Following Real Madrid’s 7-1 thumping of Deportivo La Coruna at the Bernabeu, we look at three things we learned from the match in the Spanish capital.
CRISTIANO RONALDO WORKS HARD TO GET RUB OF THE GREEN
For all his 419 outings in a Real Madrid jersey, this would have ranked among the top 10 in terms of frustrating matches he has played in. Nothing was going for the Portuguese star for the best part of 80 minutes, he was snatching at everything, missed a sitter and really struggled to keep his composure.
Ronaldo actually looked like he was losing rag when he booted the ball at the advertising hoardings but a legend like the 32-year-old doesn’t go home disappointed often.
He eventually crashed home a fine left-footed volley in the 78th minute – a finish in which he took out his anger on the football itself – and then nailed a brilliant header into the corner of the net for his second. In doing so, he took a hefty whack in the face and dully looked at his bloodied face on a mobile phone moments after. It was a nasty gash, it has to be said.
But, the general conclusion is that this two-goal haul (from seven shots) – taking him to six La Liga goals this term – will generally play a huge part in helping Ronaldo – who had gone three matches without a goal – and Real get back on track in La Liga.
The Whites legend was rewarded for his shear persistence and willingness to keep going when it just didn’t look like being his day. Write him off at your peril.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s game by numbers vs. Deportivo:
30 (97%) passes completed
3 take-ons completed
1 chance created
More like it. pic.twitter.com/wWAqs5PDGV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 21, 2018
MAYORAL SELECTION SHOWS HOW LIGHT REAL ARE UP TOP
Real Madrid have been linked with a hatful of strikers in the January transfer window but it looks like Zinedine Zidane won’t ask for Florentino Perez’s chequebook.
Karim Benzema came off the bench after his spell out with injury and Marco Asensio was an unused substitute, but do either of these two provide the answers Real are looking for to solve their chronic goal shortage in the league?
Asensio is the man for years to come surely but he isn’t an out-and-out forward anyway while Benzema seems to be in the twilight of his Los Blancos career despite only being 30. As it was on Sunday night, young gun Borja Mayoral, who has netted five goals in all competitions this term, isn’t the solution either – though other players obviously chipped in instead.
He was picked from the start by Zidane and had three attempts on goal, one being on target, but unusually doesn’t really possess a standout physical or technical attribute at his disposal. Yes, he’s only 20 but definitely isn’t ready to the lead line just yet after starting only his second-ever La Liga match. His early substitution on 64 minutes perhaps said a lot about his evening’s work.
Signing an out-and-out striker has to be the Whites’ priority come the summer.
VICTORY LIFTS ELEMENT OF DOOM AND GLOOM
Having only netted just once in the last three home matches coming into this one, Madridistas couldn’t have really been blamed if the white handkerchiefs came out when Deportivo took a first-half lead.
Madrid are still searching for their best form and under-fire Zidane is tinkering to find his strongest XI, but seven goals and some outstanding attacking football was definitely more like the Real of old.
Although it should be noted that Deportivo are in the relegation zone and enduring a wretched season, this win is a big confidence-booster for the Spanish giants ahead of some bigger assignments ahead.
Physiologically, after this one, Real Madrid go back into the top four and that’s massive for the club following two defeats in their past three La Liga matches prior to Sunday.
Real Madrid defender Jesus Vallejo could be out for as long as six weeks after picking up a muscle injury in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, the European champions announced on Saturday.
“Following the tests carried out today on our player Jesus Vallejo at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury to his right hamstring,” wrote Real on their website.
Central defender Vallejo picked up the injury during Real’s scrappy 1-0 win at Leganes in the Copa del Rey, and Madrid-based sports daily As predicting that the 21-year-old will be out for at least a month and will miss the last-16 Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
The loss of Vallejo is a blow to under-fire Zinedine Zidane, who is also without his captain Sergio Ramos thanks to a calf injury.
Zidane said on Saturday that Ramos should be back in team training “next week”, in time for the PSG match.
“He trained out on the pitch today and his recovery is going well,” he said ahead of Real’s Madrid home match with Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Zinedine Zidane has dismissed any suggestion that Real Madrid’s stuttering form could lead to him stepping down as coach, declaring: “I’ll never throw in the towel.”
Since claiming a club-record fifth trophy of 2017 at the FIFA Club World Cup in December, Madrid’s season has threatened to come apart at the seams.
A 3-0 home mauling at the hands of Barcelona followed by a string of mediocre performances and results has sunk Madrid’s title defence and seen them make heavy weather of progressing in the Copa del Rey.
With a Champions League last-16 showdown against rampant Paris St Germain fast approaching, Madrid need to rediscover last year’s form quickly or risk seeing their European title defence come to an end as well.
Zidane, though, insists he is up for the fight.
Asked if he had considered quitting, the Frenchman told a press conference. “I don’t think about negative things, only positive.
“We will find positive things. I’m never going to throw in the towel. I’m going to continue fighting as I’ve always shown and I’m not going to quit ever. ”
One positive for Zidane is the chance to finally be able to field his all-star forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema against Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
The much-vaunted ‘BBC’ strikeforce have rarely been available at the same time over the last 10 months due to injuries and suspension, but they could be unleashed against Depor.
“The three of them are going to be with us, but I’m not going to say who will play. I’m very happy to be able to count on these three great players, they offer a lot to the team,” said Zidane.