Talented young French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga has come under heavy criticism for his performances during games in which he has started this season, but against Athletic Club, he proved he can cut it in a deeper role.
With Toni Kroos on the bench and Aurelien Tchouameni injured, Carlo Ancelotti trusted Camavinga as the lone pivot alongside Fede Valverde and Dani Ceballos.
It was a bold choice that came up trumps for the Italian, as Real Madrid managed just their fourth clean sheet of the La Liga season.
"I want to highlight the work of Eduardo Camavinga in particular," Ancelotti said after the match.
" Camavinga is showing his best version playing as a midfielder, giving energy and dynamism to the team. He recovered five balls in the first half and as many in the second. With the ball he doesn’t offer the calmness of Kroos, but in electric games like the one in San Mames, his pace helps the team a lot," wrote Juan-Ignacio Garcia Ochoa in Marca.
Meanwhile in Diario AS, Carlos Forjanes also had plenty of praise for the Frenchman.
"Tactically dominant, solid, putting his foot in without going too far, and acting as a third central defender in overwhelming situations. And it was not from Tchouameni, the designated successor, but from an outsider, Camavinga."
Camavinga put in a number of good statistics too, as Real Madrid managed to survive the onslaught from Athletic Club.
Having an alternative to Tchouameni would allow Ancelotti to avoid moving Toni Kroos further back whenever the former Monaco man is absent. It is well-documented that Kroos prefers not to play as a pivot, and it generally makes the Real Madrid midfield easier to deal with.