Real Madrid's thumping today was needed. It was a morale-boosting result which will carry over to the Club's quest to salvage a trophy in the Champions League. With Gareth Bale scoring upon his return and Ronaldo looking like peak-Ronaldo, the timing and outcome of this match was conducive to the confidence needed against Roma and beyond.
Zidane opted for a Casemiro-Kovacic-Isco midfield trio which initially struggled to create, but it was more than enough to dissect a gaping Celta defense. The team smashed Celta without Modric and Kroos - all the more reason to shed hesitancy when it comes to rotating the squad.
Here are four things we noted.
- Welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo - that was an emphatic performance which reminded us all of your peak.
His free-kick goal was inch-perfect, as was the 2nd free-kick which Ruben Blanco barely saved. His first goal was vintage Ronaldo, unleashing a cannon over a helpless Blanco from outside the box. Overall, it was a very complete game from Cristiano, and it was nice to see him play so well, even if Celta's attempts to close down his space was dire (like suspiciously dire, Celta normally are much better).
Great to see that free-kick goal especially. I'm thinking ahead to key moments in the Champions League where Real Madrid will have opportunities from set-pieces. If a confident and on-point Ronaldo is taking them, it could be a game-changer.
- Three claps for the under-appreciated Casemiro. I'm not actually sure if he's under-appreciated or not, but I need to point out his performance today was impressive and combative. Casemiro had some great tackles, and on Ronaldo's third goal, he's the one who won the ball in midfield to start the counter-attack.
- Borja Mayoral's development could be further along than we initially thought. Mayoral did really well today to create danger in attack while playing really well off the ball defensively. This kid is 18, and it's scary how confident he looks in a professional football match. The upside is real.
- Defensively, Ramos and Pepe's lapse cost a goal (and could have cost another had Keylor Navas not intervened). It's clear that this team can score goals, but that high-line from Ramos and Pepe was disastrous given they were completely oblivious to Diego Aspas hovering around the half-way line. Those mistakes need to cease if Real Madrid want to make a deep run in Europe.
Pepe struggled with distributing the ball today, but his goal made up for it.