A slow start of the game did not prevent Real Madrid from getting the three points against a diminished Liverpool side that left Gerrard, Sterling and Balotelli on the bench. The cold weather -- this was by far the coldest night of the year so far -- could be blamed for Real Madrid's sloppy and unsteady start. The fans were not much involved in the game either, mainly because Real Madrid faced this game feeling that there wasn't a lot at stake.
Ancelotti finally left Gareth Bale on the bench too, and Real Madrid's left flank -- Isco, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo -- proved how dangerous they are when they combined for a beautiful play that ended with Karim Benzema scoring the opening goal of the match. The French striker is consolidating himself as a Champions League specialist, having scored five games over Real's four matches played. Benzema has hit his stride as Real's striker, and he's simply irreplaceable in Real Madrid's formation. While there are some better poachers in Europe, it's hard -- if not impossible -- to find a strker who fits better Ancelotti's attacking system.
Liverpool's first 45 minutes were as poor as expected, since there's not much you can do with Leiva, Can and Allen in your midfield. Furthermore, when your attackers are Markovic, Borini and Lallana, it was hard not to foresee Real's defensive line taking over the game. More specifically, it was Raphael Varane the one defender who dominated Markovic and company. The Serbian winger tried to outpace Varane once and he just got schooled by Varane's impressive quickness.
Gareth Bale spent quite some time warming up just to avoid another injury, but he finally came on by the 62nd minute. The Welsh player replaced James, who had an average game offensively while he contributed a lot in defense. Rodriguez has adapted really well to Real Madrid's style, even better than some expected. Shortly after, Brendan Rodgers decided to introduce Gerrard and Sterling to the game. The Santiago Bernabeu cheered the British legend as he came in, something similar to what happened with Andrea Pirlo when Juventus visited the Bernabeu last season.
Even though Rodgers was trying to savage a draw, but the truth is that the game did not change much, not even after Coutinho replaced Emre Can. Real Madrid still controlled the tempo of the match, having most of the possession and dominating Liverpool through Ramos and Varane's brilliant performances. Gareth Bale had a chance to put the nail in the coffin by the 84th minute, but Moreno tackled him right before he entered the box. The referee could have sent Liverpool's left back off, but showed him a yellow card instead.
All in all, it was a steady and solid performance by Real Madrid. Ancelotti's men did not need much to beat this Liverpool side. Now, Los Blancos will face Rayo Vallecano next Saturday in what will be Real Madrid's last match before the not-so-loved FIFA break.