RCD Espanyol visited non-league CD Rincón in the first round of the Copa del Rey, winning 3-0 in a match that ended in both clubs down to ten men. The match was played at Malaga CF’s La Rosaleda in the region where Rincón plays its football. Espanyol dominated possession (67%) and slowly broke down Rincón despite getting red carded first, and once Rincón was shown theirs, Espanyol really got going. Espanyol’s most well-known prospect Nico Melamed had a nice through ball for a hockey assist in the box to begin scoring. He was the most creative threat on and off ball from his left winger position in his club’s 4-2-3-1. Not only that, but his dribbling ability really frustrated defenders all match. The main player who stood out for Rincón was ‘Mingui’ Alejandro Morales Márquez, an attacking midfielder who did well to draw fouls and skillfully dribble through midfield. The diminutive and promising 20-year-old was unfortunately forced off due to injury.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Spain
- Age: 17
- Date of birth: 03/02/2005
- Club: RCD Espanyol
- Career: RCD Espanyol
- Position: Right Center Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Keddari made his starting debut in senior football in this match and played well, helping his club to earn a clean sheet while playing the full 90 minutes. He is a tall and lanky presence at the back (some sources list him at 188 cm), and due to the lack of maturity in his frame, physicality often got the better of him although he did not shy away from contact. Keddari showed high confidence and energy with his body language and worked hard on defense, too, so when he made mistakes, he was not far behind to make up for them. Keddari also showed some pace and movement skills in this match despite some clumsiness—an example being when he got tangled up tracking an aerial duel and was fortunate not to be called for a foul.
On defense, Keddari was not too busy. The tall center back put in a decent performance in his first start, displaying good awareness and positioning in the back line. His technique was also admirable when putting a foot in for a stand tackle. His angles when tracking back in transition were also good, he was able to slow transition or force a bad pass out of play. Keddari also made a couple interceptions in transition and used his head a few times, too. His headers were not too accurate, but he got good contact each time. Meanwhile, on one interception he made a mistake collecting the ball, but was fortunate in a relentless push for the ball to win the ball completely and deliver a back pass. Another interception started a potential transition play right before Rincón’s red card. Overall, he made some mistakes but held his own at the back in a clean sheet.
The teenager was a calm yet energetic presence on the ball. He did not face much pressure but always made the right decision with the pass with patience. Keddari put the right weight on the ball when distributing from to all levels. His distribution included mostly short passes and a couple intermediate passes from deep in midfield to an advanced player on the right wing, one resulting in a near hockey assist. Keddari also had an accurate long cross to the left wing by the edge of the box that was controlled well. He only used his right foot to pass but was comfortable dribbling with both. Keddari was mostly defensive-minded but displayed what he can bring as a ball-playing defender as he continues to grow.
Rating – A2
Although Keddari was part of a clean sheet and is only 17 years old playing senior football, the competition he was facing seemed too low for the mistakes he made. Along with this, his activity was not high enough on defense for me to give him an A1 based off just this performance. His performance was still impressive for his age, Keddari seemed to just need some more time for his body to mature and to polish his technique. The clumsiness he displayed at times needs to be ironed out before he can be a consistent senior player, as the holes he in his game would be exploited quite easily in La Liga at current level.
Omar El Hilali
- Nationality: Morocco
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 12/09/2003
- Club: RCD Espanyol
- Career: CF Santa Eulalia (Y), RCD Espanyol
- Position: Right Back
- Secondary Position: Left Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Omar El Hilali had a good match playing out of position at left back. He signed with the first team from Espanyol’s academy over the summer and has five appearances in La Liga already. El Hilali is a natural right-footed right back with an offensive-minded play style. The 183 cm tall full back has an average build and showed some great pace down the left.
On defense, El Hilali tracked back quickly from his very advanced position on the attack, showcasing his great recovery speed. He won a header in transition, too to stop the break and clear. In another aerial duel, El Hilali won an interception and that stopped Rincón’s transition opportunity, as well. The full back also displayed good positioning and angles when marking and recovering, respectively. When pressing forward, he used his physicality to overwhelm and once forced a long back pass into his opponent’s own third and another time pressed against the end line and trapped then blocked the pass. In his defensive duties, El Hilali was admirable in contributing the clean sheet effort.
Offensively, he was positioned wide left and advanced, making mainly overlapping runs and then inverting to get the ball on his preferred right. On one move early on, he got hit with a pass and continued cutting inside for an open shot, but it was easily saved. On crosses and plays in the box, he mainly stayed on the edge for support. His dribbling ability was nice with both feet and showed some skill, while he gained more comfortability distributing with his weaker left as the game went along. El Hilali had a few accurate crosses with his left that were either saved on the shot or cleared for a corner. He mainly crossed with his right, though, and most of his distribution was accurate under pressure or without. His range went from short to intermediate to long without quality wavering much. El Hilali was also a very confident ball carrier, and his pace helped him dribble past defenders easily.
Rating – A1
El Hilali had a nice performance out of position and flashed impressive ability on offense. His defense needs some work, but he contributed well to the clean sheet and seemed comfortable playing with and against senior players. Despite the play quality not being so high and playing out of position, El Hilali performed well above most others on the pitch, and I can see why he is already getting La Liga minutes. His athleticism and offensive traits make him a promising attacking full back to keep an eye on as the season continues.