The Bernabéu still isn’t filling to anywhere near capacity, but the fans who are there are enjoying themselves. Lopetegui is moulding the team to his idea and the results are helping. Of course it’s been an easy start to this LaLiga campaign, but the overall impression is a good one, the goals are coming and Bale and Benzema are shining like never before. In the match against Leganés Benzema above all. It wasn’t just that he played well, but that he gave us the idea that we’re going to see a very different player at the end of his career. Having arrived at Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo, he based his game around the Portuguese striker. He supported him with his stylistic play, he copied him in his relaxed approach to pressure and he didn’t feel the obligation to score that’s usually associated with being a centre-forward.
Benzema in fine form
Right now he’s a different player. He continues to play refined, combination football, but he’s found a previously unknown thirst for goals. Now, instead of looking at Ronaldo, he looks at the goal. And he’s enjoying it. What’s more, he’s in fine form, something which evidences work during the week that’s not always been there. The result is the somewhat languid stylist dedicated to serving Ronaldo (including never being ahead of him on the goalscoring charts) has turned into an enthusiast gushing goals and surprises. Bale is in the same vein, although in his case it’s probably best to wait to see and if he’s overcome his previous weakness: the muscles injuries.
Atlético slump against Celta
With all that and more, Real Madrid are top of the table and all of a sudden are five points ahead of Atlético, who after their summer signings were seen as real title challengers, alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona. But the match against Celta saw something curious: Simeone started with all the signings, all six, on the bench and that included Lemar, who he likes so much, and Rodrigo, called up by Luis Enrique for his first Spain squad. Lemar, Kalinic and Arias all came on, but with the score already at 2-0 against them. The almost superstitious fervour with which Simeone embraces his own model and his old guard could be starting to cause him problems.