Injury worries regarding the defense? Not a problem against an under-qualified Celta Vigo team that didn’t have what it takes to even remotely be close to an upset, while Cristiano Ronaldo was as unstoppable as ever, only the balls didn’t go in, which was still enough for a 2-0 win.
How? Gonzalo Higuain scored early, and it was over then. Playing Michael Essien as right back didn’t really have any effect on the match except for the confidence, which was a bit lower for Real Madrid. They played at a much slower pace than usual, preferring to keep matters cooled down and not risk a counter attack against their problematic defense, made even worse by injuries to all of their starting full backs.
You want to know how bad it was in terms of depletion? Ricardo Carvalho, who Jose Mourinho can’t stand the sight of these days, was actually on the bench in case the plague of injuries would hit again, during an easy home match in the La Liga. Both he and Raul Albiol were left unused.
Ronaldo, back from a terrible international break, was his active, always-threatning self, keeping Sergio Alvarez busy throughout the first half. Having Kaka on makes life quite easier for the rest of the players, although he’s far from the requested game form and sharpness in his touches and reactions at the moment. Real Madrid actually played with four playmakers in Xabi, Modric, Ozil and Kaka, leaving no room for mistake when it came to handling the ball and keeping possession.
The second half sealed any hopes of comeback from Celta. A penalty that shouldn’t have been called gave Ronaldo a chance from the penalty spot, which he easily converted. His ninth goal in eight league matches this season, but he fell even further behind Lionel Messi in the scoring race. It doesn’t matter to most in the wider view of things, but these things matter to Ronaldo.
Mourinho has his confidence put in the right place. This might not be the soundest of defensive units, but it keeps his mind relatively quiet. Pepe and Sergio Ramos were bound to start anyway, and it’s a good opportunity for Raphael Varane to gain a better footing on the spot, playing for Real Madrid. It won’t be long before he’s going to be a constant member of the back four. Michael Essien isn’t the best of the right backs in the world, but against this kind of opposition, it’s enough. Sergio Ramos might not like it, but he’s one of the best at the position when he plays out wide.
Up front is where the strength is, and in these kind of matches, having the option to play four players who can dictate pace and create a similar passing game and style to that of Barcelona, which fits quite weirdly on Real Madrid, while having the finishing prowess of Ronaldo and Higuain at hand, the defensive woes and injuries befallen on the club during the international break don’t seem so disastrous as before.