- James Rodriquez was in God-mode tonight. Right away, you could see how conducive James is on the right wing. De facto, he's just deadly from there. A great swinging cross found Bale's head early in the game for the first goal. 37 minutes later, James' perfect free-kick from a tight angle on the right side hit the inside of the far post and bounced in. There is nothing fluky about that - in any shape or form. That's a killer strike, because James know that a sharp strike like that swung in to the far post is either going to be met with someone's head for a chance on goal, find the back of the net, or at the very least, just provide some kind of havoc in the area. That was a GOAT goal, but somehow he managed to top if with an even better strike in the early stages of the second half - a bicycle kick from just outside the six-yard box.
What James did today goes beyond the goals and assists though. Check this. 85 his of 90 passes met their mark. He was everywhere.
- Keylor Navas. I'm going to put him as the second 'man of the match' after James. He wasn't tested often, but arose impressively when called upon. He stopped an almost certain goal in the second half, and then saved a penalty. In fact, I'm almost certain Varane committed a foul inside the box just so Keylor could save a penalty tonight. Bravo Keylor, bravo.
- Keep your eye on this: About half way through each half, Rafa shuffles the offense. This is the second consecutive game in which around the 27th and 70th minute mark, Bale shifts to the right, and the other attackers consequently roam in other areas of the pitch. It's interesting, and makes it difficult for defenders to cope with. Having said all that, James' best position still remains on the right side while Bale looks his most dangerous on the left.
- Marcelo is still in Gijon. He gave away the ball in dangerous areas. He can cause damage offensively all he wants, but he needs to dramatically upgrade his defensive awareness once the big games roll around.
- On the flipside, Danilo had a strong game at right back. You're slowly starting to see the fruits of this purchase as he begins to regain his Porto form. That build-up to Benzema's goal was thanks to some intricate quick passing starting from Danilo's flank. He also had a couple marvelous tackles. Sure, there were still some questionable moments where his defensive positioning wasn't the best, but if we keep being patient with him, we'll reap the rewards.
- Happy for Bale. Readers should know by now that I'm the biggest Gareth Bale advocate around, but I actually wasn't impressed with him outside of his goals tonight. Nevertheless, I'm happy for him. The strike at the end is just what he needs to beef up his confidence.
- Minor note. I had the feeling that if Ronaldo grabbed a goal late in this game, he would go apeshit, swing his jersey around and start screaming "CALMA", just to prove "Hey guys, I'm here tonight too".
Real Madrid come away with a thoroughly deserved victory over a fragile Real Betis team. Here are 7 things we saw.