Spanish giants Real Madrid eased past the Napoli challenge with a commanding 4-2 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on UEFA Champions League Matchday five on Wednesday evening. They secured Round of 16 qualifications with a 100% win record so far this season in the competition.
Los Blancos advanced to the knockout stage with Jude Bellingham shining on his return from injury against Napoli. The new prodigy Nico Paz, a Real Madrid Castilla talent, announced his arrival in the first team in style, earning praise from boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Who is Nico Paz?
Nicolás Paz Martínez, known as Nico Paz, is a 19-year-old player born on the Spanish island of Tenerife in 2004. He joined the Real Madrid youth academy in 2017, making the move from his boyhood club CD Tenerife Youth with the aspiration to play for Los Blancos.
The teenage midfielder, born in Spain holds dual nationality from Argentina and subsequently chose to represent his South American roots. Paz has been called up by Javier Mascherano for the Argentina U20 national team and has made 8 appearances in the Albiceleste colors.
Martinez’s father was a professional player who played as a defender, making 89 appearances in the Spanish top division. Thus, football runs in his family. While he initially tried to imitate his father’s position, he quickly transitioned into a forward role, which is his best-suited for his physique and skill.
The Argentine international is a versatile outfield player who can occupy multiple positions, predominantly on the wings as a wide midfielder, in the creative number ten role, or even upfront as a center forward at times. He is among those highly rated by Castilla coach and former club icon Raul González in Real Madrid Castilla.
Carlo Ancelotti hails Nico Paz
The Castilla star came off the bench in the second half against Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday evening. With this, Nico Paz marked his fourth appearance in Real Madrid’s senior team under the renowned Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti, delivering a sensational performance.
Post-match, Ancelotti lavished praise on the youngster’s performance, stating, “Nico Páz has helped the team. It was a special night for him. Trust me, he’s a player for the future of Real Madrid. He has all the qualities needed to play here for many years.”
The 19-year-old emerged as the difference-maker on the big occasion in only his second UCL appearance. His stunning left-footed strike from a distance gave his side the lead in the 84th minute before Joselu sealed the win by netting the fourth goal for the Blancos.
The record 14-time Champions League winners Los Blancos march towards the knockout stage aiming to lift their 15th UCL title this season.