Real Madrid scored three goals before half-time and then turned off the switch. Job done. An important three points while a game against Paris looms.
Here's five thing to note after today's win.
- I'm starting to see Casemiro as more indispensable to the starting line-up than Toni Kroos. This is not necessarily and observation from this match in particular - although I thought he was exceptional - but rather based on the balance this team needs to function. Kroos is superb. His composure and simplicity is what makes him so brilliant. But when James comes back, Casemiro will be the one sacrificed by default. Is Toni Kroos, as a defensive midfielder, going to provide the same stability as Casemiro? It's a thought that has to be in the back of Rafa's mind.
- If there was just one word I could use to describe Rafa Benitez's Real Madrid team this season thus far, it would be: Disciplined. The team's organization is really beautiful if you're a tactical junkie who could watch the defensive line all game. Sure, goals are fun - but you know what's even more fun? Results. I loved the way Real Madrid moved as a unit in this game. Modric, Casemiro, and Kroos cut off every passing angle when the ball was on the flanks, and for the most part, opposing attackers usually resort to passing it back in this situation.
This is a team you should be genuinely excited about. Rafa has blown everyone away with the success thus far.
- Marcelo was really solid tonight - apart from the conceded goal. Although, it can be argued that Varane / Casemiro / Nacho were even more to blame than the Brazilian left back. His passing and crossing were crisp, and his flicks were eye-candy as usual. The Danilo - Marcelo duo has to be the best on the planet, offensively at least. Defensive schemes are going to have a laborious time trying to cope with the constant danger from the flanks. When Bale and James are back, it's going to be even more deadly.
This team's ceiling is quite frankly, insane.
- I'm really impressed with Lucas Vasquez lately. I've been highly critical of him this season, and have received all kinds of criticism for that - but he's been really effective and has played within himself. His tracking in particular, was really great tonight. Actually, in what was otherwise a mundane second half, his tracking on the defensive end was the most entertaining part of the final 45 minutes for me.
- Welcome back Jese.