Real Madrid were rampant in the goals department as they scored five against an uninspired Real Betis, while Carlo Ancelotti acquired his 500th victory as a manager.
Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Di Maria, and Morata all got their names on the scoresheet as Real Madrid see through their fifth consecutive victory of the year. Not only that, but it is also their fifth consecutive game with a clean sheet; a great accomplishment for Los Blancos coming into the new year.
Additionally, the seasoned Italian manager has marked his 500th victory as a professional manager. His credentials speak for themselves, as he has managed teams such as Juventus, AC-Milan, Chelsea, and more recently, Paris Saint German. His time at Real Madrid has been more of a transition from Mourinho’s ‘double-pivot’ system into a free-flowing, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system.
Collectively, Real Madrid played the most cohesive soccer under Ancelotti in today’s fixture versus Real Betis. The scoreline only explains half of Los Blancos’ dominance. Defensively, once again, Real Madrid were rock solid as the back four contained Betis with no problem. Detractors of the Spanish capital side will be saying the competition in the past five games are far from world class. While this is true, Ancelotti will continuously stress the importance of keeping clean sheets against every team for one thing: confidence. The defensive confidence that Real Madrid have at the moment will undoubtedly carry over onto the more demanding fixtures in Champions League and in La Liga.
Competitively, Real Betis failed to bring any to Los Blancos. Anderson’s efforts between the posts for Betis was below par, as he was beaten five times. But, can you really punish or detract a keeper’s ability against world class players? Di Maria’s 35-yard bullet, in specific, is an example of an unstoppable shot for the unlucky Anderson.
Benzema’s goal, assisted by the fan-favorite and in form Modric, marks his 100th with the club. The Frenchman has started the new year with a bang and has been riding on great form. His link up plays, positioning, and more importantly his finishing, have been more deadly.
The unsung hero of the game will be the Croatian – Luka Modric. His consistent run of form has been spectacular to watch: acting as a central attacking midfielder or, more importantly, as a center defensive midfielder. It’s his defensive game that has been giving Real Madrid the click in each gear. His interceptions and silky smooth runs allows him to widen the field with ease. As Champions League continues onto the new year, Los Blancos will be put to a real test as matches from different tournaments will mean more tired legs and injury prone players. Let’s hope the Croatian does not pick up an injury anytime soon because he, if it hasn’t been clear by the half of the season, is the team’s heartbeat.
Moreover, the Welshman also scored another fantastic goal: a Bale-esque free-kick. In all respect to Ronaldo’s abilities, Bale at the moment looks like the player to get a goal from a free-kick opportunity. His technique is centered around accuracy instead of sheer power. While Ronaldo’s technique is much more powerful, many times it goes wide or into the wall. Whichever way you may look it, they’re both great free-kick takers but in the end, Bale displays his consistent accuracy from outside the box.
And to top it off, Cristiano Ronaldo – 2013’s Ballon d’Or winner – continued his consistent form by knocking in a brilliant goal and ending the game with a audacious bicycle kick assist to Morata. With another busy week ahead of Los Blancos, Ronaldo will definitely be key in both the Copa del Rey fixture against Espanyol on Tuesday and the La Liga fixture against Granada on Saturday. Ancelotti will want his team to earn another win to make it 501 victories.