It was another convincing win for Real Madrid, one that once again showed just how good things are going for Los Blancos right now. Here are the top five takeaways from that demolishing performance against Rayo Vallecano:
1. Depth is a problem (the good kind of problem)
Most people wondered what Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was going to do once Gareth Bale was available again. Benching Isco or James sounded ridiculous, but like Carletto said, he needs more than 11 important players and boy his team easily meets that number.
Choosing between Isco, James or Bale is like choosing between a Maserati, a Porsche or a Ferrari (if you have a particular preference just bear with me). You just can't go wrong with any of those, and that was very clear early in the game against Rayo Vallecano, as Bale needed just nine minutes to score. They all offer a unique skill set and many alternatives for their coach which is a problem that Ancelotti knows only has positive outcomes. As an opposing team, it has to be a nightmare to think about all the match ups they might face against Real Madrid.
Of course, we're only talking about those three, but you can't forget about Jesé Rodríguez, who will hopefully return soon. Ancelotti also has Chicharito as a very effective alternative for Karim Benzema and, defensively, there's Nacho, Raphael Varane, Fábio Coentrao and so on. Even the best GK of the past World Cup is waiting on the bench! This is simply a ridiculous roster and it's easily the best team Ancelotti has ever had. What a lucky position to be in.
2. Karim Benzema is so damn good
Pretty obvious, huh? Well, not quite. There are still lots of Benz critics out there but luckily they're slowly accepting just how ridiculously good the French striker is. If not, all I can say is that they need to pay a bit more attention so they can finally enjoy one of the top players in the world right now.
He's not only a great striker, he does everything you could ask from a player in that position and even more. Karim makes setting up scoring chances and counters look very, very easy, making his teammates, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo, rather happy. His vision, timing and technique are out of this world and he's a big reason why this team has scored 42 Liga goals this year.
3. Fatigue sucks
It's true that Ronaldo looked a bit off last week against Liverpool and Rayo. He was not the only one though, as James Rodríguez also had a rough game at the Bernabéu last Saturday. The reason for those struggles might be fatigue, rather than just one bad night.
These guys are ridiculously good, and as elite players it's easy to expect greatness every time they jump on the pitch, but after a very demanding month that included Liga (and El Clásico), Champions League and Copa del Rey games, it's normal to see that effort taking its toll on the team. Bale's return and the Christmas break will help, but it's something to keep an eye on during the season. Ancelotti seems to know and understand this and with this ridiculous roster, rotations won't affect the team a lot.
4. Even an off CR7 is better than most players
The best player in the world is a unique player in football history. He's so good that even when things aren't looking too well for him, he still finds the most ridiculous ways to make an impact. Just look at his goal against Rayo. That's the reward after trying all day long (and a hilarious mistake by the GK). It wasn't his best night against Rayo Vallecano and he still scored, had two assists and three key passes. Not bad at all.
A lot of people think that Cristiano's 18 goals so far in La Liga are unbelievable but it's the exact opposite. He makes the most ridiculous things (an amazing header, impossible shots, or simply breaking record after record) look entirely normal. That's just how good the Portuguese star is, and he's far from done.
5. Real Madrid is the best team in La Liga
Last but not least, Real Madrid currently stands alone at the top of La Liga standings with 27 points, above Barcelona (25) and Valencia (24). Just a couple points, so this is far from over, right? Fair enough. However, there's one thing that immediately makes Los Blancos much better than the rest of La Liga: they've scored 42 goals. Forty two! In just eleven games! For an average of 3.8 goals per game! Barcelona, with their ridiculous offensive power, have 17 goals less than that (25). Those are just insane numbers.
About the second best team in La Liga (or at least in the standings), let's remember El Clásico for a second. Barcelona were looking good early but once Real Madrid settled down, it was over for them, and it never looked like they had a chance to even tie that game. A 3-1 was a very decent result for the Catalans considering how things went down that day.
Those early struggles against Real Sociedad and Atlético de Madrid are long gone. Instead, Real Madrid is enjoying one of their hottest streaks of all time and it doesn't look like it will slow down anytime soon.