Real Madrid went into the international break on a run of four consecutive draws, and were under pressure to get three points at the Estadio Benito Villamarin on Saturday night.
“I’m not a magician,” Zinedine Zidane said in his press conference prior to the match. Adding onto the lackluster performances were injuries to Casemiro, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, and James Rodriguez. It seemed like the Frenchman would, indeed, need to perform some type of magic to get a result.
He put out the best team available to him, and the players wasted no time getting down to business. Right from the first minute, there was a hunger and focus about the squad that they had lacked in their previous matches.
The first goal came within four minutes of kickoff, as Raphael Varane headed in a perfect cross from Toni Kroos. The German international later played provider again, setting up Karim Benzema for the second goal of the night. Marcelo turned in a deflected shot for the third, and Isco finished off a brilliant counter attack just before halftime to make it 4-0. Betis got one goal back in the second half, but that was all they could salvage. Isco scored a wonderful goal for Madrid’s fifth, and Cristiano Ronaldo finished off the scoring in the 79th minute.
This was exactly the type of result the team needed to ease some pressure and silence their critics. The whole team was outstanding, with Isco being the man of the match. He was the star of a nearly faultless midfield trio, which included Mateo Kovacic and Toni Kroos. They stepped up big in the absence of Casemiro and Modric.
Zidane spoke after the match, saying “Our first half was spectacular. All the players were phenomenal in showing the right intensity at the start.” He also said that playing the way they did from the start is not easy, but that “the idea is to play all our games like we did today.” No one expects them to put six past every opponent they play, but the fans demand this sort of intensity from the players every week. When Real Madrid is playing like this, it’s hard to see anyone stopping them.
This result puts them back at the top of the table with Atletico Madrid, who defeated Granada 7-1 earlier in the day. Barcelona also won 4-0 against Deportivo la Coruna. However, Zidane says his side aren’t concerned with the results of other teams. “We’re only focused on what we’re doing.” That’s the right attitude to have. Given that they have a match every three days for the next three weeks, there isn’t much time to focus on anything but winning and playing well.
As Real Madrid host today Legia Warsaw fans at “La Capital” will be hoping for another magical performance.
By Amir Pirbazari (OPM, RMLA)