Real Madrid made it two wins in a week as they built upon the win over Villarreal in midweek by seeing off Athletic Club in their second away fixture in four days. In a 2-0 victory, Carlo Ancelotti’s rotations were vindicated.
Karim Benzema scored a landmark goal and then Toni Kroos scored his 11th goal for Real Madrid from outside the box, maintaining his record of more than half of his 21 strikes for the club being from distance.
Here are three stats that help to understand the game.
228: Karim Benzema equals Raúl as Real Madrid’s second-highest ever goalscorer in LaLiga
With his composed finish to give Real Madrid the lead on 24 minutes, Karim Benzema equalled Raúl González Blanco as the club’s second-highest goalscorer in LaLiga history. Sharing the platform, Benzema has reached a landmark which he has had his eye on for some time.
Benzema reached the figure in 125 fewer games, with this being his 425th LaLiga appearance since making his debut in 2009, compared to 550 in total for Raúl between 1994 and 2010.
However, the challenge for the Frenchman is that he does have some distance between him and first place. Cristiano Ronaldo is on 311 goals, some 83 goals ahead, which would require some impressive form and longevity from Benzema if he is to even come close to the Portuguese icon.
He also moves up to joint-fifth in the all-time LaLiga rankings, falling behind only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Telmo Zarra and Hugo Sánchez. It was Benzema’s 335th goal for Real Madrid in all competitions, 12 more than Raúl achieved, and on his 622nd appearance, 118 fewer than Raúl.
It was also his 18th strike against Athletic Club in LaLiga, putting him level with Cristiano Ronaldo and only behind Lionel Messi for the most prolific goalscorer against the Basque side. With 19 goals against them in all competitions, he certainly enjoys playing against Athletic!
16: Duels Nacho was involved in, winning half
Nacho was an imposing figure for Real Madrid, and he showed his usual full-blooded style by being involved in a match-high 16 duels in total, 11 ground duels and five aerial duels, winning five of those on the ground and three aerial battles.
In addition to that, he cleared the ball six times, in addition to five headed clearances, recovered possession five times and made one interceptions.
Even going forwards, his numbers were impressive. Two far post shots created 0.29 xG and tested Unai Simón on the hour mark, and he also completed four passes in the final third. With 77 touches, behind only Dani Ceballos for Real Madrid on 78, he was the action man all over the pitch.
NACHO AGAIN— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) January 22, 2023
This was Nacho’s first LaLiga start since the opening day against Almería, and yet he produced one of the most assured performances of the season at right-back in the absence of Lucas Vázquez and Dani Carvajal.
With another match-high of three fouls committed, his physicality matched that of Athletic and could well be welcome ahead of a tie as heated as the Madrid derby in midweek. Nacho has made the place his own.
8: Consecutive seasons taking points from San Mamés for the first time in Real Madrid history
For the eighth consecutive season, dating back to a run that started in 2015/16, Real Madrid have taken points from San Mamés in LaLiga. That’s the first time that Real Madrid have ever prolonged such a streak against Athletic Club over such a lengthy period.
This was the fourth consecutive win, with two draws and two wins preceding this streak. The last time Real Madrid fell in the league in Bilbao was in March 2015, when Aritz Aduriz scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win.
That’s not to say that the record is perfect, as last season’s Copa del Rey run proves, but Real Madrid have built up a significant advantage in head-to-head meetings with one of their old adversaries.
This game was special for a number of reasons. It was the first time since Athletic moved stadiums in 2014 that the winning margin was more than one goal in Real Madrid’s favour. The last win by such a margin in Bilbao was at the old San Mamés in 2013, with a 3-0 win.
It also provided a record attendance for Athletic: 49,316. Never before have so many fans crammed into the stadium to watch their team play, and they did so for the occasion of a visit from Real Madrid. In the long process of a season, it’s easy to forget the importance of each and every game, but for many clubs, even big ones like Athletic, a visit from Real Madrid is a highlight.