Real Madrid fans hold their players to the highest possible standard, but there are some players on their own team who they seem to underestimate. That was the case recently, as two players who rarely start and were seen as liabilities have outperformed expectations.
First, Dani Ceballos. Earlier in the season, Carlo Ancelotti said that Ceballos would be important to the team in the second half of the season. Many Madridistas laughed at the manager, but these last couple of weeks, Ceballos has proven very useful.
After a standout performance against Osasuna, Ceballos was stunningly good in the 4-0 win over Espanyol, bossing the midfield with world-class talent. It was the best version of Ceballos we had seen, as he was excellent at winning the ball, progressing the ball, keeping possession for Madrid, and carrying the ball out of sticky situations.
Ceballos has been the most impressive out-of-nowhere standout, but perhaps the most positive surprise has been a teammate who waited almost the whole season for an opportunity to start – a teammate who was the butt of even more jokes than Ceballos.
Jesus Vallejo reminded people why he was once highly-rated
Jesus Vallejo was the unwanted man this summer. Nobody really even wanted to sign him on loan, having failed miserably at Wolves and Granada, then earning the meme treatment for an error in the Olympics.
But how quickly do we forget. Vallejo was once a top center back prospect for Real Madrid and had an incredible loan spell with Eintracht Frankfurt, earning a high reputation in the Bundesliga as an astute, composed, high-upside defender.
Injuries derailed Vallejo’s career, and he surely could not have been high on confidence after Wolves gave up on him so quickly.
So the 2021/22 season was his chance to return to Real Madrid, believe in himself, and take everyone by surprise. Madridistas were nervous when Vallejo was forced into starting due to injuries and suspensions, but Vallejo ended up being a standout performer against Espanyol and one of the best strikers in LaLiga, former Real Madrid prospect Raul de Tomas.
Just as Ceballos proved everyone wrong, Vallejo did on a smaller scale. But whereas Ceballos had some supporters and previous spells at Real Betis and Arsenal, Vallejo had no real track record – and his work with Eintracht was even less familiar to Madridistas.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Real Champs team!
Real Madrid fans can sometimes underestimate the quality a player needs to have to even get here in the first place. Ceballos has shown he is good enough to be a part of Madrid’s future. While it is presumptuous to say the same about Vallejo, he did show that he is not completely out of place in LaLiga, which seemed to be the narrative coming into the season with no clubs interested.
It’s amazing how much one opportunity can change the narrative. Now, Vallejo can always say he helped Real Madrid keep a clean sheet en route to clinching a title!