Elche CF was up against Real Madrid in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. Nicknamed the Los Franjiverdes, they came to the match with a coronavirus crisis, with 6 players affected and out. In this match, Elche set up in a 4-4-2 formation, whilst changing their formation a few times when defending or moving forward. When the ball is in play, Elche tries to build from the back but was poorly executed due to their players losing the ball in their own half, or there were not many players providing passing options to progress. Many times when they can’t build up, they would opt out to go long but were easily dealt with by Real Madrid. Elche played well and created goalscoring opportunities in the first half, coming close to equalizing after a big chance missed by Guido Carillo. Real Madrid dominated the 2nd half and went on to win and progress through the quarter-finals.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Spanish/Nigerian
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 30/08/2000
- Club: Elche CF
- Career: FC Villareal C, Elche CF
- Position: Centre Midfield
- Secondary position: Centre Back
- Preferred foot: Right
John Chetauya Nwankwo Donald played as the right centre-back in this match against Real Madrid. Due to the coronavirus crisis, he was called upon to his first start of the 2021/2022 season. The defender builds up as the right centre-back in a 3-man build-up, with his fullback often pushing up to the midfield line. John had an underrated night as he was one of Elche’s best performing players as he defended well and reduced Madrid players’ attempts at goal. Standing at 1.85 metres with a normal build, John looks strong and makes his presence known to Madrid’s players. He often makes blocks or closes down the opponent to deny space thus winning the ball. John was man-marking Luka Jovic for most parts of the game and would proactively try to intercept the ball before Jovic receives the pass. Sometimes he tries to step in too soon, which left space behind him exposed. However, the defender has a good recovery pace and manages to close down Jovic. Against better technical players, I think John might struggle as their quick feet and clever thinking would easily fool John as it happened once with Jovic.
John may need to understand more of his position, as he would leave a huge gap between his right back and left centre back. Transfermarkt indicated John’s main position is central midfielder, which may be a reason for his lack of understanding as a centre-back. The defender was fortunate that the gap he had with his teammates was not exposed too much as Madrid’s players were slow to exploit the space. Impressively, John’s positioning when dealing with crosses is very good. He prevented and cleared many crosses as he was positioned in the right place most of the time.
The defender does look fairly conservative. He tends to play it back to his keeper and his centre-back partner or play it horizontally to his right back. There were a few occasions where teammates of his were asking for the ball in midfield but John decides to pass it around the back. It might come to a confidence issue as it was his first start since 2020/2021 because he has the capabilities to carry the ball closer to the midfield and pass it through the lines. He has good passing accuracy and technique in short passes and possesses a good long ball too to evade Madrid’s first line of press. One thing I noticed about John is his body language when receiving the ball. Upon receiving a pass, John’s body shows stiffness and stagnant, which might be a reason why he’s unable to position himself forward and pass it vertically.
Ratings – B2
John Donald showed a good performance in this match and displayed solidness in defending. However, I’m not convinced with him when progressing and building up as he showed little risk in trying to carry the ball forward and passing through the lines. He has shown in this match a few times that he’s able to do it, but needs to do it confidently and consistently to elevate his level.