Real Madrid

You can’t replace Cristiano Ronaldo, but Real Madrid can do well without him, getting another impressive performance from their home grown starlet Jese, while Gareth Bale comes back from his injury to show that he doesn’t really need any time finding his way and the net after a short absence.

Real Madrid came away with a win that wasn’t as easy as the 4-2 scoreline might suggest to some. The fourth goal from Karim Benzema came as Villarreal were pressing to find an equalizer. Not for the first time this season, the visitors were the better side against Real Madrid for prolonged minutes, but Real Madrid’s efficiency on counter attacks is known to all, and it’s difficult to find a team that can match it with speed and numbers in these situations.

So while it wasn’t the best of matches when it comes to order and dominance, unlike their midweek win over Ateltico Madrid in the Copa Del Rey, it was yet another sign of just how deep and talented this team is, coming together quite well after a shaky start under their new manager.

Karim Benzema

Jese himself is what the Madrid fans seem to care about. After so many years of having to cling onto Iker Casillas as the sole product from the youth system to find his way into the starting lineup (Alvaro Arbeloa as well, but it took him some time to come back), they suddenly have both Alvaro Morata and Jese to be proud of. Morata was the bigger name as the two hit the senior team, but Jese, who starred for the Spanish U-20 side in the World Cup last summer, is the one who has found himself as the immovable object in the lineup, staying there thanks to Ronaldo’s suspension.

No Xabi Alonso always means trouble, and the duo of Asier Illarramendi and Luka Modric couldn’t really lock down the defensive side of things against the creative and brave Villarreal, who were quite close to finding a third goal before Benzema deflated their hopes of getting another point out of Real Madrid (2-2 in the first match between the sides this season). Sergio Ramos did a great job on that final goal leading and starting the attack, deserving some credit for not just a good match but an excellent week for him and the Real Madrid defense.

Real Madrid might still appeal to Spain’s government-run Sports Council and end Ronaldo’s suspension, which means he’ll be available for the matches against Elche and Getafe, but considering the opponents and how well they’ve played without him this season, it won’t be the end of the world if he sits out two more matches. Obviously, that might change if Real Madrid do drop points in the next two matches, but right now this group is playing their best football of the season, as Gareth Bale feels completely at home, Jese is disproving some beliefs on the Real Madrid youth system and Karim Benzema has put his terrible start to the season behind him, even if it comes at the cost of Alvaro Morata not getting the chances he wants.

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