8 things we saw..
- The way Rafa has motivated the squad to come out of the gates is impressive. There is a sense of purpose and identity within the players - an aura that we haven't felt in a long time. Maybe it stems from the fact that Benitez is a Madridista and that his attitude towards the club has trickled through to the players. Even if the results aren't there yet, there is a certain excitement and pride within the team this year.
- Transitioning from point #1, the way Real Madrid suffocated Galatasaray to start the game really set the tone. The passing lanes were closed down, and each one of the front six players played in close proximity to each other defensively in angles that made it easy for Galatasaray to cough up possession deep in their half. Once Real Madrid gets the ball there, they're deadly because at any given time there are three or four outlet passes to connect with on the counter attack.
- This is the most confident Jese has looked since his return from injury. If he continues playing this well, is there really a need to bring in another back-up striker like Llorente? I don't mind the Basque target man - he has experience and he would be cheap. But he would change the flow of the game and potentially hinder Jese's development. Jese should be Benzema's direct sub, with Ronaldo as the third option.
- Gareth Bale is a tremendous crosser - underrated even. I like the way Benitez is instructing Bale to whip in an early cross from the right wing. As always, dangerous when cutting in or swinging a ball in from the flank; but he disappeared in the second half and still struggles with some basic plays like misplacing easy passes in transition.
- Kroos and Modric bossed this game. They really are an incredible midfield combo when surrounded by the right players.
- We're still waiting for that 'breakout game' from Danilo. He's clearly not there yet and seems to be playing at 50% confidence. His defensive positioning was suspect as well. But there should be little doubt that he will settle in eventually. He's too skilled, and too freakishly athletic not to eventually find his form.
- That Marcelo goal made me jump out of my seat. Classic Marcy.
- I'm half watching the post-match 'celebration' as I write this. It's mildly amusing to see Gala having to stick around for something they clearly don't care about.