Following a 4-1 win earlier in the season, Real Madrid always expected this return clash to be a walk in the park, and the Spanish champions turned on the style as they put five past minnows Cornellà. The Offside Rule’s La Liga correspondent Rhiannon Jones looks back on the action.
The formality of a second leg tie against a third tier side in the early rounds of the Copa del Rey is usually enough to leave even the most passionate Madridista feeling a little flat, and I will admit I was struggling to find content for the preview of the clash. So it was welcome news to fans and journalists alike when, in his press conference ahead of the game, Carlo Ancelotti announced the Santiago Bernabeu would see the return of Jesé Rodríguez.
And we could not have hoped for a better comeback. The 21-year-old marked his return with a goal, the fifth of the night, in front of a delighted home crowd –
the same crowd who 259 days previously had watched in horror as Jesé was stretchered off with a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee, just minutes into the Champions League round of 16 tie against Schalke.
Little surprise then, that the youngster was given a standing ovation when he wrapped up Real Madrid’s 5-0 win over Cornellà after more than eight months of long and frustrating recovery.
The fans had their hero back and the journalists their headline. I say hero because Madridistas do love a homegrown star. And this youth academy product had already proved his star quality before his impressive campaign was cut short last season.
But how will Jesé fit back into a hugely talented squad, a team making history? A question I asked the youngster after his return on Tuesday: “I’m going to help as much as possible. I’ll do whatever the coach asks of me.”
It may seem a rather simple response from the man from Gran Canaria, but really, that is all the young talent has to do.
The beauty of Jesé as a player, on top of being an incredible talent at such a young age, is his versatility. He can play anywhere in the forward line, on either wing, as a main striker or just behind. He has enough quality to be decisive wherever he is used.
So it is now up to Carlo Ancelotti how he uses him. During his time at Real Madrid, the Whites’ coach has had to improvise many a time given injuries, departures… and comebacks. He has always come up with an innovative system that works. He will have a plan for Jesé, and Jesé, no doubt, will deliver.