All it took for a potentially complicated match for Real Madrid, as many tend to be this season, was Cristiano Ronaldo deciding to continue his amazing home form this season, scoring a second consecutive Bernabeu hat trick before making his early exit from the game, to get some rest with the Champions League in mind.
The ghost of Manchester United was hovering above the stadium the entire match. Not that Jose Mourinho didn’t care about beating Sevilla and getting three more points in the race for the second place in the La Liga, but the truth isn’t a secret – with the La Liga title all but gone, the Champions League is much more important.
If it wasn’t, Kaka, Michael Essien and Luka Modric would not have been starting; Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain rarely start together, not this season. Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso, the players who will have to make the difference in a few days against United, got to rest up.
And Real Madrid didn’t dominate, not even when 2-0 up. It was simply Ronaldo drifting, hovering above the match in his own personal level he shares with no one else on the team, and making it into one long period of garbage time, especially felt after he left the match and it didn’t look like anyone on Real Madrid was too interested or too capable of adding some more onto the scoring tally.
Ronaldo had the opening assist in the match before beginning his scoring work, which included a brilliant goal (2-0) with some nice feet work and once again showing just how lethal of a finisher he is with both of his feet, from long range or through the counter attack. The counter attack is an interesting subject as well – Ronaldo’s presence makes his team the most lethal counter attacking side in the world. The same was true when he played for Manchester United in 2009.
And then there’s the rest of Real Madrid, because as much as Ronaldo is amazing at home, where it’s a bit more comfortable, leaning only on his abilities won’t win Real Madrid titles. It’s going to be about Karim Benzema (probably will start) drawing attention to himself and creating; it’s going to be about Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria, maybe the two most important players on the pitch in a few days, and their ability to make life for Michael Carrick and the Manchester United defensive midfield unbearable. It’s going to be about Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira balancing the help against Kagawa, Rooney and Van Persie, while dominating the midfield unit Alex Ferguson will use.
The 4-1 win over Sevilla was half a preparation for the UCL, but mostly to rest the players Mourinho knows are extremely crucial to the future of this season. A bad result at home, and the season might be over for Real in February already. Cristiano Ronaldo is everything for the team, but even everything is not enough. Without the pieces next to him and behind, like Pepe returning, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa, Real Madrid won’t have their happy ending in the Champions League once again.