Sergio Ramos thriving in leading role at Real Madrid and other things learned

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Captain Marvel: Sergio Ramos.

A Karim Benzema brace led Real Madrid to a comfortable 4-1 La Liga victory at home to Leganes.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring from Dani Carvajal’s knock down in the 17th minute but the away side drew level from the spot seven minutes later following a foul from Casemiro.

Benzema then scored twice in 13 minutes during the second period to put the hosts in charge before Sergio Ramos added a fourth in the 66th minute after Marco Asensio was felled.

Here’s what we learned from the convincing win at the Santiago Bernabeu.

BENZEMA FLYING HIGH

We’re just three games into the new La Liga season and Benzema is already just one goal away from matching his tally over the course of the entire campaign last term. The Frenchman scored a paltry five goals in 32 league appearances last season, prompting speculation of his likely departure in the summer.

However, Benzema has been handed a new lease of life under Julen Lopetegui and looks a different player – one that’s leading the goal-scoring charts in the division. The swagger and self-belief he had as a young trailblazer leading the line at Lyon are starting to resurface.

Away from the departed Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, Benzema is starting to shine, crucially, in more goalscoring positions. His swelling confidence was evident in the manner of his second goal against Leganes.

Having received the ball in a tight space on the edge of the box, surrounded by three defenders, the Frenchman’s elegant turn evaded them before exchanging a swift one-two with Luka Modric and drilling his finish low into the far corner. Perfection.

Karim Benzema.

In-from: Karim Benzema.

BALE ON A ROLL

Another player who was expected to flourish in Ronaldo’s absence is Bale and while he hasn’t steamrolled an opposition so far this season, like other players around him, he’s certainly shining that little bit brighter in the Portuguese’s absence.

The Welshman has clearly been instructed to have a presence inside the box and drift into central areas despite starting on the right flank and it’s paying dividends. He was on hand to sweep in Carvajal’s header back towards the penalty spot to break the deadlock.

The goal means Bale has now scored in seven consecutive La Liga games, going back to the end of last season.

Gareth Bale.

Another man in the goals: Gareth Bale.

RAMOS LOVING LEADING ROLE

Lopetegui’s arrival in the summer has not just been great for the midfield players at the Bernabeu. The former Spain coach has entrusted Ramos with building from the back and the defender is relishing the responsibility.

The Spanish international boasts several qualities of a top level modern centre-back. Among them are his mobility, passing and eye for goal. His distribution has been key in Lopetegui’s system, making more passes than anyone else (113) against Leganes, even outdoing Toni Kroos (107) with an identical success rate.

His diagonal ball forward for Carvajal was well picked out and led to the first goal. He’s proving to be a competent penalty-taker as well – benefiting from Ronaldo’s move away – and is clearly a chief target from set-pieces. He already has three goals to his name and you wouldn’t put a double-figure tally past him this season.

Sergio Ramos.

Leader of the side: Sergio Ramos.

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Real Madrid player ratings Karim Benzema brace earns him a 9 in 4-1 win over Leganes

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A Karim Benzema brace led Real Madrid to a comfortable 4-1 La Liga victory at home to Leganes.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring from Dani Carvajal’s knock down in the 17th minute but the away side drew level from the spot seven minutes later following a foul from Casemiro.

Benzema then scored twice in 13 minutes during the second period to put the hosts in charge before Sergio Ramos added a fourth in the 66th minute after Marco Asensio was felled.

Here, we rate Madrid’s players.

STARTING XI

Thibaut Courtois – Was put into the spotlight with the penalty but went the wrong way. Otherwise was solid whenever called upon. 6

Dani Carvajal – Another good performance as he marauded down the right flank set up Bale for the opener. 8

Raphael Varane – Assured display at the back, never look troubled and was commanding in the air. 6

Sergio Ramos – He’s gained more of a leading role since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure and he’s loving it. Good distribution and flawless from the spot. 8

Marcelo – Was outshone by Carvajal in attack but still created a couple of half chances. 6

Luka Modric – Fresh from winning UEFA Player of the Year, he wasn’t at his influential best but set up Benzema for his second. 7

Casemiro – Tracked back well and won a lot of headers. Clumsy challenge in the box conceded a penalty though. 5

Toni Kroos – Tidy with his passing as ever and even had a couple of shots at goal. 7

Gareth Bale – Seven goals in his last seven La Liga appearances. Always a threat. Bale is living up to his billing this season. 8

Karim Benzema – Growing in confidence. Showed good strength for his headed goal while his second came from a superb exchange with Modric. 9

Marco Asensio – Bagged an assist with an excellent delivery for Benzema and threatened the goal a few times himself. Was Madrid’s most creative player and won the penalty as well. 8

SUBS

Isco – Bit of swagger about him. A 360-degree turn inside the box was something his former coach Zinedine Zidane would’ve been proud of. 6

Dani Ceballos – Fortunate not to be booked after catching Juanfran with a high boot. N/A

Lucas Vazquez – Replaced Bale with only three minutes to go. N/A

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Thibaut Courtois makes starting XI against Leganes

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Hello one and all – welcome to our Real Madrid blog, where you’ll be updated with all the latest rumblings from the Bernabeu as Los Blancos get set to take on Leganes tonight (UAE: 22:45).

Make sure to keep checking back in with us throughout the day. Let’s get started …

21:55 – Thibaut Courtois makes starting XI against Leganes

Courtois is set to make his La Liga debut for Madrid.

He starts between the sticks while Keylor Navas drops to the bench.

20:25 – Mariano unfazed by taking on Cristiano Ronaldo’s No7 shirt

The 25-year-old has taken on the iconic number seven shirt last worn by Cristiano Ronaldo who left for Juventus in the summer.

In this video, he reacts to taking on the jersey.

Back at home: Mariano Diaz.

Back at home: Mariano Diaz.

17:45 – Ronaldo agrees deal to buy Valladolid

According to reports, Real Madrid and Brazil legend Ronaldo has reached a deal to buy 51 per cent of La Liga club Real Valladolid.

El Norte de Castilla, a regional daily based in Valladolid has made the claim, citing “sources close to the operation.”

Ronaldo has reportedly paid €30 million with the deal set to be done next week.

Read more here.

Brazil legend Ronaldo

Brazil legend Ronaldo

13:50 – Thibaut Courtois in line for Real Madrid debut

ThibautCourtoisRealMadrid (1)

Former Chelsea keeper has had to bide his time behind Keylor Navas at the Bernabeu but the waiting is over, according to reports.

12:00 – One striker in, one striker out as Borja Mayoral joins Levante

Borja Mayoral

There was no space for Borja Mayoral in Julen Lopetegui’s squad after Mariano made his return from Lyon.

However, the 21-year-old believes there is still a future for him at the club when he completes his season-long loan at Levante – read his thoughts here.

11:00 – Mariano Diaz a curious fit and Isco needs to show form

Mariano-Diaz-Real-Madrid

Chris Bailey has written a rundown on some of the key storylines ahead of Real’s clash with Leganes – including whether Mariano Diaz, the new No7 in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, is the right fit.

There’s also reason to believe Isco needs a big display – read more here.

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