Previous
France
Croatia
4
2
FT
Match 64
Game Details
Belgium
England
2
0
FT
Match 63
Game Details
Next

Transfer Talk: Bale, Alderweireld to Man United?

Transfer Talk
Read

Ronaldo's need for love, respect pushed him to Juve

Cristiano Ronaldo
Read

Ronaldo enjoys break in Greece as Juve talk continues

Toe Poke
Read

Kovacic needs to leave Real to get career back on track

Real Madrid
Read

Excited Juventus fans print Ronaldo shirts already

The Toe Poke
Read

A Ronaldo exit could pave the way for Asensio's reign

Real Madrid
Read

Cristiano Ronaldo swapping Real for Juventus? Not so fast

Cristiano Ronaldo
Read

Borja Mayoral, Theo Hernandez repay Zinedine Zidane's faith for Real Madrid

This was a classic "trap" game. Real Madrid traveled to San Sebastian to face high-flying Real Sociedad without Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema, Mateo Kovacic and Cristiano Ronaldo. Spotting your opponents four starters and your most reliable reserve midfielder is not fun. Many expected Zinedine Zidane to conjure up some formation with Gareth Bale or Marco Asensio playing through the middle; instead, he put his faith in a 20-year-old, Borja Mayoral, who had seen just 14 minutes on the pitch before Saturday.

But Mayoral is something the others aren't. He's a genuine center-forward who makes a center-forward's movements on the pitch. And, while comparisons to Alvaro Morata may be premature, he had a Morata-type game. He opened the scoring and then, after Kevin Rodrigues' stunning equalizer, forced the own goal that gave Madrid the lead before a brilliant Bale run made it 3-1.

It was a bold show of faith from Zidane and one that was vindicated -- just as his trust in Theo Hernandez as an understudy to Marcelo has been amply rewarded. The teenage left-back's running battle with the outstanding Alvaro Odriozola was one of the game's more intriguing sub-texts. The usual suspects -- Luka Modric, Isco and Asensio -- were their usual selves in what was a pulsating game against a quality side brilliantly coached by Eusebio. The fact that Bale, after being booed last week, turned in a high-energy performance that took him all over the pitch is an added bonus.

Barcelona are still four points clear but Madrid are lying in wait. That game, incidentally, marked the 73rd match in a row in which they've scored at least a goal, matching a world record set by Pele's Santos in the early 1960s. (Nope, I had no idea such a record existed either...).

And, perhaps best of all, the cavalry is on its way: Ronaldo's suspension is over.

Click here to read more of Marcotti's thoughts on what occurred in European football over the previous week.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.