Here are three quick things to take from Real Madrid’s emphatic 4-2 victory over Villareal:
1.) Bale, when his fitness is at 100%, is proving his worth with Los Blancos.
Ever since arriving at the capital, the Welshman has picked up consistent injuries. And while he still has yet to produce a string of fantastic week-in-week-out performances, there is one thing that is true about Gareth Bale — he IS Real Madrid material. With Ronaldo suspended for three games in La Liga, Bale was called upon by Ancelotti during the mid week. Quickly, within the first six minutes, Bale pounced on a goal by capitalizing on a horrid defensive error made by Villareal’s Jose Dorado. The instinct the Welshman displayed to score the chip was a reminder that even though he has been in and out of injury, he’s still world class.
Shortly after scoring, he then produced another one of his trademark assists — he ran down the right wing, teased Jaume until he put in a fast cross for Benzema to knick in. During the first half, Bale’s crossing was dangerous and accurate. As the game wore on, his attacking prowess was reserved for a more defensive performance. With an assist and a goal, there’s no doubt Bale will be satisfied with his performance. Coming off injuries is always going to be a struggle to regain form but the Welshman has proven that, when fit, he can contribute to the team immensely.
However, it will be interesting to see Ronaldo returning into the starting eleven. Many detractors say Bale is less effective with Ronaldo on the field. While this is true to a certain extent, we must remember this is Bale’s first season with Los Blancos. Bale will have to learn to be under the Portuguese’s shadow for a while until the torch is passed to the Welshman. At the moment, it is Real Madrid’s luxury that they have two fantastic wingers. And that’s what should be celebrated at the moment.
2.) Jesé’s fantastic form equals more depth within Ancelotti’s squad.
Jesé continued to get his name on the scoresheet against Villareal (and grabbed an assist) as he scored in his fourth consecutive match. With Ronaldo missing in the left wing, Ancelotti slotted in Jesé. Not only has the youngster played in the left-wing, but he has also shown flexibility by playing in the right-wing. His speed (reminiscent of a young Ronaldo) have been key to his runs made down the lines, as he often cuts in the box to give a low driven cross. His goal today, too, displayed his ability to constantly position himself for goal scoring opportunities. Di Maria, once again, provided a fantastic through ball for Jesé to sneakily knick the ball to the opposite post.
The Argentine has been adapting perfectly to Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 system, often playing an advanced role in front of Modric and Illara (or Alonso). Because of this, Di Maria is able to utilize his stamina to constantly pressure off the ball. Then, when he regains possession, he knows how to pick out passes in tight spaces while going forward — the attribute that best facilitates Real Madrid’s counter-attacking philosophy.
Once Ronaldo returns, Jesé will (once again) be in contention with the Welshman for the right wing. Earlier in the week, when interviewed, Jesé commented on the situation by saying, “He [Bale] is first choice and I am going to have to work my guts out to play.” A modest and humble statement, indeed. Competition is always great for teams, and it is definitely showing within the Real Madrid camp.
3.) Modric’s Show
It’s nothing new, but there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment. His contributions to the team have been immense — as he has provided with goals and assists. However, what is more important is to take from Modric is his technical ability. His ability to control the game come from his metronomic passes that allow Ancelotti’s squad to either go on the attack or, more importantly, regroup and retain possession.
With Champions League approaching in the end of the month, Modric will be hoping to continue his run of fantastic form. La Deicima is always in the minds of Madridistas and it seems more likely than ever with Ancelotti’s guidance. His guidance has allowed for fantastic individual performances, as well as collectively as a team. The cohesiveness seen throughout the squad under Ancelotti has been reminiscent to Mourinho’s 2011/2012 La Liga champion squad. They have handled adversity well this season and that is a priceless trait to obtain, collectively as a unit. Real Madrid have answered, will Barcelona answer back with a comprehensive victory tomorrow (Athletico Madrid lost to Almeria)? Or, will there be more drama to ensue in this exciting La Liga campaign?