Real Madrid: Vinicius gives Solari plenty of food for thought
Big wins are always therapeutic, and Real Madrid got one last night. Yes, it was against third-tier opposition, but a thrashing is a thrashing (for me, that means a minimum of four goals; I don't like seeing 3-0 victories described as such) and, ahead of the challenges to come, it'll have done Los Blancos good. Santiago Solari left a few regulars behind and picked Vinicius, who may not have got on the scoresheet but gave an excellent account of himself. His good work to set up Marco Asensio for the visitors' second - with a piece of play characteristic of the 18-year-old - had a crucial influence on the match: Melilla went in for the break deflated by the goal, which as good as settled the tie. Later, the Brazilian also had a hand in the third, conjuring up a moment of skill in the build-up. He did well.
After initially pushing Real Madrid, Melilla were well beaten in the end
Vinicius' self-assurance and ability to do the unexpected were perhaps what most stood out on a comfortable evening for Madrid, one that saw Melilla fade as the game progressed. The better sides are better in every department - strength, stamina and spirit included. And this final quality is merely reinforced if, as usually happens, they get themselves ahead. Melilla gave Madrid a run for their money for half an hour or so, albeit without much end product, but then found it steadily tougher going, and were ultimately well beaten. They conceded right at the end of each half, when they were running out of steam and keen for the release of the referee's whistle. Unlike their hosts, however, Madrid pushed all the harder at these points. That's why they triumphed by the margin they did.
I'd like to see Vinicius get a decent run in the Madrid first team
But coming back to Vinicius, who'll get plenty of attention in the coming days: Is the youngster ready to start for Madrid? He has things which others don't, but what we don't yet know is whether he can bring them to bear on Spanish top-flight football to the same extent. LaLiga isn't the same as Brazil, where it's essentially a mix of those players who are still too young to have gone to Europe, and those old enough to have come back. Segunda B is a far cry from Primera, too. But in a side languishing in ninth in the league and very much in the doldrums, one in which a (good) few seem to take their starting spot for granted and feel under precious little pressure to justify it out on the pitch, I'd like to see Vinicius get a decent run. Even if it only serves to give Asensio and Gareth Bale a kick up the backside.