Real Madrid stretch LaLiga lead over Barcelona to four points

There were 10 minutes to go when Dani Carvajal broke free on the wing, advanced into the area and cut inside Mathías Olivera, who brought him down. Sergio Ramos, who’s so reliable from 12 yards, buried the penalty. The goal was enough to win the game for Real Madrid, who really were made to sweat blood for the points. Getafe gave a masterclass in frustrating Madrid, snapping at their heels incessantly and in unison. They’re a disciplined, effective unit who are just so well drilled by their coach, José Bordalás. All that came between them and a result was that challenge by Olivera, and the lack of a little more bite up top. They could also have done with more luck with refereeing decisions. After all, they were denied a first-half spot-kick despite an apparent foul in the box by Carvajal.

Real Madrid subs have desired impact as Getafe tire

Getafe's relentless pressing can only be counteracted by passing the ball out from the back with the utmost precision, or by playing it long. Madrid tried to do the former, and clearly have it in their locker to so. However, their midfield maestros - Isco, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos - had little joy, and Los Blancos struggled for much of the game. In the first 45, they only had a measure of success in the final 10 minutes, when Getafe had to take a bit of a breather. After the break, Madrid again had difficulties in breaking through the press, until the away side once more began to flag, this time a little earlier in the half. And this coincided with Zinedine Zidane's introduction of three well-chosen substitutes: Rodrygo Goes and Marco Asensio on the wings, and Fede Valverde for Modric in the middle.

Madrid now have significant breathing space at top of LaLiga

When the goal came, it represented Real Madrid’s reward for finally breaking free of Getafe’s clutches, having deployed Asensio and Rodrygo on their natural flanks (the norm back in the day, it’s now something of a rarity) and got them attacking Getafe to good effect. The guests came away empty-handed, but their display once more underlined what a tremendously well-constructed side they are. Having got through this test, Madrid now enjoy a four-point advantage over Barcelona, a gap that gives them some wiggle room for slip-ups, even if their arch rivals win every game between now and the end of the season. Zidane's men are very much in the box seat for the title now - but they do still have a visit to San Mamés, not to mention tough clashes against the likes of Villarreal and Granada…