It seemed reasonable to expect a calm, easy-going Real Madrid-Malmö when Los Blancos secured the first spot in the Champions League group stage a few weeks ago, but this 8-0 score was probably not in everyone's mind. Benítez's men offered a very solid display no matter how weak Malmö were, and while it's true that this match should be taken with a grain of salt, performances like the ones Kovacic or Isco displayed prove that Benítez has a deep roster for the remainder of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both earned a mention in this review thanks to their brilliant scoring form. Real Madrid really missed Benzema while the French was hurt and he is arguably playing the best football of his career. He was performing really well before his injury as well, but the way he's impacted the team -- and Cristiano Ronaldo to a certain extent -- ever since he made his return is something special. He surely feels happy about this hat-trick but Cristiano Ronaldo got the spotlight away from the French by scoring four goals himself. Ronaldo also managed to put his free-kick slump to an end, so this turned out to be a perfect night for the two strikers.
Benítez decided to keep Modric and Kroos on the bench and the truth is that the Casemiro-Kovacic-James midfield worked really well, because The Colombian is more comfortable deep than at the right wing. His individual performance wasn't too impressive, but James definitely helped his team a lot. The star in the midfield line was Mateo Kovacic. The 21-year-old has completed some good performances for Madrid when given the chance, but tonight he was a candidate for the Man of the Match award by making plays, defending really well and also scoring his first goal as a Real Madrid player. This Croatian kid will be something special and Benítez's coaching staff must take him very seriously.
The midfield could probably deserve another shot at playing together in a serious game, but it would be almost impossible for Benítez to bench Kroos and Modric at the same time. Those two players have a well-deserved reputation as two of the world's best midfielders and they will have a place in the starting XI. The good thing for Benítez is that all Casemiro, Kovacic and James have proven to be a very interesting mix if Kroos and Modric are not available.