3 Real Madrid players making the most out of Copa del Rey opportunities

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard, Isco (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard, Isco (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Andriy Lunin, Real Madrid (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images )
Andriy Lunin, Real Madrid (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images ) /

Real Madrid didn’t make it look easy against Elche in the Round of 16 stages of the Copa del Rey. They had to come from behind to beat Elche 1-2 within extra time. However, the story unfolded brilliantly in the end and it was another signature Real Madrid comeback with uncharacteristic heroes in Dani Ceballos, Isco, and Eden Hazard doing the job for Madrid.

The Copa has always been a competition where bench players get their chances against weaker defenses and Real Madrid did play a very different XI to their first-choice lineup in the top flight. We previously listed the players who would be expected to get their chances in the competition. This is thus an analysis after two matches where the so-called ‘weaker’ opposition factor comes to an end. Thus far, which Real Madrid players have made the most of the opportunities they got in the Copa del Rey?

3. GK Andriy Lunin

Real Madrid was drawn alongside Athletic Club for the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey and keeping in mind how demanding of an opposition Los Leones can be; if Andriy Lunin starts in goal for Los Blancos is a big question. Had our quarterfinal opponents been someone like Mallorca, Cadiz, or Rayo Vallecano there was a bigger chance for the Ukrainian shot-stopper to keep his place in the starting XI.

Lunin was ready to play in the quarterfinals, he has been terrific with his saves. In his first game against Alcoyano, he had to make three saves including one very tricky low-driven shot, per SofaScore. He also did a good job of punching out crosses and making high claims in the air. Comparatively, in the second game against Elche, his goal wasn’t attacked upon that much, but he was called to action twice in the first half and he got the better of Elche’s Guido Carrillo both times.

Although Lunin’s work with the gloves is very accurate and reliable, he needs to work extensively on his footwork. The early signs are good, the 22-year-old is high on confidence and that is reflected by the number of things he tries on the ball.

For example, he attempted an obnoxious amount of 20 long balls in the game against Alcoyano, he only completed four of them. He improved from that game to the game against Elche with his passing accuracy jumping from 26% to 85%. He was arguably better with his foot against Elche and things like the pitch size and better positioning of players helped the Ukrainian secure his passes in this one. Still, there’s a long way to go and he does seem like a promising option for the future.