It’s been quite some time since Real Madrid last won 5-0. How much time you ask? 357 days. The last time Real Madrid won by that exact margin was on the road in the previous season’s Champions League third group game against Viktoria Plzen under Santiago Solari’s direction. Nevertheless, this much-needed goal fest could catapult the team towards a strong finish to 2019.
Typically when I see score lines similar to this one against Leganés, the first thought is everything went right for the winner and wrong for the loser. Zinédine Zidane put out a starting lineup with a veteran back line, strong midfield, and intelligent forwards. From the first whistle, Real Madrid was sharp in passing, organized in the lines, aggressive in possession recuperation, and bountiful with offensive ideas. The visiting neighbour from the south of the capital had incredible difficulty in building any offensive play and were overwhelmed at the back. Two major errors in the box led to two penalty goals by Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema.
For two and a half months, Madridistas have been waiting for an impactful performance by Eden Hazard, and he finally came through. Despite not scoring or assisting, he forced attention from the back line, which freed up Karim Benzema to wreak havoc inside and outside the box. 18-year-old Rodrygo had yet another solid performance after last Tuesday’s road victory against Galatasaray with a commanding presence on the right. Even Toni Kroos got on the score sheet, which rewarded the midfield dominance. Casemiro and Federico Valverde brought the required muscle to stop any counterattacks and maintain the tilted field of play in favour of the home side. The scoring efficiency was almost 20% with a total of 19 shots ending up in five goals. Even the newly-acquired Serbian forward Luka Jovic found the net for the first time in his Real Madrid career.
As much as the team was firing on all cylinders to secure another three points, the dark cloud surrounding Gareth Bale’s absence still looms large. Two weeks after his stellar performance against Croatia in the 2020 Euro Qualifiers, the press finally began to focus on pressing for answers on the frustrating absence. Specifically, 11 of the 16 total questions in Zidane’s pregame press conference were about the four-time Champions League winning Welsh winger. Of course, the French Manager was tight-lipped and classy with no intention to stir any pot. This silence by the Club and player are doing no favours when it comes to the sports press. As expected, conspiracy theories and rumour-mongering win the day in this age of social media and continuous news coverage. The sooner Gareth Bale returns to the field, the better.
The next two games for Real Madrid are against Real Betis on Saturday in La Liga and next Wednesday against Galatasaray in the Champions League at home. Recently, the Santiago Bernabéu has not been a guaranteed sanctuary of wins for Los Blancos. However, this is a terrific opportunity of which Zidane and the team can take advantage. Hopefully this ‘manita’ is more of a recurrence rather than an anomaly as we approach 2020. ¡Hala Madrid y nada más!
Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)