Real Madrid Vs. Racing Santander, La Liga 2012 Recap: Madrid Cruises Past Racing

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 18: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Real Madrid celebrates with Pepe after scoring Real's opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Racing Club at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid finally finished this game against Racing Santander with a clean sheet. The team didn't need to put a very intense effort into this match, thanks to a sixth-minute goal scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. Jose Mourinho decided to play Varane as center back and Sergio Ramos in the right due to Arbeloa's absence.

The rest of the team was pretty much the usual, with Granero escorting Xabi Alonso and Özil, Kaká, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo upfront. Although the game wa over after Real Madrid's first goal, the team still managed to score three more--two by Karim Benzema and one by Ángel Di María, who returned to the team today.

There's not much to say about tonight's game. After Cristiano Ronaldo scored off a head-pass by Kaka, the team knew that they only needed one goal to keep Racing from scoring in the Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid players started to play very smart after they got ahead in the scoreboard. Granero and Xabi Alonso were moving the ball while Ronaldo, Benzema and Kaka moved well and created good scoring chances.

Raphäel Varane proved again that he is a very reliable center back as he matures. The French defender might even be ahead than Carvalho and Albiol in the third center back spot. He cost Real Madrid 10M€, but signing him was a good move.

Kaka and Özil didn't play at their best. Neither one was capable of making those decisive assists we've become accustomed to. Di María's recovery could be crucial for Real Madrid as the season advances, because he will give Mourinho another attacking option.

As the first half drew to a close, Benzema was able to chip the ball over Toño, but it is not clear whether Racing's defender pushed the ball inside--it could have been Sergio Ramos. The referee gave the goal to Benzema, however, and the team headed to the locker room with a comfortable 2-0 lead.

The game was clearly finished, but the players wanted to give the fans at the Bernabéu more of a reason to smile. Ángel Di María finally came back from his groin injury and scored a very appealing goal after his first shot of the game. The Argentinian winger dribbled to the middle of the field and shot the ball inside of Toño's goal.

Sami Khedira also came back from his injury and substituted for Esteban Granero. El Pirata is finally looking like he could be useful during Real Madrid's season as he becomes a part of the team's winning rhythm. He could be Xabi Alonso's replacement when the Basque player needs a rest, since Mourinho is not willing to rely on Nuri Sahin at this point.

Ricardo Carvalho also had the chance to play some minutes for Pepe. Pepe is finally enjoying an extended period of time without injuries, a new trend for the center back. When he's in shape, he is clearly Real Madrid's best center back, above Sergio Ramos. Ramos played a good game overall in his return as a right back, but it's obvious that he was born to play center.

During over time, Benzema put the final 4-0 result in the scoreboard after a good steal by Xabi Alonso. Benzema's scoring streak is slowing down Higuaín's momentum, but the Argentinian player will surely have his chance later down the road.

Di María was tackled badly (although Racing's defender had no intention of hurting him), just as the referee announced the end of the game, but it looks as though he may just have taken a hit. The team will travel to Moscow on Sunday and play CSKA on Tuesday. The next la Liga game will be at Rayo Vallecano's stadium. After a few weeks of easy venues, the real competition lies ahead.

Look for previews, game coverage, and post-match recaps and analysis on Managing Madrid's facebook, twitter, and iTunes podcast.

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