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More fuel on the fire, and one step closer to the title


More fuel to the fire. We were only 10 minutes in, and Alavés had already given Madrid a couple of scares (especially that header from Joselu onto the crossbar), when Mendy went down the left and Ximo Navarro fouled him just inside the area. The covering defender hit the brakes in order to avoid giving away the penalty, but as he slipped his right knee hit Mendy's back foot. Gil Manzano pointed to the spot, and moments later Benzema stuck it away, as the absent Sergio Ramos watched on from the stands. Social media caught fire once again. It is Madrid's fourth penalty in the post-lockdown LaLiga. For comparison, Atlético have been awarded the same, while Celta Vigo one more, but those given to Los Blancos are the ones that are looked at through a magnifying glass, especially if they are not clear cut.

Madrid get the borderline calls

And then there was more. No sooner had the second half started, and a lightening attack ended with Asensio scoring, initially ruled out by the lineman's flag, only to be reinstated by VAR, utilising its justice of millimetres. And so the goal was awarded by Héctor Rodríguez, who had started the night as the fourth official, but who was forced on at half-time due to an injury to the first choice. Anyway, two instances to feed the hatred. They were the right calls, but for some they will add to the house of cards that has been building, formed by a number of figures of people’s imaginations somewhat supported within a reality. And in this period of LaLiga Madrid always appear to have the decision go their way on those that I call borderline.

Another clean sheet | Alavés Edgar Méndez can't beat Madrid keeper Courtois.
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Another clean sheet | Alavés Edgar Méndez can't beat Madrid keeper Courtois.JuanJo MartínEFE

Courtois could be Madrid’s saviour in Manchester

The game died with the second goal. Alavés, who until then had been playing well, lost heart. They had by that point, and even on occasion later, tested Courtois, a player who creates a better impression every game. He is Madrid's best asset going into into the game against Manchester City, one that has already appeared on the horizon and is focusing the eye ever more as LaLiga seems closer to being determined in Los Blancos’ favour. In saying that, there is still the difficult trip to Granada, a team that was promoted to the top flight and is already venturing towards a European spot. Hazard had a brief run-out, but wasn’t even able to break sweat. We’re still waiting for him. Benzema and Casemiro both picked up knocks. Those who are being used the most are starting to feel the effects of the hustle and bustle.