Real Madrid cruised to a 2-0 first-leg victory against Osasuna as Benzema and Jesé maintained Ancelotti’s fortunes in the Copa del Rey.
The Frenchman got himself on the score-sheet in the 19th minute from a great cross by Modric. Impressively, this marks his 99th goal with Los Blancos in all competitions. This impressive statistic emerges during an interesting time for Benzema. As of recently, many Madristas have been frustrated with Karim’s work rate and goal scoring rate; however, he has scored a goal in each of the last two fixtures (one in La Liga and the other Copa del Rey).
Additionally, Jesé continued to write headlines again with another impressive performance. His goal was a fantastic display of Real Madrid’s cohesion during today’s match. Benzema picked up a horrible back pass from Oier and passed it quickly to Ronaldo. The Portuguese talisman then placed the final ball for Jese to calmly finish.
On a quick side note, many Madristas will be hoping Jesé’s injury (an injury he picked up during the second half) is nothing more than a sprain. With his recent run of form, it would be very unfortunate to see the youngster sidelined for more than a month.
The hosts saw the better hand of possession throughout the game and there were moments where the visitors stretched the game out for Los Blancos; however, Osasuna lacked both the sting and the final effort to punish Ancelotti’s men.
More importantly, Ancelotti did not leave anything to chance in this match. His starting eleven exemplified his assurance and, ultimately, it showed with the victory.
The inclusion of Jesé behind Benzema was a welcome addition that added flexibility to Madrid’s attacks. Bale and Ronaldo interchanged wings consistently; while Benzema and Jesé interchanged positions down the center of the field with great fluidity. What seemed to be an experimental attacking lineup could maybe turn into the ‘preferred’ lineup for Real Madrid’s future matches? Only time will tell.
Additionally, the Modric-Illaramendi connection was, once again, a success. Under Modric’s wing this game, Illara has continued to grow as a player. The youngster’s performance was simple, conservative, and hard working. Just what is needed in the center of the park for a team like Real Madrid. As for Modric, the Croatian continues to prove how valuable he is to Real Madrid’s ambitions going forward into the new year.
Furthermore, and most importantly, Real Madrid did not complicate matters in this first-leg. With another win in the new year, Ancelotti will make sure there are no surprises come this weekend against Espanyol. A slip up this weekend could set Los Blancos’ hopes of La Liga even further as Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, the leaders of the table, face off in epic fashion. This weekend is the perfect time for the men in white to make a statement to league leaders, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, by grabbing the three crucial points.