valverde has been a revelation this season and although he did not have a bad game, he did not offer the same protection and leadership of the backline as Casemiro has so far this season. Nor was the Uruguayan allowed to power forward ion the absence of another holding midfielder.

The Brazilian has been arguably Madrid’s best player so far this season and will likely play the remainder of the matches in the league and Champions League given his importance to the team.

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