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Top marks for Madrid and Barcelona after impressive wins

Collectiveness without BBC

This is Madrid! proclaimed my euphoric Madridista colleague, Roncero. Devoid of many of their starters (Carvajal, Varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Bale and Cristiano) they served up a treat. There are two reasons for this: one, that there's a strong back-up to the first team, some of them excellent, who put in the work, free from spite; another, with the BBC together the team tends to be disjointed and this time that didn't happen. The three forwards didn't forget their duties, it wasn't seven outfielders playing against ten, progressively bewildered and out of place. Madrid were a team in the real sense of the word, everyone close, pressing, being vigilant, offering support.

Real Madrid's third goal and collective celebration.
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Real Madrid's third goal and collective celebration.AMAIA ZABALODIARIO AS

The stand-ins stand up proud

Benzema attracted the attention, in a rare version of himself. Attentive, ears pricked, resolute, meticulous. He was found in and out of the area, and on the right, where he gave Luna (who had a terrible afternoon) a torrid time. He was a different player, perhaps because he saw the sharks circling. James and Asensio also stood proudly alongside him. To have substitutes so fired up is not easy. James has had reasons to be demoralised over the last two years, but it appears he has overcome them. Asensio's attitude has been impeccable. The way they were deployed yesterday, in a tough fixture, reflects on Bale and Cristiano, who are given free license that can be detrimental to the team.

Karim Benzema appeared reborn, free from certain shackles.
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Karim Benzema appeared reborn, free from certain shackles.JUAN FLORDIARIO AS

Five brings the dream alive

With such an emphatic victory in Ipurua, a difficult venue, Madrid overtook Barça again. But only for a few hours. Barça responded against another good team, Celta Vigo, who they took apart. Thanks mostly to the front three, who are different class (when are they not?), but this time there was a better contribution from the rest. It wasn't a mediocre team with three geniuses up top, as it has appeared to me on other occasions, but an adept side with three geniuses in front, which is more. And they reached that goal number that is often being repeated these days by Barcelona, five. The exact number needed to defeat PSG. Every game is its own, but these five allow us to dream.

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