Zidane's third match in charge was eventful, to stay the least. After a blistering and frantic start which saw Betis launch a couple attacks before capitalizing on a screaming volley from Cejudo, this match saw some relentless hard-work from both sides. The match closed with Real Madrid pinning back a desperate Real Betis team fighting for their lives, and somewhere in between, Real Madrid scored an off-side goal while the referee missed a clear penalty on Karim Benzema despite being just a few feet away from the incident.
Here are three quick notes...
- My Twitter feed was all doom-and-gloom and filled with negativity. Here's the reality: Real Betis played an out-of-character game fueled by lots of pride in front of an electrifying home crowd. The whole thing was magical for them. From the opening minute, Real Betis were rabid, and Cejudo's golazo (a goal in-which Varane was completely asleep during) gave them an extra punch. Betis did well to double-up on the left wing to close down Ronaldo and Benzema. On the flipside, Danilo had more space on the right but failed to put a good consistent cross in - an aspect which improved with Carvajal's entrance.
The game of course eventually settled down as it progressed to a tempo which was more beneficial for Real Madrid. Zidane's men threw the kitchen sink at Betis and fought hard, so it's hard to start pointing fingers. For all the criticism dished out to James, he wasn't all that terrible. Sure, he wasn't Isco-good, but he did well to distribute the ball. Perhaps his biggest knock was that he wasn't visible enough. Overall, It was a solid effort from Real Madrid.
- When was the last time Isco looked this confident? He was phenomenal tonight. And it wasn't just his ability to dribble out of tight spaces - which is so critical in a match like this - but also his constant command of the ball. He was always looking for it. All good signs from Disco tonight despite the two dropped points.
- Who approved the grey jerseys? Seriously, I want a name and contact. It took me 45 minutes to be able to properly guess who was a Real Madrid player and who wasn't. Even then, it was a shot in the dark at times. Maybe my eyes are prematurely growing old. But chances are they're not, and those kits clashed horribly.