Real Madrid kicked off their Copa del Rey title defence in relatively comfortable fashion on Saturday evening as they defeated fourth-tier side Arandina CF 3-1. However, they were unable to find the breakthrough until the second half, which did raise some concerns.
This was despite a very promising first half performance from Arda Guler, who was making his long-awaited debut for Los Blancos. Having signed from Fenerbahce last summer, the Turkish teenager had been forced to wait to make his bow after a number of injury problems. However, it was worth the wait in the end.
As per Diario AS, Guler was comfortably Real Madrid’s best performer in the first half. During his 60-minute cameo, he registered 35 completed passes (out of 39, 90%), had three shots (one on target, one hitting the post), created three chances (including one big one for Nico Paz) and also made three recoveries.
It should be noted that it was only against lower-league opposition, but the signs are promising for Guler and Real Madrid, especially given how much better he looked than some of his teammates in the first half despite having very low match sharpness. However, expectations should certainly be managed for now.