Real Madrid sit atop the league thanks to their remarkable effort in the last four games since the league resumed. The job is not done and it is not the time to celebrate but there is a need to acknowledge the quality of performances and mentality the team displayed in the stretch of matches in June so far.
Ten goals and two clean sheets
The team has scored ten goals and recorded two clean sheets in the four games they have played in June. They recorded three goals in 90 minutes in two games and two goals in the other.
The team’s offense has looked refreshed and more dynamic with Hazard playing a key role in their improved attack. In June, the team is registering shots on target roughly every 12 minutes (compared to approximately 15 minutes before the league was suspended). In terms of goals, the rate has gone up from every 52 minutes to every 38 minutes.
Defensively, despite conceding shots on target more often (every 29 minutes versus 35 minutes), the team is keeping the ball out of the net for longer stretches as Courtois has been beaten once per 189 minutes compared to 134 minutes pre-June.
Benzema and Ramos spearhead scoring
It didn’t seem sustainable at the start of the season and perhaps a symptom of a greater risk that needed to be addressed but Benzema and Ramos remain the only two primary goal threats for the team with three goals each.
Benzema has been exceptional (albeit with certain notable lulls in certain matches) and instrumental in getting Real Madrid into favourable positions in the last four games. One thinks of his excellent pass to Hazard before the breakthrough goal against Eibar. Other key instances include his interplay in the lead up to the second goal versus Eibar, his beautiful brace against Valencia and his game deciding goal to give Real Madrid three points at the Anoeta Stadium.
Ramos’ impact on Real Madrid’s performance is currently beyond words. The captain has set the tone for the rest of the team and is directly taking the lead with assured defensive performances coupled with vital offensive contributions. Whether bursting into the box to tap the ball into the net, coolly putting away a penalty or curling in an amazing free kick - the center back’s impact has been undeniable.
A healthy roster and five substitutions mean more rotation
Rotating and trying to maximize the use of the roster has always been one the hallmarks of Zidane’s game management model. Two factors have allowed the manager to implement this at a higher level which are the increased number of substitutes and the team being in a generally healthier state than usual with most of the players available.
Since the league restarted in June, 21 player have seen the pitch. Of that number, 16 have started at least one game. With those players, Zidane has put together a different starting line-up for every game and 15 line-ups altogether including substitutions. Only five players have started every game: Benzema, Carvajal, Courtois, Ramos and Varane. Ten players have played some part of every game while Courtois and Varane are the only two players to have played every single minute.