After a rough start in the Liga BBVA and a good victory in their Champions League debut game against FC Basel last Tuesday, Real Madrid needed to win and display a good performance in La Coruña to keep track of Barcelona and Atlético in the league table. Ancelotti sticked to his hybrid 4-3-3/4-4-2 system with Kroos, Modric and James at the midfield and they showed, once again, that this scheme can work.
Deportivo: Lux; Laure, Sidnei, Diakité, Luisinho; Bergantiños, Medunjanin; Juanfran (Domínguez, 45'), Fariña (Toché, 73'), Cuenca; Postiga (Cavaleiro, 45').
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric (Isco, 70'), James; Bale (Hernández, 76'), Benzema (Illarramendi, 58'), Ronaldo.
The first half
As they have been doing in their last few games, los Blancos dictated a slow tempo at the beginning, giving all prominence to their midfielders. The plan was to keep the possession without assuming any unnecessary risks, hoping that the goal occasions would fall as soon as they were ripe enough. Kroos kept his position as a defensive midfielder, while Modric and James were free to incorporate to Real Madrid's attacks in a box-to-box fashion.
By the fifteenth minute, Real Madrid accelerated. Ronaldo started to appear in central positions occupying the lanes that a brilliant Benzema constantly opened, and the system naturally changed into a 4-4-2 (or even a 4-2-4, given the weak counterattacking intentions of Deportivo), with James and Bale at the wings. As we've seen in all games this season, Real Madrid's control between the fifteenth and the thirtieth minute was absolute, and there were three clear but non-culminated goal occasions (two shots by Ronaldo and one from Bale) before the first goal arrived.
It was the 29th minute: Ronaldo appeared in the hole between Deportivo's centerbacks and midfielders and, after faking a long shot, found Arbeloa in the right wing. The Spartan put a great cross in the middle of Deportivo's box and Ronaldo, who jumped higher than anyone, scored with a brilliant header.
The goal was a heavy blow to Deportivo's players, whose defensive concentration vanished in the blink of an eye. Real Madrid's movements on their side became easier and our players were always found in advantageous positions. This yielded two more goals before the break: a brilliant long shot by James and another by Ronaldo, after Deportivo's goalkeeper Lux abandoned his goal trying to anticipate a control by Benzema and who could have been sent out at that moment.
The second half
With 0-3 in the scoreboard, it seemed everything was already done and Real Madrid wanted to impose a slow tempo again. However, in their first approach to our goal, Deportivo were awarded a disputable penalty because, according to the referee, Ramos blocked a shot with his hands. Medunjanin did not hesitate in front of Casillas and scored the 1-3.
This goal was like a wake-up call for Deportivo. They started to believe they could tie and our players could not match their intensity. They controlled the game for ten minutes or so, but they were never able to produce serious trouble near our goal. Ancelotti saw that and sent Illarramendi in instead of Benzema, to add some muscle for the defense and to help his partners with the possession. Bale moved upfront again, to the left winger position, and Real Madrid started to play a clear 4-3-3, with James and Ronaldo constantly exchanging their positions (right winger and false 9).
Soon enough, Real Madrid scored their fourth goal and cut Deportivo's hopes once again. It was Bale, who received a great pass by Marcelo and, with a subtle shot, got his second league goal this season. He still had time to score the fifth one, after a great pass by Isco (who had come in for Modrić), before leaving his spot for Chicharito Hernández in the seventy-sixth minute.
The game was over and, apparently, there was no room for surprise, but it seemed that some of our players did not want to leave the pitch. In the last fifteen minutes, Chicharito got a brace and Ronaldo completed his first hattrick since November 2013. Deportivo were also able to score, via a brilliant header by Toché that was unblockable.
This victory is an oxygen tank for Real Madrid, who finally cut their bad streak in the league. With six points, they are one point below Atlético and three points below Barcelona, who play against Celta and Levante, respectively. Our next rival will be Elche, on Tuesday, who were beaten by Eibar last night (2-0).