While Barcelona completely dismantled Getafe at the Camp Nou yesterday, Real Madrid weren't that brilliant against Almería. The effort was good enough to get them the three points, for sure, but Real Madrid could have used this game to gain some momentum ahead of the really tough stretch they will be facing over the next 10 days. Instead, Ancelotti decided to rotate his squad and even the starters saved some energy by completing a very mediocre and forgettable performance at the Santiago Bernabéu.
If players like Jesé or Illarramendi wanted to show their coach they should have featured more often throughout the season, it didn't work. Both of them tried their best, but their lack of confidence and explosiveness was visible. Illarramendi in particular was very ineffective. This could have been his last serious test to see if he's worth the wait, and after this game he might be leaving the Spanish capital for good next summer.
James Rodríguez's brilliant goal was the only thing retrievable from this match. Just when it seemed that the first half was going to end scoreless, the Colombian scored a long-distance goal that opened the score and could be considered one of the season's best. When he left the pitch in the 60th minute -- Isco came on -- , the Bernabéu gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. He's been arguably one of the brightest spots this season, and his contribution in Real's present and short-term future appears to be very promising.
An Almería own-goal in the 49th minute was the nail in the coffin for the visitors and all Real Madrid needed to play carelessly throughout the rest of the game. With a 2-0 lead and so many tough games to come, it's not hard to understand this gameplan. Minutes before the final whistle, Arbeloa put the 3-0 up on the scoreboard off a good assist by Chicharito, who otherwise completed a mediocre game.
Odegaard did not make his debut with Real Madrid, as Ancelotti decided to deploy Nacho with 3-0 and 5 minutes to go.
All in all, this wasn't the most entertaining performance from Real Madrid. Not at all. But Los Blancos kept the race for the Liga BBVA title alive, and every Real Madrid fan should be hoping for that exact same thing after Saturday's game at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Ancelotti will need an improved display from his pupils if he wants to walk away from Sevilla with all three points, as the Andalusian side will surely make things difficult for the reigning European champions.