Marco Asensio scored as Real Madrid beat Getafe 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, with the team’s mind firmly on Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal second leg at Manchester City.
The best chance of a quiet first half saw Getafe goalkeeper David Soria save well in a one-on-one with Federico Valverde, who was then flagged offside by the assistant referee.
After the break, Getafe forward Borja Mayoral headed over the bar and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept out Juan Iglesias’ long-range shot before Asensio put Madrid ahead from distance. Substitute Vinicius Junior thought he’d added a second, only for his goal to also be ruled offside.
1. Ancelotti rests key players as Champions League becomes Real Madrid’s priority
A glance at the Real Madrid starting XI for this game made it abundantly clear where coach Carlo Ancelotti’s priorities lie. With the LaLiga season all but over — Madrid kicked off 14 points behind leaders Barcelona, who’ll be confirmed as champions with a win on Sunday — it’s all about the Champions League.
Consequently, Ancelotti made eight changes to the side that drew 1-1 here with Manchester City on Tuesday. There was no place in the squad for Karim Benzema, Rodrygo Goes, David Alaba or Dani Carvajal, while Vinicius Junior, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Antonio Rudiger all started on the bench.
The message was: no injuries, please. And, given Madrid’s strength in depth, this was still a team that should have had more than enough to best relegation candidates Getafe. A midfield of Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos would be the envy of most teams in Europe, let alone LaLiga.
Instead, there was little rhythm, enthusiasm or energy to Madrid’s performance. The second-half introduction of Kroos, Modric and Vinicius helped, and Asensio’s goal gave the team a narrow win.
An apparent late knee injury to Camavinga might have some Real Madrid fans wishing Ancelotti had been even more conservative in his approach if it turns out to be enough to prevent Camavinga from playing against Man City.
2. Militao and Mendy audition for roles against Man City
Both Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy missed Madrid’s draw with Man City in midweek. Centre-back Militao was suspended, while left-back Mendy hadn’t yet recovered from the calf muscle injury that had kept him out since March. In their absence, Antonio Rudiger and Eduardo Camavinga were arguably Madrid’s two best players against City. Rudiger even managed to keep Erling Haaland quiet.
And so this was one last chance for Militao and Mendy to convince Ancelotti that they deserve a place in the team at the Etihad stadium.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & more (U.S.)
– Read on ESPN+: Revisiting transfer grades (Haaland gets better)
Mendy’s audition lasted just 45 minutes, his return being carefully managed. He did little wrong but didn’t exactly catch the eye either.
Camavinga — who switched to left-back when Mendy went off, before being substituted himself — is likely to keep his place against City, unless his late withdrawal due to apparent injury here proves to be more serious than feared.
Militao was better, though, more than once showcasing his ability to carry the ball out from the back. The Brazil international is a favourite of Ancelotti’s, and leaving him out — despite Rudiger’s impressive display in midweek — will be a much tougher call.
3. Hazard is a shadow of his former self
It’s sad to see Eden Hazard like this. Once the Premier League’s best player, Hazard has now been reduced to cameo appearances for Real Madrid in games that don’t matter very much. And he’s not even able to influence those.
This was Hazard’s first LaLiga start since September, and his second all season. He has scored once this campaign, against Celtic in the Champions League group stage. Those numbers are comfortably the worst of his four disappointing seasons at Real Madrid. Ancelotti was convinced earlier in the season that Hazard might prove a useful backup for Benzema, as a false 9. It hasn’t happened.
Against Getafe, Hazard was picked on the left-wing, once his favoured position. The drop-off in quality from Vinicius was startling. Hazard’s first half was anonymous, much like the rest of the Real Madrid team. Early in the second half, he cut inside from the left — in just the kind of position from which he once did so much damage — only to fire a wildly overhit pass at Asensio.
With an hour played, he picked up the ball just outside the Getafe box, won a free kick, and was promptly substituted to whistles from the crowd. It was another night to forget. And the worst news of all: he’s still got a year left on his contract.
Best and worst performers
Best: Marco Asensio, Real Madrid
Always offers the chance of a goal with his shots from distance.
Best: Aurelien Tchouameni, Real Madrid
Dominated midfield in a performance reminiscent of his start to the season.
Best: Eder Militao, Real Madrid
Comfortable at the back, and gave Ancelotti something to think about ahead of the City game.
Worst: Eden Hazard, Real Madrid
Was very, very quiet on a rare start.
Worst: Jaime Mata, Getafe
Offered little in attack and was substituted early.
Worst: Borja Mayoral, Getafe
Headed their best chance over the bar.
Highlights and notable moments
Real Madrid opened with a dismal first half — it was almost as if they knew this game wasn’t nearly as important as the one they will be playing in four days’ time in the UEFA Champions League.
But in the 70th minute, Real Madrid did the expected, courtesy of Marco Asensio, and pulled ahead over Getafe.
GOLAZO FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX BY ASENSIO 🎯 pic.twitter.com/RcAs0kIVvY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 13, 2023
After the match: What the managers and players said
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Mendy’s return: “Our quality improved [with the substitutes]. And our intensity. We have the good news about Mendy, who is back from a serious injury. He had a good first half … [His substitution] was a precaution, we wanted to give him 45 minutes. He’s available for Wednesday.”
Ancelotti on Camavinga coming off for injury: “He twisted his knee, but it’s just a knock. Tomorrow he’ll rest like everyone who played and I hope that on Monday he trains with the team. He’ll recover soon for sure. The knee is stable, he has some discomfort now, but the important thing is the stability and he has that 100%. He has some discomfort in the knee but it’s nothing.”
Ancelotti on whether fielding key players like Camavinga was a risk: “You’re always playing with fire in this job. What can I do? I picked a competitive team so nobody can complain that we gave an advantage to other teams in the relegation battle. Those who were tired, like [Karim] Benzema and [David] Alaba, didn’t play. We’ll have everyone available for Wednesday.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
Marco Asensio registered his 20th goal contribution in all competitions this season, his most in a single season with Real Madrid. His 12 goals in all club competitions this season is tied for his most in a single season for Real Madrid (2021-22)
Real Madrid touched the ball just three times in Getafe’s box in the first half, their lowest half-time tally in a LaLiga home game since December 2012 (two vs. Atlético Madrid).
Real Madrid: It’s a big one for Los Blancos: they head to Manchester to face City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal on Wednesday, May 17. Then Real Madrid visit Valencia in LaLiga on Sunday, May 21 (watch live on ESPN+ at 12:30 p.m. ET).
Getafe: Azulones host Elche in LaLiga on Saturday, May 20 (watch live on ESPN+ at 12:30 p.m. ET).