Real Madrid strolled past Shakhtar Donetsk in their first Champions League match of the season. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, while Karim Benzema capitalized on a rare Andriy Pyatov mistake to add gloss to a routine win. Los Blancos have now scored fifteen goals in their last three matches and have conceded none.
Cristiano Ronaldo once again led the team and continues to silence any remaining doubters. The victory, however, may have left coach Rafa Benítez with a bittersweet feeling, as Gareth Bale, Varane and Ramos were all substituted due to injury concerns. Benítez will further hope that his team keeps up the intensity seen in the last matches.
- Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7 is back with a bang. Having scored 8 goals in the last two games, the Portuguese forward continues to prove that he intends to lead Madrid to a trophy-winning season. In addition, the Madeira-native superstar became the Champions League’s all-time penalty top scorer with 11 spot kicks to his name. With 80 goals in the UCL, the battle between Ronaldo and Messi (who has scored 77) for all-time top scorer will be an intense one.
- Injury concerns.
It’s starting to feel as if every time Gareth Bale goes to the ground, he is forced off due to some injury. "I’m not worried about the injuries, most of our players are healthy and today’s problems were not serious," stated Rafa Benítez. However, with Danilo and James already out, and a potentially serious injury to the Welsh wizard, Madrid may have to rely on some of their more fringe players. Ramos, with a confirmed dislocated shoulder, will surely miss Saturday’s game against Granada.
In the meanwhile, the Madrid medical staff will be hoping that the team will avoid being plagued by such injuries in the more key parts of the season.
- Madrid must avoid complacency.
Despite some promising displays, Rafa Benítez will have hoped that his team had faced some more stern competition. Following some colossal victories, and with another likely routine win against Granada on Saturday, Los Blancos may grow overconfident.
Rafa Benítez will need to remind his players of Betis’ atrocious defending and of the fact that it was a Pyatov mistake and an unfair penalty which stretched Madrid’s lead against Shakhtar. Indeed, the Madrid displays have been encouraging, but it is no time for complacency in a season that must finish with a trophy for Benítez’s men.